AP Music Theory

Sign in to My AP or view free online classes and review sessions on YouTube.

About the Exam

Important: Because of school closures due to COVID-19, we’re offering at-home testing for the 2020 AP Music Theory Exam as well as free resources to help you prepare. For more details, visit the 2020 AP Coronavirus Updates AP Music Theory exam page. Note that any related adjustments to 2020 AP Exams, such as length or content covered, may not be reflected on all AP Students pages.

The AP Music Theory Exam will test your understanding of the musical concepts covered in the course units, including your ability to analyze performed and notated music and to sing melodies from a written score (sight sing).

Exam Duration
~ 2hrs 40mins

Exam Dates

  • Tue, May 19, 2020,
    12 PM ET

    AP Music Theory Exam

    May 19, 2020 is the updated date for the AP Music Theory Exam.

Exam Components

75 questions ~ 1hr 20mins 45% of Score

There are two types of multiple-choice questions on the exam:

  • There are 10–12 individual questions and 13 sets made up of 4–6 questions each.
  • All stimulus materials throughout the exam represent a variety of historical style periods, including baroque, classical, romantic, late 19th or 20th century, and contemporary (world music, jazz, or pop). Both instrumental and vocal music are represented.
  • Questions based on aural stimulus test your listening skill and knowledge about theory largely in the context of examples from actual musical scores. Some questions will cover identification of isolated pitch and rhythmic patterns, while others may test your skill in aural analysis of more complex musical excerpts. (41–43 questions, ~45 minutes) 
  • Questions based on analysis of printed music scores emphasize knowledge of score analysis, including small-scale and large-scale harmonic procedures; melodic organization and developmental procedures; rhythmic/metric organization; texture; and formal devices and/or procedures. You may also see questions about musical terminology, notational skills, and basic compositional skills. (32–34 questions, 35 minutes)

7 questions ~ 1hr 10mins 45% of Score

The seven questions include:

  • 2 melodic dictation questions
  • 2 harmonic dictation questions
  • 1 question about part writing from figured bass
  • 1 question about part writing from Roman numerals
  • 1 question about harmonization of a melody

2 questions ~ 10mins 10% of Score

You’ll be asked to sing and record two brief, primarily diatonic melodies (of about 4–8 bars).

  • You will have 75 seconds to examine and practice each melody and 30 seconds to perform it.
  • You may sing the melody beginning with the given starting pitch or another pitch in a range that is more comfortable.

Exam Preparation

Search AP Credit Policies

Find colleges that grant credit and/or placement for AP Exam scores in this and other AP courses.

Not a student?

Go to AP Central for resources for educators