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Important Updates

Support for Students and Schools Impacted by Coronavirus
In response to school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re offering at-home testing for 2020 AP Exams. Note that any related adjustments to 2020 AP Exams, such as length or content covered, may not be reflected on all AP Central pages. Visit Taking Online AP Exams for the latest exam information.

New Secure Practice Exam
A new secure AP Music Theory practice exam is now available on the AP Course Audit site and in the AP Classroom question bank. The practice exam matches this year’s exam specifications and includes scoring guidelines and a scoring worksheet. Note: the scoring worksheet uses past averages, so the cut score ranges may not fully align with the 2020 exam standards.

You continue to have access to the 2016 and 2008 secure practice exams on the AP Course Audit site and as individual secure questions in the question bank. 

As a reminder, these exams are most appropriate for student practice late in the school year, as the exam date approaches.

Get Real-Time Feedback from Personal Progress Checks
Personal progress checks in AP Classroom are a great way to ensure your students are continuing to build mastery of content and skills. The real-time results can help you and your students prioritize additional practice before the AP Exam.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information on exam weighting, download the AP Music Theory Course and Exam Description (CED). Scoring guidelines for each of the sample free-response questions in the CED are also available.

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

  • Event
    • Wed, May 13, 2020

    AP Music Theory Exam Day

    • Noon | 3 hrs

Exam Format

The AP Music Theory Exam will continue to have consistent question types, weighting, and scoring
guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day. The overall format of
the exam—including the weighting, timing, types of questions, aural and non-aural subscore reporting,
and types of stimulus materials—won’t change.

 Section 1: 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 2A: 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 2B: 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

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.