Music Theory Placement Exam Information

All entering freshman music majors must take the Music Theory Placement Exam*.

*Students who have received a score of 4 or higher on the Music Theory Advanced Placement Test are not required to take the Music Theory Placement Exam. See ASU Admissions for details regarding acceptance of AP credit. Transfer students are placed on an individual basis, according to proficiency with music theory and aural skills as indicated in a meeting with the Theory Coordinator.

For students enrolling in the Fall:

Students beginning their studies in the Fall semester need to have completed the Music Theory Placement Exam by May 30. Those who do not complete the placement exam by the required date will be temporarily placed into MUS 1001 (Music Theory I)/MUS 1005 (Aural Skills I)—or, for Music Industry Studies majors, MUS 1003 (Contemporary Musicianship I)—but will need to earn a satisfactory score on the exam by the end of the first week of classes. If, at that time, a satisfactory score on the exam is not earned, the result will be enrollment into MUS 1000 (Elements of Music Theory), which must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in MUS 1001/1005 or MUS 1003 during a subsequent semester.

For students enrolling in the Spring:

Students who begin their coursework in the Hayes School of Music during the Spring semester will also be required to take the placement exam by January 5, and should contact the Theory Coordinator to determine their correct placement within the music theory curriculum. 

Those who initiate their coursework in the Spring and earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam by the requred date will begin MUS 1001/1005 (Performance, Education, and Therapy degrees) during the first semester, or will take MUS 1003 (Music Industry Studies degrees) during the subsequent Fall semester.  Students who initiate their coursework in the Spring and do not earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam by the required date must take and earn a satisfactory score in MUS 1000 during the first semester, as this course must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in MUS 1001/1005 or MUS 1003 the subsequent Fall. 

The Music Theory Placement Exam: 

The exam consists of 9 required sections of questions regarding written elements of music theory, followed by 3 optional sections of questions regarding music theory aptitude, student confidence, and standardized test scores.  The optional sections are for research purposes, while the required sections are used for music theory course placement.  The required sections assess knowledge in the following areas:

  • Rhythm Notation
  • Scales
  • Intervals
  • Triads
  • Key Signatures
  • Musical Pattern Completion

The online exam can be accessed here: https://appstate.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3rwLAnT3EJe99Rz

***If you have technical issues accessing or completing the test, please contact Dr. Greg McCandless in the Hayes School of Music at mccandlessgr@appstate.edu  or 828-262-7844.

If you have little or no music theory background, we recommend that you consult an introductory music text before taking the test. Appalachian currently uses the following textbooks:

For Music Education, Music Performance, and Music Therapy major tracks:

Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis 4th edition by Jane Piper Clendinning and Elizabeth West Marvin

For the Music Industry Studies track:

The Craft of Contemporary Commercial Music by Greg McCandless and Daniel McIntyre

Contemporary Musicianship by Jennifer Snodgrass

 

The following websites may be useful for reviewing theory fundamentals and practicing aural skills:

Aural Skills

Theory