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Important Updates

Preparing Students for the Exam

Starting August 1, students and teachers will have new resources and a daily support tool called AP
Classroom to use throughout the year. Designed and tested in collaboration with AP teachers, these
resources include unit guides that cover the content and skills assessed on the exam, progress checks
and a dashboard to highlight strengths and opportunities for growth, and a question bank of real AP

Learn more about the new resources 

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.

New Exam Resources

Beginning in August 2019, you’ll have access to the full range of questions from past exams in AP
Classroom. You’ll have access to:

  • an online library of AP questions relevant to your course
  • personal progress checks with new formative questions
  • a dashboard to display results from progress checks and provide real-time insights
2019: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions

Theory Questions

Sight-Singing Questions

Theory Audio Prompts

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Coming Soon: Scoring Guidelines for CED Sample Free-Response Questions

Scoring guidelines for the sample exam questions within the AP Music Theory Course and Exam
will be posted later this summer.