Placement Test – Music Theory

A fundamental part of The Young Americans’ College Program is understanding music theory. We know not every student has the same background, so a music theory placement test during orientation week is used to determine where students will begin in our program – Music Fundamentals or Music Theory I*.

Below is a list of concepts that will be covered in each of the specified courses. Use the lists to check your current comfort level with each concepts and then check out the resources below to begin studying prior to your arrival in California.

*Course sequencing subject to program of enrollment and placement.

Students need to understand the following:

  • Elements of the grand staff
    • Treble and bass clefs
    • Barlines
    • Brace
    • Staff lines
  • Pitch Identification
    • Note names
    • Ledger lines
    • Accidentals (flats, sharps, natural)
  • Rhythmic duration of each note
    • Quarter, half, eighth, whole, dotted half notes and rests
  • Time Signatures
    • 2/4, 3/4 , 4/4
  • Intervallic distance between notes
    • Whole steps and half steps
    • 2nds, 3rds, etc.
  • Scales
    • Major
    • Natural minor
  • Key Signatures
    • Major
  • Chords
    • Major and minor triads

In addition to the list above, students need to understand the following:

  • Clefs
    • Alto, tenor, percussion
  • Accidentals
    • Double sharps, double flats
  • Rhythmic duration of each note
    • Sixteenth, dotted quarter, dotted eighths, tuplets (triplets, etc.) notes and rests
  • Time Signatures
    • Duple (2/2, 4/8, etc.)
    • Compound (6/8, 9/8, 12/8, etc.)
  • Intervallic Qualities
    • Major, minor, diminished, augmented
      • Ex. Major 3rd (M3) or augmented 4th (+4)
  • Scales
    • Minor (melodic, harmonic)
  • Key Signatures
    • Relative minor
  • Chords
    • Major, minor, diminished, augmented triads


Check out the video below for some helpful theory tips!

Test yourself by taking the sample test below and then comparing your answers to the key.