Music Theory Placement Exam Information

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

Students beginning their studies in the Fall semester need to have completed the Music Theory Placement Exam by May 1. Spring admits need to have completed the exam by January 5.

*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.

For students enrolling in Music Therapy, Music Education, or Music Performance degree programs (Fall admits):

Students who receive a satisfactory score on the exam will be placed in MUS 1001 (Music Theory I). Music majors who do not take the exam or receive an unsatisfactory score will be placed in the summer online music theory module, a remedial learning environment that offers students the opportunity to attain the skills required to be successful in the music theory program. There is no charge for the module, but students are expected to complete the assessments within the it one week prior to the first day of class during the Fall semester. After successful completion of the module, students will be placed in MUS 1001. 

Students who do not take the placement exam—as well as students who have earned an unsatisfactory score on both the placement exam and the summer module—will be automatically enrolled in MUS 1000 (Elements of Music Theory), which must be successfully completed prior to MUS 1001.

Students enrolling in MUS 1000 during the Fall semester due to this circumstance will be encouraged to enroll in summer school in order to be placed with their original cohort within the theory sequence during their sophomore years.  Note that MUS 2001 (Music Theory III) is offered in the Fall and Summer, MUS 2002 (Music Theory IV) is offered in the Spring and Summer. As a result of this course offering schedule, it is imperative that freshman music majors in education, therapy, and performance degree programs complete MUS 1001 (Music Theory I) and MUS 1002 (Music Theory II) prior to the Fall semester of their sophomore years, as delays in the completion of these courses may impact their date of graduation from the Hayes School of Music.

For students enrolling in the Music Industry Studies degree program (Fall admits):

Students who receive a satisfactory score on the exam will be placed in MUS 1003 (Contemporary Musicianship I). 

MIS majors who do not take the exam or receive an unsatisfactory score will be placed in the summer online music theory module, a remedial learning environment that offers students the opportunity to attain the skills required to be successful in the music theory program. There is no charge for the module, but students are expected to complete the assessments within the it one week prior to the first day of class during the Fall semester. After successful completion of the module, students will be placed in MUS 1003.

Students who do not take the placement exam—as well as students who have earned an unsatisfactory score on both the placement exam and the summer module—will be automatically enrolled in MUS 1000 (Elements of Music Theory), which must be successfully completed prior to MUS 1003 (Contemporary Musicianship I).

Students enrolling in MUS 1000 during the Fall semester due to this circumstance will therefore need to enroll in Contemporary Musicianship I the following Fall semester.

For students enrolling in the Music Industry Studies degree program (Spring admits):

Students who begin their coursework in the Hayes School of Music during the Spring semester will also be required to take the placement exam, and should meet with theory coordinator to determine their correct placement within the music theory curriculum. 

MIS majors who initiate their coursework in the Spring and earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam will begin MUS 1003 (Contemporary Musicianship I) during the subsequent Fall semester.  MIS students who initiate their coursework in the Spring and do not earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam must either pass the summer online music theory module and begin MUS 1003 during the subsequent Fall semester or be placed in MUS 1000, which must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in MUS 1003. 

 For students enrolling in Music Therapy, Music Education, or Music Performance degree programs (Spring admits):

Students who initiate their coursework during the Spring and earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam are placed into MUS 1001 (Music Theory I), either during the initial Spring semester or the subsequent Fall semester.  Students enrolling in MUS 1001 during the Spring semester have the option of taking MUS 1002 (Music Theory II) during a summer session, which allows them to begin MUS 2001 (Music Theory III) the subsequent Fall semester.  Students who initiate their coursework during the Spring and do not earn a satisfactory score on the placement exam must either pass the summer online music theory module and begin MUS 1001 the subsequent Fall semester or be placed in MUS 1000, which must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in MUS 1001.

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:

A Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony by L. Poundie Burstein and Joseph Straus 

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