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Homepage Home > Testing > AP > Coordinating the Exam > Exams Requiring Special Preparation > Music Theory Exam

Music Theory Exam

Special equipment and procedures

Beginning with the spring 2016 AP Music Theory exam, students’ sight-singing responses that are recorded digitally (for example, on a computer or using language lab technology) will be submitted via an online application that replaces CD submission. Cassette tapes will continue to be an option for submitting sight-singing responses. You will need to choose in the AP Ordering system, your preferred method for submission of student responses.  There are no changes to the AP Music Theory course or exam. Please review the Digital Audio Response & Submission FAQ for additional information and consult with your AP Music Theory teacher to decide on the best option for your school. Refer to the AP Coordinator's Manual for full instructions and procedures for preparing for and administering the AP Music Theory Exam. The AP Music Theory Exam is similar in format to the AP Exams in world languages and requires the use of master CDs for playback and requires the recording of student audio responses.

Exam Preparation

AP Coordinators must prepare for the recording portion of the AP Music Theory Exam:

  • Select the method students will use to record their responses for the sight-singing portion of the exams, i.e., tape, digital language lab, or computer.
  • Hold several practice recording sessions so that you, the AP teachers, your school's technical staff (if applicable), the proctors, and the students gain a full understanding of the process.
  • Encourage AP teachers to practice recording student responses using the method that will be used on exam day. This way, students will become familiar with the process and confident about using it.
  • Make sure that students practice with released free-response questions and short-answer questions from the course and exam descriptions available on AP Central®, or practice exams by teachers of authorized AP courses, which are accessible on the AP Course Audit website.
  • Have proctors practice saving and naming MP3 files.
  • Give proctors a way to cross-reference students' AP numbers to ensure that the proper MP3 files have been saved.
  • Remind proctors that they will need to check all students' MP3 files to make sure the files can be played.
  • Work with your school's administration to establish a quiet testing environment. Refrain from using bells and making PA announcements during testing, if possible, and ensure that proctors do not converse with other staff during the exam.

Ordering materials

Each school's order for the AP Music Theory Exam contains one master listening and one master sight-singing CD. Some schools administer the sight-singing section of the exam in multiple locations. If you plan to do this, you should order the same number of master sight-singing CDs as you will have testing locations. You can order additional master CDs when you place your AP Exam order online.

Exam room setup

The music room or a regular classroom can be used for the written part of the exam. Make sure students seated in any part of the room can clearly hear the music played on the equipment that will be used during the administration. If a language lab is used for this part, the music must be broadcast through external speakers. Students must not listen to the music through headphones. If your school does not have an appropriate exam room, consider using another facility.

The sight-singing part of the test must be administered to one student at a time in a room where the student can both practice and perform in isolation from other students. The room may be a classroom, a small office, or any other comfortable enclosed space where the appropriate equipment can be set up and where the student cannot be distracted or heard by the other students waiting to take this part of the exam. The student and the exam proctor should be the only ones in this recording room during testing. Because students are performing one at a time, if you are testing more than 10 students it is recommended that you set up another exam room for each additional five students. You will need to order one extra master sight-singing CD for each additional room.

Necessary equipment

  • CD player: You will need a high-quality CD player with speakers to play the master listening and sight-singing CDs.
  • Tape recorder (if not recording using digital technology and saving as an MP3 file): You will need a tape recorder to record student sight-singing portions if you are not using digital recording equipment (for example, on a computer or using language lab technology, saving as an MP3 file, and submitting online).

Reference materials

Customized Entry Pages


  • AP Services
  • P.O. Box 6671
  • Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6671
  • Phone: 877-274-6474 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 212-632-1781
  • Email:

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