Theory Skills Assessments

Music theory image

Incoming Freshmen and Transfer Students

All prospective students will take the Theory Placement Exam (TPE) on the day of their entrance audition. This exam is administered to determine whether a student’s prior study has sufficiently prepared them for Theory I. The result of this test does not have an impact on a student’s admission into the School of Music.

For students who submit a video audition, the TPE is postponed until arrival on campus. Please contact the School of Music at or 614-292-2870 for more information.

Music Minors

All prospective music minors must also take the Theory Placement Exam.

In light of changing guidelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, dates and details for School of Music auditions and Theory Placement Exams are subject to change. The safety of our community is our top priority. For updates, check this site often and follow the School of Music on social media.

The TPE is held in Hughes Hall Auditorium, 1899 College Rd, Columbus 43210. Allow up to hour to complete the exam. Please bring two (2) sharpened #2 pencils to your exam. You do not need to register or check in prior to this exam.

Directions and Parking

How to Prepare

The Theory Placement Exam will test skills such as reading notation in treble and bass clef, matching rhythms to time signatures, scales and intervals, and identifying the quality of triads and seventh chords.

Sample Test Item

Resources to Help You Prepare

Free websites:


  • Andrew Surmani, Karen Farnum Surmani, and Morton Manus, Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory: A complete Self-study Course for All Musicians (Book and two CDs) Alfred Music, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0739036358
  • Joseph N. Straus, Elements of Music. Prentice Hall, 2008. ISBN 0-13-034341
  • John Clough and Joyce Conley, Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter. W.W. Norton & Co., 1999. ISBN 0-393-95189-8

Music Theory Software:

  • MFun by Elisabeth Sayrs

What Happens Next?

You will be contacted by the School of Music regarding the next steps. Please reach out to Emily Klepinger with questions.

[pdf] — Some links on this page are to Adobe .pdf files requiring Adobe Reader. If you need them in a more accessible format, contact us.