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Important Updates

2021 Exam Information
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—students’ 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 students 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.

Audio Recording for the Sight Singing Section
Review details about the process and policies for recording responses to the Sight Singing part of the exam.

AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP Music Theory Course and Exam Description (CED).

Encourage your students to visit the AP Music Theory student page for exam information.

Exam Dates

  • Event
    • WED, MAY 12, 2021, 12 PM LOCAL

    AP Music Theory Exam—Administration 1

    Paper, In School
    •  
  • Event
    • FRI, MAY 21, 2021, 12 PM LOCAL

    AP Music Theory Exam—Administration 2

    Paper, In School
    •  
  • Event
    • FRI, JUN 4, 2021, 12 PM LOCAL

    AP Music Theory Exam—Administration 3

    Paper, In School
    •  

Exam Format

The AP Music Theory Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day. 

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.

Section I: Multiple Choice

75 Questions | ~1 Hour 20 Minutes | 45% of Exam Score

  • Approximately 13 sets of 4–6 questions.
  • Approximately 10–12 individual multiple-choice questions.
  • Questions that assess students’ ability to use symbols and terms to describe features, procedures, and relationships in performed music.
    • Students will also be assessed on their ability to detect discrepancies in pitch and rhythm when comparing notated and performed music.
  • Questions that assess students’ ability to use symbols and terms to describe features, procedures, and relationships in notated music.
  • All stimulus materials 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.

Section IIA: Free Response: Written

7 questions | ~1 hour and 10 minutes | 45% of Exam Score

The seven questions include:

  • 2 melodic dictation
  • 2 harmonic dictation
  • 1 part writing from figured bass
  • 1 part writing from Roman numerals
  • 1 composition of a bass line/harmonization of a melody

 Section IIB: Free Response: Sight Singing

2 questions | ~10 minutes | 10% of Exam Score

The student will be asked to sing and record two brief, primarily diatonic melodies (of about 4–8 bars).

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

2020 (Last Year’s) Free-Response Questions

Last year’s free-response questions are available in the AP Classroom question bank for teachers to assign to students as homework or in class, and do not require secure assessment using the LockDown Browser. Since the 2020 exams had to be designed for highly unusual circumstances, these questions were updated, where possible, to best match the format of free-response questions in the course and exam description and on traditional AP Exams.

Sign in to AP Classroom to access resources including personal progress checks and a question bank with topic questions and practice exams aligned to the current course and exam.

To preserve the large number of new FRQs for teacher use, only teachers have access to the 2020 FRQs. If you are a higher education faculty member interested in seeing questions, please fill out this request form.

2019 Free-Response Questions

For free-response questions (FRQs) from the 2019 exam, along with scoring information, check out the table below.

Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the chief reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the AP Reading leadership to explain how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.