Theory Skills Assessment



Incoming Freshmen and Transfer Students

All future students of the School of Music will take the Theory Placement Exam (TPE) either as part of Audition Day activities or as a virtual exam just prior to summer orientation. This exam is administered to determine whether a student’s prior study has sufficiently prepared them for Theory I, and will help to inform the scheduling process.

See the tips below on how to prepare; students are encouraged to enroll in a music theory class if offered at their high school.

Please direct questions to Tanya Sparks, School of Music Admissions Coordinator, at

The result of this test does not have an impact on a student's admission into the School of Music.

Music Minors and Non-Music Majors

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

The Theory Placement Exam will be offered on CarmenZoom on the following dates:

  • Monday, August 9 at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 19 at 10:30 a.m.

Registration is required.

Register for Theory Placement Exam

Allow up to hour to complete the exam.

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.

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