Music Theory Entrance Diagnostic

Undergraduate and graduate (master's) incoming students will find important information about theory diagnostics on this page.


I. Regular Placement

All students entering the School of Music as a music major or minor are required to take a Theory/Musicianship Placement Exam. The exam is designed to determine readiness for MUS 1301 (Theory I) and MUS 1101 (Musicianship I).

Part I of the exam covers written theory fundamentals- treble and bass clefs, note names (identification on staff and on keyboard), accidentals, enharmonic pitches, major key signatures, rhythmic values and meter signatures. All students are placed in MUS 1301 (Theory I).

Part II of the exam tests basic aural skills-intervals, triad quality, meter identification, rhythmic dictation, melodic dictation, and melodic error detection. Based on this part of the exam, students are placed in MUS 1100 (Introductory Musicianship) or MUS 1101 (Musicianship I).

To inquire further about undergraduate placement testing, contact Dr. Edward Taylor.

II. Credit by Exam

A student seeking advanced placement has several options:

  1. Credit by AP Exam – receive credit for Mus 1301 by scoring 4 or higher on the theory portion of the College Board Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam and/or receive credit for Mus 1101 by scoring 4 or higher on the ear-training portion of same. A student with a score of 3 on either part of the AP exam may place out of the corresponding course (1301 or 1101) by making a score of 80 or higher on the corresponding portion of the Baylor advanced placement exam, without paying a fee to the university.
  2. Credit by Baylor Exam – receive credit for Mus 1301 and/or Mus 1101 by scoring 80 or higher on Baylor advanced placement exams (see description below). A $200/per course fee is paid to Baylor University.

The Credit by Baylor Exam is equivalent to the final exams for Mus 1301 and Mus 1101. The following skills are tested:


  • triad and seventh chord spelling and identification
  • diatonic triad and seventh chord spelling and identification by Roman numeral label
  • part writing in three and four voices including all diatonic triads in root position and first inversion given any one of the following-Roman numerals only, figured bass line, melody only, outer voices only
  • two-voice 1:1 counterpoint, writing a countermelody to a given soprano or bass line

Aural Skills

  • aural identification of melodic intervals, m2 through P8
  • rhythmic dictation in simple and compound meters
  • melodic dictation of non-modulating, diatonic melodies in major and minor keys
  • harmonic dictation including all diatonic triads (root position & first inversion only) in major and minor keys
  • rhythmic reading of examples in simple and compound meters
  • sight-singing of non-modulating diatonic melodies in major and minor keys


I. Exam format

The one-hour written exam tests your analytical proficiency through score study of music from the common-practice period. The exam will involve Roman numeral harmonic analysis of a musical excerpt containing modulations and chromatic harmony (secondary functions, mixture, Neapolitan sixth chord, augmented-sixth chord). Questions concerning tonal/harmonic structure, musical form, and compositional technique (sequence, pedal, motivic development, developmental procedures, imitation, etc.) will be included.

II. Sources for study
  • Laitz and Bartlette, Graduate Review of Tonal Theory.
  • Kostka and Payne. Tonal Harmony.
  • Spencer and Temko. A Practical Approach to the Study of Form in Music.
  • Santa. Hearing Form.
  • Online sources

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