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The AP Music Theory Exam

Important Updates

Beginning with the spring 2016 AP Music Theory Exam, students' sight-singing responses that are recorded digitally (for example, on a computer or in a digital language lab) will be submitted using the new Digital Audio Submission (DAS) portal, which replaces CD submission. Cassette tapes will continue to be an option for submitting sight-singing responses. You will need to choose in the AP Ordering system your preferred method for submission of student responses. There are no changes to the AP Music Theory course or exam. Please review the Digital Audio Response & Submission FAQ for additional information.

Exam Overview

AP MUSIC THEORY EXAM: 3 HOURS

The AP Music Theory Exam evaluates students' understanding of musical structure and compositional procedures through recorded and notated examples. Listening skills are emphasized, particularly those involving recognition and comprehension of melodic and rhythmic patterns, harmonic functions, small forms, and compositional techniques. Most of the musical examples are from standard repertoire; some examples of contemporary, jazz, vernacular music, or music beyond the Western tradition are included for testing basic concepts.

The exam requires fluency in reading musical notation and a strong grounding in music fundamentals, terminology, and analysis.

Format of Assessment

Section I: Multiple Choice | 75 Questions | ~80 Minutes | 45% of Exam Score

  • Questions based on aural stimuli
  • Questions not based on aural stimuli
  • Discrete questions
  • Questions in sets

Section II: Free Response | 9 Exercises | ~80 Minutes | 55% of Exam Score

  • Melodic and Harmonic Dictation
  • Part Writing from Roman Numerals and Figured Bass
  • Composition of a Bass Line
  • Sight-Singing

Multiple-Choice Questions

For sample multiple-choice questions, refer to the Course Description.

Free-Response Questions

Free-Response Questions 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 1999-2003



2016: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions      
Sight-Singing Questions      
Theory Audio Prompts      



2015: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts




2014: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts




2013: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts




2012: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts




2011: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts




2010: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Score Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing
Commentary Q1


Sight-Singing
Commentary Q2


Sight-Singing Samples
Theory Audio Prompts




2009: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Grade Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions

Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing Commentary Q1

Sight-Singing Commentary Q2

Sight-Singing Samples
Theory Audio Prompts




2008: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines

Sight-Singing Commentary Q1 

Sight-Singing Commentary Q2

Sight-Singing Samples

Theory Audio Prompts



2007: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing Commentary Q1

Sight-Singing Commentary Q2

Sight-Singing Samples
Theory Audio Prompts      



2006: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Theory Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Sight-Singing Samples Q1
Sight-Singing Samples Q2

Audio Samples
 
Theory Audio Prompts



2005: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Theory Scoring Guidelines

Scoring Commentary

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Music Theory Audio Samples: 2005  
Theory Audio Prompts      



2004: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Theory Scoring Guidelines

Scoring Commentary

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Music Theory Audio Samples: 2004  
Theory Audio Prompts      



2003: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples Grade Distributions
Theory Questions Theory Scoring Guidelines

Scoring Commentary

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Grade Distributions
Sight-Singing Questions Sight-Singing Scoring Guidelines Music Theory Audio Samples: 2003  
Theory Audio Prompts      


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