Theory Skills Assessments

Music theory image


Incoming Freshmen and Transfer Students

For the 2020–2021 audition season — when auditions will be conducted remotely — all students who have committed to attend Ohio State will take the Theory Placement Exam (TPE) prior to the start of their summer orientation in May. 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.

The TPE will be administered via Zoom. Students will receive details well in advance.

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

Please contact Tanya Sparks, School of Music Admissions Coordinator, at for more information.

Music Minors

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

Due to in-person restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Theory Placement Exam will be offered via Zoom on the following dates:

  • Future dates will be announced at a later time.

Registration is required.


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.

[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.