This sentence is incorrect. The word "is" in the sentence is what makes it incorrect. Instead of is, the word should be "are," and the sentence should be, "The list of items are on the desk." Is would be appropriate if it were one item, such as "The item is on the desk," for is correlates with a singular noun. Being that items are plural, the word used should be are.
This question would be found on a grammar or English test, as well as an SAT. It is easy to get confused about these questions, but the best way to solve them is to say the sentences aloud to hear if they sound right.