Undergraduate Music Placement Exams

Below you will find placement exam requirements, schedules, descriptions and samples for new and transfer students. You can also download a PDF version of this page (updated with new exam locations on August 25, 2017): PDF icon undergraduate_placement_exam_info_2017_august.pdf

  • Placement exams are diagnostic and may place you in a higher level. There is no disadvantage to taking them.
  • If you do not take them, you must register in 100-level courses.
  • Late exams: If you can't take the exams on the scheduled dates, you can take them on Sept. 7 and 8, 2017. You will be charged a $50 late fine per exam, up to $200. Email research.music [at] mcgill.ca to explain why you can't attend and get a late exam schedule. Provide your name, contact information and the relevant course numbers. Once we receive your email, we will give you a precise schedule/location for your late placement exam.

If you have questions, contact the Department of Music Research (research.music [at] mcgill.ca, 514-398-4540).

Exam Requirements and Schedule

All exams take place in Strathcona Music Building (555 Sherbrooke St. West). See below for the schedule.

  • Bring your McGill ID number and photo ID to the exam.
  • Arrive at the exam room at least 5 minutes early.

B.A., B.Mus. and L.Mus. placement exams and schedule (all except Jazz)

  • MUHL 186 exemption: You are automatically exempted from MUHL 186 if you have completed a college or university level course on the history of Western music with at least a C grade.
  • Aside from MUHL 186, you are required to take the placement exams below even if you have successfully completed similar courses such as theory or musicianship from CEGEP, music conservatory, college or another university.
  • L.Mus. exemption from all placement exams: If you have completed a Bachelor of Music degree (or equivalent recognized by McGill) within the last 3 years, you do not need to take placement exams and you will be exempted from Theory, Musicianship, Music History, Literature or Performance Practice electives. If you qualify, you can still sit the exams but you will not be bound by recommendations made based on your results. If you have difficulties later in a class, the Department Chair can, upon the advice of the instructor, counsel you to take studies at a lower level.
  • B.A. Major or Minor students: You can take these exams if you want to qualify for advanced standing.
  B.Mus. & L.Mus. Exam Date Location
Placement Exam for: Required? August 28, 2017 August 30, 2017 Room
MUTH 150/151 (Theory and Analysis 1 & 2)

Yes

9:00-11:00am

  C-201
MUHL 186 (Western Musical Traditions) Optional. See exemption note above.   9:00am-12:00pm C-204
MUTH 250 (Theory and Analysis 3) Optional 11:30am-12:30pm   C-201
MUSP 170/171 (Musicianship / keyboard 1 & 2)

Yes

Pianists, organists and harpsichordists: You are exempt from MUSP 170. However, you must take the MUSP 171 placement exam if you want an exemption from that course.

Individual Exams

11:30am-1:30pm

5:00-6:30pm

Individual Exams

12:30-5:30pm

C-210 (revised location). Sign up for individual exams on the bulletin board next to C-210 as of August 24th.
Rudiments/MUSP 140/141 (Musicianship Training 1 & 2)

Yes

2:00-4:00pm   C-201
MUSP 240/241 (Musicianship Training 3 & 4) Optional 4:00-5:00pm   C-201

Jazz B.Mus. and L.Mus. placement exams and schedule

  B.Mus. & L.Mus. Exam Date Location
Placement Exam for: Required? August 28, 2017 August 30, 2017 Room
MUTH 150/151 (Theory and Analysis 1 & 2)

Yes, for Faculty Jazz Program only

9:00-11:00am

  C-201
MUJZ 187 Optional. Take the placement exam if you want to be exempted from this course, even if you've completed a jazz history course at a college/university.  

4:30-6:30pm

C-201

MUJZ 160/161 (Jazz Materials 1 & 2)

Yes

  10:00-11:30am

C-201

MUJZ 170/171 (Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 1 & 2)

Yes.

Jazz guitarists and jazz pianists are exempt.

  11:30am-12:30pm

C-201

MUSP 123/124 (Jazz Ear Training 1 & 2)

Yes

  2:00-4:00pm

C-201

 

Placement Exam Descriptions

Jazz Materials 1 and 2 - MUJZ 160/161

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 160/161.

For the placement exam, you should be able to:

  • Identify chord-scale relationships for all chord categories and spell them.
  • Identify given scales and chords.
  • Spell given scales and chords.
  • Analyse standard jazz progressions and suggest scale relationships for improvisation.
  • Voice chords in both root position and block style.
  • Harmonize a melodic passage in close-position block style.

Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 1 - MUJZ 170

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 170. Jazz guitarists and jazz pianists are exempt from this course.

You should be able to play basic scales including 12 keys of Major mode and Harmonic minor scale with right fingering. There are also 3 basic jazz voicings including 2 notes and 4 notes shell voicings in 12 keys. You are expected to use these voicings to be able to comp on some of the basic standards. (e.g." Joy Spring", "All the things you are", etc.) Students who have been admitted to the program with jazz guitar or jazz piano as their principal instrument are exempt from MUJZ 170, and are therefore not required to sit this placement exam.

Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 1 - MUJZ 171

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 170. Jazz guitarists and jazz pianists are exempt from this course.

You will be tested on Melodic Minor mode as well as Diminished scales (both half whole and whole half) in 12 keys.

There will be 4 different types of voicings to be learned including broken II V I rootless comping voicings in both major and minor, So What voicing, Upper Structure both Major and Minor triad and diminished ascending passing chords. You should be able to comp using all these voicings on some of the jazz standards tunes. Students who have been admitted to the program with jazz guitar or jazz piano as their principal instrument are exempt from MUJZ 171, and are therefore not required to sit this placement exam.

Jazz History Survey - MUJZ 187

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 187.

This test consists of recorded examples and corresponding questions relating to identifying the instrumental or vocal performing artist, the style of jazz, or the era or time period associated with the style.

Jazz Ear Training - MUSP 123/124

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUSP 123/124.

Content includes intervals, triads (all inversions and types), seventh chords, common harmonic progressions, scales, as well as melodic and rhythmic dictation.

Rudiments/MUSP 140/141 (includes exam samples)

This exam determines placement in/exemption from MUSP 140, MUSP 141, and MUTH 100 (Music Theory Fundamentals). Topics include: 

  • Part 1: Rudiments (interval writing and identification, key signatures, relative major/minor keys, scales including harmonic and melodic minor, scale degrees, and writing triads in various inversions).
  • Part 2: Dictation (harmonic/melodic intervals, triads and seventh chords, rhythms, tonal melodic structures, harmonic progressions, and atonal cells). You may be required to undergo additional assessment in dictation and solfège (sight singing) in order to refine your placement level. 

Exam samples: Rudiments/MUSP 140/141, Part 1: Rudiments

Theory Rudiments Sample Placement Exam.pdf | Answer Key.pdf
Recommended materials for review (written theory rudiments): www.teoria.com, www.musictheory.net, Musition, MacGAMUT, or the Eastman School of Music’s eTheory course. Topics for review include interval writing and identification, key signatures, relative major/minor keys, scales including harmonic and melodic minor, scale degrees, and writing triads in various inversions.

Exam samples: Rudiments/MUSP 140/141, Part 2: Dictation

Dictation Sample Placement Exam.pdf
In addition to the written theory rudiments tested in the placement exam, basic musicianship skills  are also considered when determining student placement. Basic musicianship proficiency includes aural identification of intervals and chords (by type and inversion), as well as rhythmic and melodic dictation. The self-diagnostic quiz posted below may help you identify areas to work on over the summer. It is recommended that you take the quiz in a quiet place with good-quality speakers or headphones.

Basic Musicianship Self-diagnostic Quiz.pdf | Answer Key.pdf

Audio files: 1a | 1b | 1c | 1d | 1e | 1f | 1g | 1h | 1i | 1j | 2a | 2b | 2c | 2d | 2e | 2f | 3a | 3b | 3c | 3d | 4a | 4b | 5a | 5b

Recommended materials for review: Self study with www.teoria.com, commercial musicianship software (EarMaster, Practica Musica, Auralia, or MacGamut), standard musicianship textbooks (Ottman, Music for Sight Singing; Berkowitz, A New Approach to Sight Singing; Karpinsky, Anthology for Sight Singing; Phillips/Clendenning/Marvin, The Musician’s Guide to Aural Skills; Lavignac, Solfège des solfèges), or McGill Conservatory summer courses. Review aural recognition of intervals (including compound intervals), chord quality (triads and seventh chords), dictation (rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic), simple atonal structures, and sight-singing.

MUSP 240/241

Advanced students may wish to take the MUSP 240/241 placement exam which occurs immediately following completion of the Rudiments/MUSP 140/141 examination.

Musicianship/Keyboard 1 ‐ MUSP 170

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUSP 170.

  • If you do not pass this test, or do not take the test, you must enroll in MUSP 170 in your first semester.
  • If keyboard (piano, organ, harpsichord) is your principal instrument, you are exempt from this course.
  • Jazz Performance and Jazz Faculty Program majors: Take the MUJZ 170 placement exam instead of this one.

Exam playing requirements (all the following are in keys with no more than 4 sharps or 4 flats):

  1. Sight reading a simple two-part piece using treble, bass, and some alto clef; good accuracy and consistent tempo.
  2. Technique and keyboard rudiments (scales, triads, and arpeggios, through 2 octaves with hands together; fluent recognition and playing of triads, dominant and diminished seventh chords, in root position.
  3. For students with previous piano study, performance of a prepared piece from their own repertoire (contrapuntal texture in two or three parts, or simple homophonic texture; level equivalent to McGill Conservatory Secondary III or Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 4).

Musicianship/Keyboard 2 ‐ MUSP 171

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUSP 171.

Exam playing requirements:

  1. Keyboard harmony (all major or minor keys to four sharps or flats), with basic harmonic progressions (e.g., I–IV–V–I, I–ii6–V2–I6); resolution of dominant seventh chords in all inversions; realization of elementary figured bass using the above vocabulary; harmonization of simple melodies.
  2. Elementary score reading in more than two staves: use of treble, bass, and alto clefs (e.g., string quartet scores); transposition of a simple two-part composition (non-keyboard players) or of a simple song accompaniment (keyboard players) up or down a tone.

Western Musical Traditions ‐ MUHL 186

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUHL 186.

  • 100 multiple choice questions, including questions on listening excerpts.
  • Prepare for the exam by reading Kerman’s Listen, Grout/Palisca/Burkholder’s A History of Western Music, or the equivalent, and learning to identify the style of major genres from each historical period.

Theory and Analysis 1 ‐ MUTH 150 (includes exam samples)

This test (along with the Rudiments/MUSP 140/141 test) determines exemption from MUTH 150 and MUTH 100 (Music Theory Fundamentals).

Content includes:

  • Seventh chords in all inversions and types.
  • Resolution of dominant and diminished seventh chords.
  • Writing simple harmonic progressions in four parts.
  • Harmonic analysis with Roman numerals and figured bass.
  • Labeling nonharmonic tones (passing, neighbor, suspension, anticipation, echappée, incomplete neighbor) and cadence types (PAC, IAC, HC, DC).

Exam samples: Theory and Analysis 1 (MUTH 150)

MUTH 150 Sample Placement Exam.pdf | Answer Key.pdf
Recommended materials for review: Any standard music theory textbook (Laitz, The Complete Musician; Aldwell/Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading; Marvin/Clendinning, The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis). Review seventh chords in all inversions and types, resolution of dominant and diminished seventh chords, writing simple harmonic progressions in four parts, harmonic analysis with Roman numerals and figured bass, and labeling non-harmonic tones and cadence types.

Theory and Analysis 2 ‐ MUTH 151 (includes exam samples)

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUTH 151.

Content includes:

  • Harmonic analysis with advanced Roman numerals and figured bass (secondary dominants, diminished sevenths, and Neapolitan and augmented sixth chords).
  • Chromaticism.
  • Labeling non‐harmonic tones and cadence types (PAC, IAC, HC, DC, plagal, and Phrygian).
  • Realizing a figured bass in four‐part chorale style.
  • Harmonization of a chorale melody including a modulation (with an analysis of cadences, pivot chords, Roman numerals and figured bass).

Exam samples: Theory and Analysis 2 (MUTH 151)

MUTH 150 Sample Placement Exam.pdf | Answer Key.pdf
Recommended materials for review: Any standard music theory textbook (Laitz, The Complete Musician; Aldwell/Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading; Marvin/Clendinning, The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis). Review harmonic analysis with Roman numerals and figured bass, chromaticism, labeling non-harmonic tones and cadence types, realizing a figured bass in chorale style, and harmonization of a chorale melody.

Theory and Analysis 3 ‐ MUTH 250

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUTH 250.

It involves analysis of a first movement from a classical sonata including questions about:

  • Large formal design.
  • Phrase structure.
  • Thematic‐motivic organization.
  • Harmonic analysis of selected passages.