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Music Theory Placement

Interested in taking music theory classes? You can start by self-registering for MUS 103 (Theory and Musicianship I) and MUS 104 (Theory and Musicianship I). If you’ve already studied music theory and would like to see if you can test out of MUS 103, the Music Theory Placement Test (MTPT) is for you. It assesses your knowledge of the basic principles of written music theory to determine if you’re proficient enough to skip MUS 103 and start with MUS 153, Theory and Musicianship II.

  • Note that eligibility for MUS 153 also requires students to have already taken MUS 104 (Theory and Musicianship Lab I) or to be simultaneously enrolled in MUS 104 throughout the entire semester.

Students who have taken the AP Music Theory Exam should first consult NC State’s Advanced Placement policy for allowable credit earned toward MUS 103 and 104. For these students, the Music Theory Placement Test (MTPT) is not required pending the confirmation of scores.

Review the frequently asked questions below to learn more about how to access and take the Music Theory Placement Test (MTPT).

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the MTPT operates under the Honor Code of NC State. You are required to comply with the university policy on academic integrity found in the Code of Student Conduct.

Violations of academic integrity will be handled in accordance with the Student Discipline Procedures. Specifically, no outside materials, electronic devices, musical instruments, study-aids, assistance or collaboration of any kind may be used or accessed during the test, EXCEPT for blank paper and blank staff paper to take notes. Any attempt to print, provide, sell or otherwise circulate the MTPT is prohibited and considered a violation of academic integrity. 

Yes. To qualify for a testing accommodation, you must (1) be registered with the Disability Resource Office (DRO) at NC State University and (2) request an accommodation for the MTPT. Visit the DRO website for more information.

  1. Arrange for registration confirmation with DRO to be sent to Tom Koch, music theory coordinator, tdkoch@ncsu.edu.
  2. Register into the MTPT Moodle Course as outlined below, but do NOT open the MTPT itself.
  3. Email Dr. Koch to confirm that you have registered for the MTPT Moodle Course.
  4. You will be contacted by return email once the time window for the accommodation has been set.
  5. You may begin the test at your convenience.
  1. The test contains 60 multiple-choice and true/false questions.
  2. The test is timed at 60 minutes; open attempts are submitted automatically after 60 minutes and unanswered questions are counted as wrong.
  3. The test must be taken in one sitting and can only be taken once. Only a single login is permitted. Ensure you are in a location free of distraction and have a reliable internet connection.
  4. You are not required to answer questions sequentially and may return to unanswered questions or to change answers. Only when you hit “Submit all and finish” will you not be allowed to return to the test.
  5. During the test, DO NOT click on the “back” or “refresh” button on your browser.You are permitted only to use blank paper and blank staff paper to take notes during the test. Otherwise, no electronic devices, musical instruments, study-aids or assistance of any kind are permitted during the test. If you are found to be using any of the above items, you are in violation of the Honor Code and disciplinary action will be taken.
  6. Browser security will enable full-screen popup with Java-Script security. Java-Script must be enabled on your computer.

Note that no test questions require listening. Topics covered by the test include:

  • Time signatures in simple and compound meters
  • Rhythmic values and rhythmic notation
  • Pitch notation in treble, bass, alto, tenor clefs
  • Enharmonic pitches
  • Major and minor scales
  • Major and minor scale degrees
  • Major and minor key signatures
  • Relative keys
  • Intervals (simple and compound)
  • Interval inversions
  • Triad qualities
  • Triad inversions
  • Indications of tempo, dynamics, and signs of repeat

These websites offer basic tutorials and practice exercises useful to a first-year theory student. 

First, immediately attempt to re-login to the test and continue. If you are unable to do so, contact Dr. Koch right away and explain what happened. Provide screenshots, if possible.

  1. You must receive 80% or above to pass (48 or more correct answers). The software will notify you immediately after you submit the test if you passed. All scores are final. To minimize the sharing of test data, you will not be able to review your results, or the questions you may have answered incorrectly, or the answers to questions. 
  2. If your grade is below 80%, you will be prompted to enroll in MUS 103. 
  3. If your grade is 80% or above, you are eligible for MUS 153. Note that eligibility for MUS 153 also requires students to have already taken MUS 104 (Theory and Musicianship Lab I) or to be simultaneously enrolled in MUS 104 throughout the entire semester. Notify Dr. Koch if you wish to be enrolled in MUS 153. 
  4. Note that passing the MTPT does not assign academic credit toward graduation, nor does it preclude music minors from making up the three credits of MUS 103 through another approved MUS course. Music minors should consult with their minor advisor on a regular basis about completing course requirements in a timely manner.
  1. Internet Explorer has been known to create difficulties when using Moodle. We recommend utilizing Google Chrome or another browser.
  2. The MTPT can be accessed on the MTPT Moodle site.
  3. Login on the left side with your NC State Unity ID and password. Do not create a new account and do not login as a Brickyard guest.
  4. At the top, you will see “Enrollment options.” Enroll first by clicking Enroll me at the bottom of the screen. You now have 14 days in which to take the MTPT, after which time you will be automatically unenrolled from the course.
  5. At the top of the next screen, you will see the Music Theory Placement Test link. When you are ready to take your exam in 60 minutes, click that link.  
  6. At the bottom of the next screen, click Attempt quiz now. You will be asked to enter the “quiz password.” The password is theorytest1234. Only access the test when you are absolutely ready to take it.

Theory Lab I Proficiency Test

Students who pass the Music Theory Placement Test are eligible for the Theory Lab I (MUS 104) Proficiency Test. This test is optional, and students who have never received training in these skills are recommended simply to enroll in MUS 104.

This is a 1-hour face-to-face test that assesses your aural perception skills in the following areas:

  • sight-singing
  • melodic and rhythmic dictation
  • melodic error detection
  • scale degree identification
  • scale form identification
  • chord quality identification

Passing this test waives the MUS 104 requirement for music majors and minors and qualifies them for MUS 154. Students interested in taking the Theory Lab I Proficiency Test should contact the music theory coordinator for testing information.


Please contact Tom Koch with any additional questions about music theory placement.

Tom Koch

Associate Teaching Professor | Associate Department Head