Music Theory Testing

At the Sunderman Conservatory of Music we offer extensive training in music theory and musicianship. All auditioning students will take an online music theory assessment as well as an in-person (or virtual) aural skills assessment as part of the audition process. These assessments are not entrance exams, but are instead diagnostic in nature and determine where students begin the music theory sequence when they arrive on campus as Gettysburg College students. We encourage all students to prepare for these exams by looking over the materials provided below. If you have any questions about the music theory and aural skills assessments, please feel free to contact Dr. Amanda Heim ( with any questions.

The regular music theory placement test will assess your ability to:

  1. Quickly name pitches on the staff in both treble and bass clef.
  2. Write given notes on a staff and match those pitches to the same pitches on a keyboard.
  3. Determine the meter (time signature) of a musical excerpt.
  4. Beam rhythms correctly in order to display common meters (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8).
  5. Add bar lines given a meter signature in order to display a common meter.
  6. Identify and write major key signatures in treble and bass clef.
  7. Match a pitch that is played on the piano with your voice.
  8. Perform a short rhythmic excerpt from sight.
  9. Sing a short melody from sight after establishing the starting pitch on the keyboard.

Here are a few practice problems:

Regarding meter and beaming:

Beam together notes in order to best display the meter indicated.

Music Theory 1

Music Theory 2


Music Theory 3

Music Theory 4

Provide the best possible meter signature for the following unmetered passages.

Music Theory 5

Answer: 6/8

Music Theory 5

Answer: 4/4

Resources for Summer Theory Study

An excellent resource for your preparation is the textbook, Elements of Music by Joseph Strauss available as ebook on Amazon.

You can access the following online tutorials to help you:

Eastman School of Music eTheory: Music Fundamentals in 4 weeks (Note: this is an online course that teaches Music Theory fundamentals and is not a free resource.)

To improve skills reading bass or treble clef:

To improve identifying keys based on key signature:

Keyboard harmony is a major component of theory studies. If you do not have a background in piano or keyboard instruments, we encourage you to work with a piano instructor over the summer.