School of Music

Future Students

Music Theory Placement Exam Requirement

  • All incoming music majors must take the online diagnostic exam offered through
  • The exam is found online and costs $10.00
  • The test can be taken at anytime, however it is recommended that you take it as early as possible
  • In order to take MUS 251 (first semester music theory core) you must earn at least 80% on the online placement exam


To take the exam :

  1. Go to
  2. Click the Online Store image to access the Online Store
  3. Click on the “Placement Exam” on the left side of the page and follow the instructions for ordering the Exam
  4. Once your payment is processed you will receive an email with a serial number and directions to log on to the exam


What is on the exam?

  1. The online exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 90 minutes
  2. The exam consists of questions that will test your knowledge on the following subjects:
  • Reading pitches in bass and treble clefs
  • Reading and understanding rhythmic note and rest values
  • Time signatures, both simple and compound
  • Building and/or identifying written triads—major, minor, diminished, augmented
  • Building and/or recognizing written major and the three minor scales
  • Building and/or recognizing written major and minor key signatures
  • Aural interval recognition
  • Aural chord (triad) quality recognition
  • Aural recognition of all major and minor scales
  • If you feel that you have a basic knowledge of this information but would like some review, a study guide is available on the School of Music website: in the "Future Students" section
  • You are encouraged to use the websites and to practice and prepare written and aural skills
  • If you feel unprepared to take the exam we recommend that you take the online Introductory Music Theory course offered by WSU, accessible at This course is not for credit, and will not appear on your transcript. The cost to take it is $200. A grade of B or higher for this course will allow you to enroll in MUS 251.
  • You also have the option to wait


What happens if you do not pass the online exam?

If you do not earn 80% or better on the diagnostic exam,
you have three options:

  1. You may retake the exam ONE time after an unsuccessful attempt at no extra cost. Make sure you have properly prepared before retaking the exam.
  2. You may take the online Introductory Music Theory course for $200 to earn a B or better in the course.
  3. You may also wait until the WSU school year begins and take MUS 151 in the spring semester.  A C or better will allow you entry into MUS 251 the following semester. It is important to realize that this will set you back one year in your core theory courses.


Summary of Theory Placement Exam Requirement

  • Incoming music majors must earn 80% or better on the online placement exam offered through in order to enroll in MUS 251, or
  • A grade of B or better in the online Introductory Music Theory course offered through the WSU School of Music website will allow students to enroll in MUS 251, or
  • A grade of C or better in Washington State University’s MUS 151 will allow students to enroll in MUS 251.


If you have any questions, please contact the Coordinator of Music Theory:

Dr. Ryan Hare
(509) 335-4245


Heading using the h3tag

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

School of Music, PO Box 645300, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5300, 509-335-3898, Contact Us