Students are given an evaluative essay exam as a pretest to evaluate the level of historical knowledge brought into the classroom. This is really a "wake-up call" for the students to make them aware that they actually know very little about early U.S. history and also to alert them to the fact that this is going to be a no nonsense semester. The result of the test was interesting. Several students told me that they had gone home that night and told their parents that they were going to flunk history. Other students related that they had contacted their previous history teachers, including honors AP history, and told their teachers that they had not prepared them adequately for college. The students did recover from this shock however and were very proud of the progress that they made as measured by their final exam.