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Music Theory Placement Exam

A student’s first music theory course assignment is determined by a theory diagnostic exam that is administered during orientation. Students who demonstrate proficiency on this exam will be placed into MUTH 107 (the entry level course for CWRU music majors) or higher. Those who do not will be placed into MUTH 003, a course that prepares students for MUTH 107 by building basic proficiencies.

During the placement exam, students should be prepared to do the following:

Written fundamentals

  • Read treble, bass, and alto clefs
  • Recognize, identify, and correctly write key signatures for any major or minor key
  • Be able to write major and minor scales using necessary accidentals rather than key signatures.
  • Identify and write major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads in root position
  • Write and identify intervals through the octave.

Ear training

  • Be able to identify triad qualities (root position major, minor, augmented, and diminished)
  • Identify intervals through the perfect octave by ear
  • Correctly write the soprano and bass lines of a short harmonic dictation. We ask for the Roman numeral analysis for placement purposes, not as a requirement for 107.

Individual sight singing placement evaluation

  • Students will be given the starting pitch and letter names for each of the following:
  • Sing a major scale (ascending and descending) with letter names
  • Sing a harmonic minor scale (ascending and descending) with letter names
  • Sing a major and a minor root position triad with letter names.
  • Sing three intervals (they can be ascending or descending) up to/including a perfect 5th.
  • Sight read two short, simple melodies. One is in treble clef, one is in bass. One is in a major key and one is in a minor key. The only skips in these melodies will be within the tonic triad.


Students can prepare for the exam by using the following resources:

Page last modified: May 19, 2015