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Home > AP Courses and Exams > AP Exam Information > The AP Music Theory Exam

The AP Music Theory Exam

Exam Content

The first music exam the AP Program offered was in 1972, when 268 students took AP Music Listening and Literature. In 1978, a new music exam was introduced: AP Music Theory, which shared a common component with the AP Music Listening and Literature exam. Both music exams were administered until 1991, when AP Music Listening and Literature was dropped from the program.

The AP Music Theory Examination tests the student's understanding of musical structure and compositional procedures through recorded and notated examples. Strong emphasis is given to listening skills, particularly those involving recognition and comprehension of melodic and rhythmic patterns, harmonic functions, small forms, and compositional techniques. Most of the musical examples are taken from standard repertoire, although some examples of contemporary, jazz, vernacular music, or music beyond the Western tradition are included for testing basic concepts. The examination assumes fluency in reading musical notation and a strong grounding in music fundamentals, terminology, and analysis. A list of commonly used terms that may appear in the examination can be found in the current edition of the Teacher's Guide. A full list of topics that may be covered in the examination is available in the current Course Description.

Preparing Student-Response CDs
When burning each student's MP3 file to the provided student-response CD, be sure to select “Data Disc” or “Data CD” (not "Audio Disc" or "Audio CD") in the preferences of your CD-burning application. Do not use applications such as Windows Media Player or iTunes versions that only allow burning audio discs or CDs.


Multiple-Choice Questions

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

If you are using assistive technology and need help accessing these PDFs in another format, please contact us at ssd@info.collegeboard.org. Note: versions of these PDFs with enhanced accessibility will be available in the upcoming academic year. Free-Response Questions

Below are free-response questions from past AP Music Theory Exams. Included with the questions are scoring guidelines, sample student responses, and commentary on those responses, as well as exam statistics and the Chief Reader's Student Performance Q&A for past administrations. 

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


2014: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Theory Questions

Scoring Guidelines
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
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      


Important Note: PDF Files
The links to exam questions for this course are in Adobe® PDF format, and you will need to use the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® to view them. If you don't have Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher installed on your computer, choose the link for the Adobe Web site below for installation instructions. For help downloading and printing PDF files, choose the link "PDF Troubleshooting" below in "See also."


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