Music Theory

Undergraduate Validation/Exemption Exams in Music Theory

The Department of Music Theory offers validation/exemption exams ("V/E exams") in the core undergraduate music theory courses listed below. These exams are intended for students who come to the Jacobs School of Music already in possession of some substantial knowledge of music theory and mastery of aural skills, usually as a result of having taken comparable courses at other institutions. The exams provide a way for these students to demonstrate their mastery of the material, thereby being exempted from the requirement of having to take the courses. In some cases students may also receive course credit by passing the exam; questions about credit should be directed to the Music Undergraduate Office.

Validation/Exemption Exam Schedule

All of the V/E exams are administered at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. In the summer, V/E exams are administered only for the courses offered during that summer session. Click the link above for the schedule of upcoming V/E exams; see also this additional opportunity for taking V/E exams in aural skills classes only. For the regularly scheduled V/E exams at the beginning of the semester, it is not necessary to sign up in advance; students should simply show up at the designated room, with a photo ID, approximately ten minutes before the starting time shown on the schedule. These exams will not be administered at any other times besides those officially scheduled.

A student may take the V/E exam for any course only once. Students who have previously taken any V/E exam, or who have been enrolled in the course in question beyond the first week of classes in any previous semester, are not eligible to take the exam.

See below for further information about the V/E exam in each course. Note that some of the exams are in multiple parts (written and listening components for written theory and literature courses; dictation, sight-singing hearings, and keyboard hearings for aural skills courses). In general a composite grade of 72.5%, corresponding to a grade of C, is required to pass each exam.

In some courses, as noted in the descriptions, in addition to passing the V/E exam, students must complete an additional assignment, such as a short composition or an analytical paper, in order to be exempted from the course. In such cases the student will receive a grade of "Conditional Pass" on the exam. The Conditional Pass will convert to "Pass" if the additional assignment is completed satisfactorily within the allotted time. If it is not, the Conditional Pass will convert to a failing grade on the exam, and the student will be required to take the course in a later semester. If a student registers for a subsequent class (for which the class being validated is a prerequisite), the student must complete all Conditional Pass requirements by Monday of the third week of the semester in order to remain registered.

Validation for a course cannot be given unless the student has also completed all prerequisites for that course (either by taking the prerequisite courses or by passing the corresponding V/E exams). If a student passes the V/E exam for a course without having completed all the prerequisites, the exam grade will be recorded as Conditional Pass until the prerequisites have been completed. In particular:

  • As a prerequisite for T151 Music Theory and Literature I, students must complete either Music Fundamentals Online or T109 Rudiments of Music (more details here). A student who passes the V/E exam for T151 without having completed either MFO or T109 will be given a Conditional Pass for T151.

  • T151 Music Theory and Literature I is a prerequisite for T132 Musical Skills I, and therefore for all subsequent aural skills classes. A student who passes the V/E exam for any aural skills class without having completed T151 will be given a Conditional Pass for the aural skills class.

Exam Descriptions

T109 Rudiments of Music:  see Music Fundamentals Online

Aural skills courses
  • T132 Musical Skills I

  • T231 Musical Skills II

  • T232 Musical Skills III

  • T331 Musical Skills IV

Written theory and literature courses
  • T151 Music Theory and Literature I

  • T152 Music Theory and Literature II

  • T251 Music Theory and Literature III

  • T252 Music Theory and Literature IV

  • T351 Music Theory and Literature V