Music Theory Placement Exam

Welcome to the Casper College music program! As a music major at Casper College, you will take four semesters of Written Theory, Aural Theory, and Class Piano. These classes are designed to help you understand and fluently speak the language of music so that your performances are expressive and musical in nature, rather than “just playing the notes.”

Your success in these classes is dependent upon already having had enough musical experience to be able to read music and to demonstrate a basic perception of pitch and rhythm. To make sure you are prepared for the core sequence of theory classes, as a new music major at Casper College you will be required to take the Music Theory Placement Exam. This is a short (ten to fifteen minute) exam where you will do the following:

  • Identify the letter names of some notes written on your choice of treble, bass, or alto clef
  • Write a major scale of your choice on the clef of your choice
  • Identify some major key signatures
  • Relate different note values to each other (for example: how many eighth notes are equal to a quarter note?)
  • Draw missing barlines to make music fit a given time signature
  • Recognize by ear if one pitch is higher or lower than another pitch
  • Recognize the melodic shape of a recording you hear
  • Recognize the written rhythm of a recording you hear

If your placement exam indicates that you have some weaknesses in the above skills, you will be required to take Music Fundamentals during your first semester at Casper College. Music Fundamentals is a course specifically designed to introduce you to the basic elements of music and teach you how to read music notation, and it is offered as a supplemental course that you take along with the regular theory sequence. You are more than welcome to register for Music Fundamentals even if your placement exam doesn’t require you to take Music Fundamentals; many students find that the extra time and practice they get by taking Music Fundamentals helps them do better in their other classes.

You are encouraged to prepare for the Music Theory Placement Exam by practicing your music fundamentals over the summer. Some useful resources to help you prepare for the placement exam include:

We wish you every success as you start your education here at Casper College! If you have any questions about music theory or the placement exam, please feel free to send an email to our Music Theory Coordinator, Nathan Baker, at


Academic Assistant, School of Fine Arts & Humanities
Office: MU 137
Dean, School of Fine Arts and Humanities
Office: MU 132