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Theory Skills Assessment



Incoming Freshmen and Transfer Students

Students who have been accepted into the School of Music and have decided to enroll at The Ohio State University will take an online Theory Placement Exam in late spring. Instructions will be sent to your Ohio State email address. 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 sparks.348@osu.edu.

Music Minors and Non-Music Majors

All prospective music minors and non-music majors planning to take music theory coursework must also take the Theory Placement Exam.

The Theory Placement Exam will be delivered asynchronously on CarmenCanvas. Please access the link below to register for the course.

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 PDF files requiring Adobe Reader. If you need them in a more accessible format, contact us.