Graduate Music Theory Diagnostic Exam Practice

Welcome to the Graduate Music Theory Diagnostic Exam - Practice Examples page. The purpose of this online resource is to help you prepare for the exam. Each section of the exam will be described in detail with citations of the current textbooks that we use (where appropriate). Each section will have sample questions that you can use to test your skill. Answers are just a click away.

All incoming graduate students must take the diagnostic exams appropriate to their degree. Exams are graded in three tiers - Pass (requiring no remediation), Review (essentially a low pass - not requiring remediation but indicating that the subject could use some work), and Deficient (requiring remediation through taking a course or retaking the exam after review). Only one retake is allowed per exam. Deficiencies must be cleared from your transcript before you will be allowed to take your oral exams in order to begin work on your final document (M.M. thesis, Ph.D. dissertation, D.M.A. lecture-recital, D.M.A. document, etc.).

Music students from all over the world come to do their graduate studies at KU. There is an enormous variety in the type and depth of music theory experience that students have when beginning their studies here. For example most schools cover the basics of tonal harmony but some undergraduate programs do not require any Post-tonal theory or Classical Form analysis - both of which are considered important here at KU. Every graduate student is expected to be proficient in four music theory areas - 1) aural skills, 2) basic harmony and voice leading, 3) form, and 4) post-tonal theory (set theory/12–tone theory). Keyboard players, composers, theorists, and musicologists must also show proficiency in counterpoint (focusing on 18th century techniques). For most of our degrees there is a strong academic component which integrates literature, history, and theory. So, the purpose of the exam is to make sure that you are properly advised about how you will fit in with KU academic work.

Additional Helpful Information

For more detailed questions about the exams or other graduate school opportunities contact the Graduate Student Services Coordinator at