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CWU Department of Music
Phone: (509) 963-1216
Fax: (509) 963-1239
music@cwu.edu

Music Theory Prerequisite Exam

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. Those students whose fundamental skills are less developed are often completely overwhelmed during the first quarter of study. The prerequisite is designed to ensure student success in the CWU Music Theory sequence and enable the theory courses to be a satisfying experience for all students. In order to satisfy this requirement one of the following must be met:

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

Please note - You will not be permitted to register in any music classes, except ensembles, without having satisfied one of these two prerequisites.

When do​ I take the e​xam?

The exam is available between May 1st and August 1st and MUST be passed before you come to your summer orientation/registration session. This theory pre-requisite must be complete by August 1st.

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:
    • Go to the fundamentals placement exam page on the mywebtext site
    • Add the Placement Exam "Onmusic Fundamentals Placement Exam" to your cart
    • Place your order
      Once the order has been placed and the payment has been processed, you should receive a serial number/access code via e-mail to register for the Placement Exam. Follow the instructions provided using the following information:
      • School: Central Washington University
      • Instructor: Kirsten Boldt-Neurohr
      • Semester: Summer 2020
      • Course: MUS 100-001 Theory Diagnostic Exam
      • 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 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 not pass on your second try, you must register for and take the On Music Theory Fundamentals Course and pass with a “B” or better before you can enroll in MUS 144 at your summer orientation/registration session.

What's on the music fundamentals exam?

The exam has 100 multiple-choice questions. You will have 105 consecutive minutes to take the test. Plan to take the test at a time when you will be undisturbed for 105 consecutive minutes. 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? Theory Placement Exam Study Guide (PDF)

Additional questions should be directed to: 
Dr. Kirsten Boldt-Neurohr
Advising & Recruiting Specialist
Kirsten.Boldt-Neurohr@cwu.edu
(509) 963-1265

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