AP Music Theory Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about the course

Musicianship skills, including dictation and other listening skills, sight singing, and harmony, as well as theory and musical materials and procedures, are considered important parts of this course. Students will develop the ability to recognize, understand, and describe basic materials and processes of tonal music, as well as develop their aural skills.

For more details go to the course home page

The AP Music Theory course corresponds to one or two semesters of a typical introductory college music theory course.

There are no prerequisite courses, however students should be able to read and write music. It is strongly recommended that students have basic voice or instrument performance skills.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However, a list of example textbooks appropriate for the course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course.

Any motivated student should be given the chance to benefit from an AP course. And if your school offers the PSAT/NMSQT®, you should use AP Potential. This free online tool allows you to identify students who are likely to succeed in AP based on their PSAT/NMSQT or SAT® scores. Such scores have been proven to be stronger predictors of AP success than high school grades or GPA.

These resources will help:

Yes, the AP Music Theory Course Description includes a detailed outline of course topics and skills that teachers may use to develop a curriculum tailored to their school’s specific schedule. 

The AP Teacher Community might be the best source for answers. You’ll also find articles, tools, and resources to help you teach every aspect of the course on the course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submit the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty. To give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new resources and supports launching in August, teachers won’t be required to submit a syllabus for course authorization until the 2020-21 school year. Go to the AP Course Audit page for this course for more information and guidance about the requirements for the 2019-20 school year

The AP Course Audit page for this course will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines.

Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and info about the whole course audit process.

Questions about the exam

These resources will help:

  • Secure exams for classroom use are available on the AP Course Audit website. Log in to your account and then click on the Secure Documents link within the Resources section of your Course Status page.
  • Starting in August 2019, you will have access to AP Classroom, a dedicated online platform designed to support you and your students throughout your AP experience. The platform features a variety of powerful resources and tools to give you year-long support and enable your students to receive meaningful feedback on their progress as they prepare for the AP Exam.
  • Free-response questions (FRQs) with student samples and scoring guidelines can be accessed from the course’s exam information page.
  • Scroll down the “Scoring” column in the free-response questions table to find yearly Chief Reader Reports (former title: Student Performance Q&A) from the Chief Reader that describe how students performed on the FRQs, typical student errors, and specific concepts that challenged students the most that year.
  • Released exams (.pdf/9.92MB) are available for free download on the exam information page, and 10-packs can be purchased on the College Board store.

The exam is given each year in early May. Go to the Exam Calendar for the most current exam dates.

That depends on the college. Tell your students to use the AP Credit Policy Info tool to verify the credit/placement policies at the colleges they are considering.

Schools must use digital technology to record students’ sight-singing responses. Digital technology includes computers with MP3 recording software, digital language labs, and handheld digital recorders. Schools may not use tape recorders to record students’ responses. The MP3 format will be the only file format accepted. For more information see the Recording Audio page.

Sight- singing responses must be submitted via the Digital Audio Submission (DAS) portal. For each student, both sight-singing responses must be recorded as a single MP3 file and submitted via the DAS portal. Responses may not be submitted on CDs or on tapes. For more information, go to the Submitting Audio page.

Go to the AP Music Theory Exam Information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.