Placement Exam Information

Students auditioning to BGSU and the College of Musical Arts will take a timed Music Theory Placement Exam. Transfer students, please read the information in the “Transfer Credit Information” section at the bottom of this page.

If auditioning:

  • In-person: the exam will be administered the day of your audition. The exact time of the exam will be indicated on your individual audition schedule sent approximately one week prior to your audition date.
  • Virtually or by Recording: the exam will be administered online through Canvas and will be open and available starting January 15, 2023.
    • Students are added to the Canvas exam using their BGSU username, which must be created by the student with their bgsu email address.
    • The exam must be completed by midnight February 25th, 2023.

Results of the exam will be shared with students via email once graded (approx. 1 week after audition dates).

Students are able to take the exam a second time if they wish to better their score. This retake exam will be administered online in Canvas for everyone with a deadline of completion no later than May 15. Students should contact if they wish to utilize this option.


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

  • Covers music fundamentals including:

    – Pitch identification (staff and keyboard), standard notation practices (pitch and rhythm), basic musical terms and symbols
    – Writing major and minor scales
    – Major and minor key signatures
    – Identifying and constructing intervals
    – Identifying and constructing triads, including triads in inversions


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

Incoming music students will be placed in MUED 1500 (Introductory Class Piano). This class requires no prior piano experience, but familiarity with note identification in treble and bass clef, intervals, triads, key signatures, time signatures, and basic rhythms is extremely helpful.

Here are some websites that provide practice with these concepts:

Students may wish to know a little about what is covered in MUED 1500. Here is a brief overview, in case you would like to prepare for this course in advance:

1.   Major and minor 5-finger patterns, similar to those found here

2.  Chord progressions using correct voice leading, similar to those found here

3.  Sightreading (playing music previously unseen) and transposing (playing in a key different than the one written) using the 5-finger patterns and chords described above. Use the Piano setting on Level 4 at for practice with similar examples.

4.  Harmonizing and improvising melodies using the 5-finger patterns and primary chords mentioned above.

Students with significant prior piano experience can test out of class piano courses. All attempts to test out take place during the week before classes and the first week of each semester. Please contact the Class Piano Coordinator, Dr. Cole Burger for more information about testing out.

Transfer Credit Information

Music Theory and Aural Skills credits taken at other institutions typically transfer to BGSU as generic music credits and will not fulfill the music theory and aural skills credits required of the degree plans at BGSU. Students transferring to the College of Musical Arts will take the Theory Placement Exam as outlined above and may take additional tests to place out of theory and aural skills classes at BGSU.  Once you have a passing placement test score, you may contact the MUCT department chair to schedule further testing.

One exception is if you have taken the entire Theory and Aural Skills 1-4 class sequence at an Ohio school covered by the state’s transfer assurance policies. In this case those credits will transfer as Music Theory and Aural Skills credits and will satisfy those requirements in the music degree plans at BGSU.

Please consult the Office of Transfer Credit Evaluation and/or a Transfer Advisor during your application process to get a full understanding of what credits transfer from your previous institution and how they count toward your intended degree at BGSU.

Updated: 09/27/2023 10:29AM