AP MUSIC THEORYThe Exam

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Important Updates

New Exam for Classroom Use
A secure 2016 AP Music Theory Exam is now available on the AP Course Audit website. To access, sign in to your AP Course Audit account, and click on the Secure Documents link in the Resources section of your Course Status page.

Digital Audio Submission
Beginning with the 2017 AP Exams, all sight singing responses must be recorded digitally in MP3 format and submitted online using the Digital Audio Submission (DAS) portal. This new process replaces cassette tape and CD submission. Access updated DAS portal help and FAQs on our Submitting Audio page.

Digital Audio Capture (DAC) App
The Digital Audio Capture (DAC) app is now available for download and for practice before exam day. Review important information if your school plans to use this option to record students’ sight-singing responses in 2017.

  • Event
    • Mon, May 14, 2018

    AP Music Theory Exam Day 2018

    • 8 a.m. | 2 hrs 40 mins

Exam Overview

The AP Music Theory Exam evaluates students' understanding of musical structure and compositional procedures through recorded and notated examples. Listening skills are emphasized, particularly those involving recognition and comprehension of melodic and rhythmic patterns, harmonic functions, small forms, and compositional techniques. Most of the musical examples are from standard repertoire; some examples of contemporary, jazz, vernacular music, or music beyond the Western tradition are included.

The exam requires fluency in reading musical notation and a strong grounding in music fundamentals, terminology, and analysis.

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

Exam Format

Section I

Multiple Choice — 75 Questions | ~1 Hour, 20 Minutes | 45% of Exam Score

  • Questions based on recorded excerpts of music
  • Questions based on analysis of printed music scores

Section II

Free Response — 9 Exercises | ~1 Hour, 20 Minutes | 55% of Exam Score

  • Melodic and harmonic dictation
  • Part writing from Roman numerals and figured bass
  • Composition of a bass line/harmonization of a melody
  • Sight singing

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

For free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables 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 reading leadership to describe 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.

 
1999: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples

Theory Questions

Theory Scoring Guidelines

 
 

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines

 

Exam Resources