AP Music Theory

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About the Exam

Important Update

2021 AP Music Theory Exams will be administered in early May, late May, and early June. This subject does not have an at-home version of the exam—access to musical instruments, software, and other tools means that a full-length exam can't be securely and fairly administered at home. 2021 AP Music Theory Exams will only be available in schools or school-proctored locations.

The exam will cover the full scope of course content, giving you the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.  

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Music Theory only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.


As the exam approaches, take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

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

  • Wed, May 12, 2021,
    12 PM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP Music Theory Exam

    This is the Administration 1 date for the AP Music Theory Exam.

  • Fri, May 21, 2021,
    12 PM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP Music Theory Exam

    This is the Administration 2 date for the AP Music Theory Exam.

  • Fri, Jun 4, 2021,
    12 PM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP Music Theory Exam

    This is the Administration 3 date for the AP Music Theory Exam.

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams 

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Music Theory only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

To ensure equitable and secure testing of full course content and skills, the 2021 AP Music Theory Exam will only be available in schools or school-proctored locations.

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

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