If you are a music student planning to take the AP Music Theory exam, it’s important to know what to expect. The exam is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of music theory concepts, including harmony, melody, composition, and analysis. Here’s a breakdown of what the AP Music Theory exam is like.

Exam Format

The AP Music Theory exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. The multiple-choice section consists of 75 questions and accounts for 60% of your overall score. The free-response section includes two questions – one sight-singing task and one written response – and accounts for 40% of your overall score.

Multiple-Choice Section

The multiple-choice section of the AP Music Theory exam covers a wide range of topics, including scales, chords, intervals, cadences, and musical notation. You’ll be asked to identify chords by their Roman numeral notation or their inversion, determine the key signature of a piece of music, and identify cadences based on their sound.

Example Question:

Which chord does this Roman numeral represent in the key of C Major?

Free-Response Section

The free-response section of the AP Music Theory exam includes both a sight-singing task and a written response question.

For the sight-singing task, you’ll be given a short piece of music that you’ve never seen before. You’ll have a few minutes to study it before singing it out loud in front of an examiner.

For the written response question, you’ll be asked to analyze a piece of music based on its harmonic structure, melodic development, and other musical elements. You may also be asked to compose a short piece of music based on specific guidelines.

Example Question:

Analyze the harmonic structure of this excerpt from Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 5” in D Major.
[Image of musical notation]

Preparing for the Exam

To prepare for the AP Music Theory exam, it’s important to review all of the key concepts covered in class, including scales, chords, intervals, and cadences. Practice sight-singing exercises to improve your ability to read music notation quickly and accurately.

You can also take practice exams to get a feel for the types of questions that will be asked on the real exam. There are many resources available online, including official College Board practice exams and study guides.


The AP Music Theory exam is a challenging but rewarding test that requires a deep understanding of music theory concepts and excellent sight-singing skills. With proper preparation and practice, you can succeed on this exam and earn college credit for your hard work.