Skip to body


Freshman Theory Fundamentals Exam

Theory Home | Dr. Martin Kennedy | Fundamentals Course

Music Theory Prerequisite
After you've been accepted to both CWU and the music program, you will be required to complete the Theory Prerequisite. This requirement is for all incoming Freshman and is mandatory for entering the beginning music theory sequence (MUS 144) at CWU.

  • You must score 75% or better on an online Music Fundamentals Placement Exam. OR
  • If you score less than 75%, you must pass an online Fundamentals course with a grade of B or better.

You will not be permitted to register in any music classes, except ensembles, without having met these two prerequisites.

When do​ I take the e​xam?
The exam is currently available and MUST be taken and passed before you come to your summer orientation/registration session.

How do I ta​ke the exam? 
This exam is taken on-line at home and will cost $10.00

  • CWU will have access to the results of your exam. If you score 75% or better, you will be permitted to register for music courses at your summer orientation/registration session.
  • To take the Placement Exam:
    • a) Go to the web site:
    • b) Click the “Placement Exams” link located on the left side of the page
    • e) Select "OnMusic Fundamentals - Placement Exam ONLY" Place your order - Once the order has been placed and the payment has been processed, you will receive a serial number/access code via e-mail to register for the Placement Exam at:
    • f) Enter the following information:
      • School: Central Washington University
      • Instructor: Carroll, Sara
      • Semester: Ongoing
      • Course: MUS – 198-001 Music Fundamentals Placement Course
      • Enter your access code
      • Fill in remaining information and Click submit. 
      • Scoring 75% or better will automatically enroll you in MUS 144.

What happens if I get less than 75% on the exam?
If your score was close to passing and you are pretty sure that with some studying you can pass it, you can retake it ONE time at no extra cost. It is set up, however, so that only one retake is possible, so be sure of your knowledge before your 2nd try! If you do poorly on the exam or do not pass on your second try, you must register for and take the OnMusic Fundamentals Course and pass with a “B” or better before you can enroll in MUS 144 at your summer orientation/registration session.

To access the On Music Fundamentals Course click here

What's on the music fundamentals exam?
The exam has 160 multiple-choice questions. You will have 90 consecutive minutes to take the test. Plan to take the test at a time when you will be undisturbed for 90 consecutive minute. The exam tests the following:

  • Reading pitches in bass and treble clefs
  • Reading/understanding durational note and rest values (quarter-note or rest, eighth-note or rest, etc.)
  • Time signatures, both simple and compound
  • Aural pitch comparison recognition (which pitch is higher or lower than another)
  • Building and/or identifying written triads – major, minor, diminished, augmented
  • Building and/or recognizing written major and the three minor scales
  • Building and/or recognizing written major and minor key signatures
  • Triad inversions
  • The dominant seventh chord
  • Aural interval recognition
  • Aural chord (triad) quality recognition
  • Aural recognition of all major and minor scales
  • Identification of cadences, half, authentic, deceptive, plagal, perfect, imperfect

Need Help? Review the Theory Placement Exam Study Guide here!

Additional questions should be directed to: 
Sara Carroll
Advising & Recruiting Specialist