Graduate Entrance Assessment


in Music History and Music Theory

Each entering graduate student takes an assessment that documents their knowledge of undergraduate-level music theory and musicology. This assessment, taken shortly before the start of the Autumn semester, helps the student and advisor select appropriate courses.

Music Theory

The assessment will involve these skills:

  • Reading in treble, bass and alto clefs
  • Identifying and writing key signatures, chords and scales
  • Harmonizing a melody
  • Realizing a figured bass in 4-part SATB chorale style
  • Harmonic and formal analysis
  • Reading a lead sheet

Review and study the following:

  • Major and minor scales
  • Key signatures
  • Modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian)
  • Whole tone and pentatonic scales
  • Augmented sixth chords (French, German, Italian)
  • Neapolitan chord
  • Secondary dominants and secondary leading-tone chords (a.k.a. applied chords)
  • Parallel and contrasting periods
  • Sentences
  • Perfect authentic, imperfect authentic, and half cadences
  • Sequences (descending 5th, ascending 5th, descending 3rd, ascending 2nd)
  • Form — simple binary, rounded binary, ternary, sonatina
  • Borrowed chords from the parallel major or minor
  • Non-chord tones — passing tones, neighboring tones, suspensions, appoggiaturas, escape tones, pedal tone


The Musicology assessment has the following parts:

  • General knowledge of terms and concepts used in musicology (multiple choice)
  • Repertory knowledge of Western music history from the Middle Ages through the present (multiple-choice questions, mostly listening)
  • Repertory knowledge of global and American musics (multiple-choice questions, mostly listening). This part is required for students in musicology, optional for all others
  • Short essay on a historical topic (about 12 sentences; you will be given a choice of topics)
  • Short answers on library skills and information access (about 6 sentences)