Graduate Students

All incoming graduate students must take a theory diagnostic test. The purpose of this test is to ensure that your understanding of music theory is commensurate with holding an undergraduate degree in music. If the test shows significant gaps in your music theory knowledge and skills, you will be required to undertake remedial work in consultation with the faculty.

The test has both a written component and an aural component (see below).

Due to the situation with covid-19, arrangements will need to be made to ensure that you are able to take the test safely. Dr. Stephen Gosden will contact the incoming graduate students at the beginning of the fall semester with information about how the test will be administered.

(Please note: If you are entering the School of Music to pursue a Performer’s Certificate, you do not need to take the theory diagnostic test. However, if you are interested in taking music theory courses as part of your program of study, you should contact Dr. Gosden.)

Written Test

The written test covers the following skills/concepts:

  • figured bass and part writing
  • harmonic analysis
  • non-chord tones and melodic figuration
  • cadences
  • 20th-century scales

Aural Test

For the aural test, you will be asked to identify intervals, triads, and seventh chords by ear, and you will be asked to sing melodies (in major and minor keys) and clap rhythms at sight.


To prepare for the aural test, you may wish to utilize some of the exercises on the following website:

Below you will find some materials to help you prepare for the written test.

Graduate Theory Diagnostic Test – Review

Graduate Theory Diagnostic Test – Review (Answer Key)

Cadences (Definitions)