AP Music Theory

I’m thinking about taking AP Music Theory as a freshman. I’ve completed up to CM Level 6, but I’m not sure if my theory level is enough to complete the test by this May. Should I try and take the AP test this year?


Not sure what CM Level is. And I’m a little unclear on your question.

If you are interested in music theory, by all means take the class. You can also take music theory at any conservatory prep.

There is no hurry in taking the AP Music Theory test but it makes sense to take it right after the class, if you take it.

Hi, thanks for the help!

CM refers to Certificate of Merit a music program, so I was wondering if my prior theory knowledge would be enough to complete the test with reasonable amounts of studying before May.

I’m trying to take the test most likely this year since in sophmore year, I’ll have more AP tests to worry about by next May

I do not think that I would take this as a freshman in high school.

One daughter took AP Music Theory. She liked the course a lot and got either an A or an A+ in it. However, it is a difficult course and was a lot of work. She is both probably the most talented musician that I have ever met, and a very strong student overall, and very strong at math.

In the first week of the class the teacher told the class that they would all hate her by the end of the year. This did not actually happen in my daughter’s case, but it was a tough class.

You will have time to take this later IMHO.


My school doesn’t offer it as a class, but I was suggested by a friend to self-study it over the course of the next 2 months and take the AP test. Would that still be an unreasonable time frame?

What are your goals, here, what is your reason for wanting to take the test?

If you are thinking about majoring in music, the AP theory test won’t help a lot. Better to take theory at a conservatory prep or wherever you can find one.

It seems you mainly just want the test score. I am not sure what that accomplishes but you may have a good reason.

My son chose to wait until his junior year to take it. He focused on adjusting to high school and wanted to focus and enjoy the class more.

The OP’s school does not over AP Music Theory. The OP wants to self-study.

Here is an online school that offers it: VHS Learning | VHS Learning

Why do you want to take the AP Music Theory Exam?

Both of our kids took the course and the exam. Both got 5s on the exam.

Kid one was a music major. Music theory was a required course and the AP exam didn’t get anything waived.

Kid two wasn’t able to apply her AP exam to anything at all towards her engineering degree.

It did not matter to them. They took the course because they wanted to.

So…why do you want to take this exam?

The OPs question may be moot as they will find it next to impossible to find a test center, and the AP Music Theory exam is one of the few without an online option this year.

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Would it be more beneficial to self-study over the summer and the next school year and hope that the online option would be available next May? Either that or it might be possible to do an in person test.

Just not sure of the benefit here. Why do you want to do this? I can’t think of a reason! If you want to learn more music theory on your own, great, but why the test?

Glad @skieurope had the info on the fact that no online test is being offered for Music Theory.

Sorry about the confusion. Mainly just to have AP test credits, and to have a 5.

If it wasn’t reasonable however, I would probably just focus on other things. I was just curious to find out things such as the workload to study for the test and if it was a viable option

IIRC, the test had two parts…the regular questions, and then a transcription part. It’s not an easy test.

It sounds like you don’t really have a good reason to take this.

2021 is the first year that there will be an online option for AP tests in some subjects. And that’s because of the pandemic. One hopes that Miss Rona will be a distant memory in 2022.

Regardless, the AP Music Theory exam is not an especially easy exam. Additionslly, for private colleges, it us a subject that relatively few give credit for. So I don’t really see the value in self studying it.

CM Level 6 is not enough to have a good score on AP Music Theory (4 or 5). It’s better to have above CM Level 9.

Most music students I know take the intro music theory at college, university, conservatory or school of music, regardless of AP music theory test score. Every school teaches it a little differently and every school has its own curriculum.

Focusing on other things sounds good. If you are a musician, spend the time practicing! :slight_smile:

@compmom most music majors in college are required to take the music theory courses at their college as part of their degree program. AP scores don’t waive this requirement.

It sounds like this student wants to do this to rack up 5 scores on the AP exams. In my opinion, their time can better be spent elsewhere.

@thumper1 you can test out of intro to theory, but it is better to take it anyway.

Depends on the college. Not true of all. And for those that do have an internal exam, it will generally be more comprehensive, and harder, than the AP Music Theory exam…at least in my experience.

Regardless, OP is a freshman, so has no idea where they will go to college or what future plans will be.