Music Theory Placement

Theory/Aural Skills Diagnostic Test

On audition day, each prospective music student takes a written diagnostic theory exam and completes a short aural skills evaluation that assesses the student’s overall musicianship. For the aural skills evaluation, the student will demonstrate the following skills: 1.) singing four, short melodic fragments played by the proctor on the piano; 2.) singing a simple, notated melody using solfege, and; 3.) speaking/counting a notated rhythm, while conducting.

The evaluative process takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and is usually scheduled around the student’s audition time. Incoming students will receive individualized feedback regarding their performance on the musicianship diagnostic tests, identifying areas in need of remediation and links to online resources for training in theory and aural skills. A practice version of the written theory test can be downloaded here. (The answer key may also be downloaded for aid in studying.)


Most students will begin the course sequence with MHIS 145: Music Theory and Aural Skills I. Students who perform very well on the diagnostic exam and/or who have already earned music theory/aural skills credit at another school will be considered for placement into MHIS 146 or 245: Music Theory and Aural Skills II or III. In order to test out of MHIS 145 or 146, a student must take–and score well–on a more comprehensive placement test. Students meeting the above criteria will be contacted by the Coordinator of Musicianship Studies, however any student who is interested in taking the placement test is welcome to attempt it. The placement test will be administered sometime in the 2-3 days prior to the first day of classes in the Fall semester. The exact date and location of the test will be announced within two weeks prior to the first day of classes.