Music Theory: How the Exam Works

This year the AP Music Theory Exam consists of Question 1 (two part-writing questions) and Question 2 (two sight-singing questions). You’ll write out your response to Question 1 on an answer sheet that you’ll prepare before exam day, and you’ll record your response to Question 2 using recording software or an app.

General Information

  • On exam day, all questions will appear in a regular web browser, which will allow you to operate other software or apps at the same time.
  • You should use the sample questions to practice exactly how you plan to take the test:

Question 1

Before the exam, you’ll need to prepare your 2020 Question 1 Music Theory Answer Sheet (.pdf/91 KB) by printing or hand copying it. 

During the exam, you’ll need to copy by hand portions of the Question 1 prompts onto your prepared answer sheet and then complete the question. View a sample response for Question 1 (.pdf/3.8 MB).

  • Copy errors will adversely affect your score if the errors result in an answer that doesn’t address what’s asked for in the question prompt. For example, if the prompt asks you to realize a I – V – I progression, and you realize a I – IV – I progression, the IV chord would be marked as incorrect in the same manner as on the traditional exam.
  • You must submit a photo of your handwritten answer on your prepared answer sheet for your response to be eligible for scoring. We will not accept a photo of the printed question prompt filled in by hand, or any response generated using notation software or a digital stylus.
  • You’ll take a photo of your completed answer sheet and attach it to the exam. The photo must be one of the accepted file types: .jpeg, .jpg, .png. Learn how to attach files in the online exam.
  • There are no requirements for naming your file. You just need to be able to locate it on your device to attach it to the exam.

Question 2

You’ll be responsible for recording your singing using your preferred software or app. Listen to a sample audio response for Question 2 (.m4a/1.5 MB).

  • The exam gives specific written instructions, similar to those you would receive on the traditional proctored exam, about stating your AP ID and recording the two melodies.
  • You’ll be instructed to pause your recording at specific times in order to prepare each melody (this includes finding your starting pitches).
  • Your two responses need to be in one file.
  • The file type needs to be one of the following: .m4a, .mp3, .wav, .ogg. Learn how to attach audio files in the online exam.
  • There are no requirements for naming your file. You just need to be able to locate it on your device to attach it to the exam.

Resources