Music Theory Placement Exam and Study Guide

Theory Placement Exam

Students accepted to BGSU and the College of Musical Arts will take an online Music Theory Placement Exam in May.  


  • Determines placement regarding the appropriate theory class for the student’s level of knowledge.

  • Covers music fundamentals including:

    – Note identification
    – Basic clef reading and notation
    – Scale and interval construction/recognition
    – Musical terms


The exam will place you into one of the following: 

  • Basic Musicianship: a beginning level course that must be completed before Music Theory 1 can be taken. 

  • Music Theory 1 & Accelerated Fundamentals: the first music theory course required in the College of Musical Arts core curriculum PLUS a supplemental course on theory fundamentals. 

  • Music Theory 1: the first music theory course required in the College of Musical Arts core curriculum.

Suggested Preparation Materials

Materials listed below are suggestions to help assist you with preparation for the exam. These are just a few of the many resources available that cover music fundamentals. Choose one that works best for you. 


  • Elements of Music, 3rd ed., by Joseph N. Straus. Prentice Hall, 2011.  (ISBN-13: 978-0205007097)  

  • Fundamentals of Music, 7th ed., by Earl Henry, Jennifer Snodgrass, and Susan Piagentini. Pearson, 2019. (ISBN-13: 9780134491387)

  • The Musician’s Guide to Fundamentals, 3rd ed., by Jane Piper Clendinning, Elizabeth West Marvin, and Joel Phillips. W.W. Norton, 2018. (ISBN-13 : 978-0393639162) 


Software available for purchase

Prepare for the Exam

A sample test and theory work sheets are available in PDF format.

Sample Test Theory Work Sheets