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Anticipation Guide

An anticipation guide is a comprehension strategy that is used before reading to activate students’ prior knowledge and build curiosity about a new topic. Before reading, students listen to or read several statements about key concepts presented in the text; they’re often structured as a series of statements with which the students can choose to agree or disagree. Anticipation guides stimulate students’ interest in a topic and set a purpose for reading.

Key Information



When To Use This Strategy

Before reading

Appropriate Group Size

With small groups
Whole class setting

Why use anticipation guides?

  • Anticipation guides stimulate students’ interest in a topic and set a purpose for reading.
  • They teach students to make predictions, anticipate the text, and verify their predictions.
  • They connect new information to prior knowledge and build curiosity about a new topic.

How to use an anticipation guide

  1. Construct the anticipation guide. Construction of the anticipation guide should be as simple as possible for younger students. Write four to six statements about key ideas in the text; some true and some false. Include columns following each statement, which can be left blank or can be labeled Yes, or No (Maybe can also be used).

NOTE: Teachers may wish to create an additional column for revisiting the guide after the material has been read.

  1. Model the process. Introduce the text or reading material and share the guide with the students. Model the process of responding to the statements and marking the columns.
  2. Read each of the statements and ask the students if they agree or disagree with it. Provide the opportunity for discussion. The emphasis is not on right answers but to share what they know and to make predictions.
  3. Read the text aloud or have students read the selection individually. If reading aloud, teachers should read slowly and stop at places in the text that correspond to each of the statements.
  4. Bring closure to the reading by revisiting each of the statements.

Download blank templates

Watch: Anticipation guide (grade 2)

Go inside Cathy Doyle’s second grade classroom in Evanston, Illinois to observe how Cathy uses the anticipation guide strategy to pique her students’ interest in the book they are about to read together, Jin Woo by Eve Bunting. Cathy asks questions designed to activate the kids’ prior knowledge and to encourage them to make predictions about what they think will happen in the story.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Learn how anticipation guides can be used for children’s books such as the picture book Miss Rumphius. See example ›


Use anticipation guides to help students understand about fungi. See example ›

Use anticipation guides to help students understand about dinosaurs. See example ›

Social Studies

Use anticipation guides to help students organize their reading about topics such as the Panama Canal. See example ›

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners

  • Anticipation guides can be completed orally.
  • The number of statements can be modified to suit learner’s needs.
  • Teachers may assign different reading passages about the same topic based upon reading skills.
  • Color code columns so that the child can clearly tell the difference between the “before” and “after” column.
  • Use simple sentences so that the student focuses on the content, rather than understanding the sentence. Example: “Ringworm and athlete’s foot are caused by fungi” to “Fungi causes ringworm and athlete’s foot.”

See the research that supports this strategy

Duffelmeyer, F. (1994). Effective Anticipation Guide statements for learning from expository prose. Journal of Reading, 37, 452-455.

National Institute for Literacy. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Kindergarten Through Grade 3. Jessup, MD: ED Pubs.

Head, M. H., and Readence, J. E. (1992). Anticipation guides: Using prediction to promote learning from text. In E.K. Dishner, T. W. Bean, J. E. Readence and D. W. Moore (Eds), Reading in the content areas: Improving classroom instruction (3rd ed., pp. 227-233). Dubugue: Kendall/Hunt.

Wood, K. D., D. Lapp, J. Flood, and D. B. Taylor. 2008. Guiding Readers Through Text: Strategy Guides for New Times. 2nd ed. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Wood, K.D., & Mateja, J. A. (1983). Adapting secondary level strategies for use in elementary classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 36, 492-496

Children’s books to use with this strategy

Topics this strategy is especially helpful for