Undergraduate Music Placement Exams

Depending on your program and the courses you plan to register for in your first year, there are both mandatory and optional placement tests that are offered online between June 10 - July 5, 2024.

Placement exams are for newly admitted students and should be done prior to the first year of studies. Requests for exemptions after the placement examination period will be refused, or in special cases if granted, subject to a late fee of $50 per exam.

Who writes which exam?

Program Category:

(1) For students who are admitted to B.Mus. Performance Orchestral Instruments, B.Mus. Piano Performance, B.Mus. Performance Guitar/Organ, B.Mus. Voice Performance, B.Mus. Early Music, B.Mus. Faculty, B.Mus. Faculty Jazz, B.Mus. Composition, B.Mus. History, B.Mus. Theory, concurrent B.Mus./B.Ed. and L.Mus. except Jazz.

(2) For students who are admitted to B.Mus. Jazz Performance and L.Mus. Jazz.

(3) For students who are admitted to B.Mus. Faculty – Jazz concentration

Written Placement Exams Available on MyCourses Zoom Individual Interviews

Music Theory Fundamentals (1), (3)
MUTH 150 (1), (3)

MUTH 151 (1), (3)
MUJZ 160 (2), (3)
MUJZ 161 (2), (3)
MUJZ 170 (2), (3)
MUJZ 171 (2), (3)
MUSP 123 (2), (3)
MUSP 124 (2), (3)

MUSP 140 (1)
MUSP 141 (1)
MUSP 240 (1)
MUSP 241 (1)
MUSP 170 (1)
MUSP 171 (1)

Placement Exam Dates

Theory (MUTH) and Jazz (MUJZ) placement exams take place between June 10 and  July 5, 2024

Musicianship and keyboard proficiency (MUSP) placement exams take place in throughout the month of June 2024.

Types of Placement Exams


Theory placement exams are mandatory whereas all others are optional. Students who will take core theory courses (e.g., MUTH 150, MUTH 151, MUTH 250, MUTH 251 and MUTH 350) must take theory placement tests to determine which theory course they can register for in their first year.

There are three theory placement tests:

  • Music Theory Fundamentals (mandatory)
  • MUTH 150 (mandatory)
  • MUTH 151 (optional)

All students must take the Music Theory Fundamentals and MUTH 150 tests. Students have the option to take the MUTH 151 placement test if they wish to be exempt from this course.
Written exams for Theory (Music Theory Fundamentals, MUTH 150 & 151), will be administered remotely using MyCourses, McGill’s online learning management system.

Musicianship & Keyboard Proficiency

Musicianship and keyboard placement tests are optional. Only register for these if you wish to seek exemption from MUSP 140, MUSP 141, MUSP 170*, MUSP 171*, MUSP 240 or MUSP 241. You are welcome to sign up for the Musicianship placement test even if you have not previously taken a course in aural skills. Students with basic sight-reading ability may possibly be exempt from at least one course.
*See Placement Exams Information by Program below to determine if you may qualify for automatic exemptions from keyboard proficiency (MUSP 170 & MUSP 171).


Placement exams for jazz materials (MUJZ 160/161) and jazz ear-training (MUSP 123/124) are optional. Written exams for Jazz Materials (MUJZ 160 & 161) and Jazz Ear-Training (MUSP 123 & 124) will be administered remotely using MyCourses, McGill’s online learning management system.

There are no placement exams for jazz keyboard proficiency (MUJZ 170 & 171) during the summer. Students who wish to be exempt from MUJZ 170 & 171 will be assessed in the classroom on the first day of class for MUJZ 170.

Jazz guitar and jazz piano students are exempt from MUJZ 170 & 171 and therefore not required to take the placement exam.

Students are not required to first register in MUJZ 170 before taking the jazz keyboard proficiency in-class assessment. There are two sections of MUJZ 170 in the fall. Students can present in either section on the first day of class to receive the assessment. Your keyboard skills will be assessed according to both your prior experience in piano and your ability to identify chord voicings as presented to you on a keyboard during the interview. Those who are not assessed on the first day of class must register for MUJZ 170 & 171 in the first year.


There are no placement exams for Western Musical Traditions (MUHL 186) or Jazz History Survey (MUJZ 187). Students will be exempt from either course if they have successfully completed equivalent history courses from a CEGEP, music conservatory, college, university, or by passing an RCM History exam. See Transfer Credits FAQ for detail.

Register for Placement Exams

No sign-ups are required for theory and jazz placement exams.

You can only access MyCourses to take the following placement exams between June 10 and July 5, 2024.

The deadline to complete these placement exams is 11:59 pm on Wednesday, July 5, 2024.

Under “Ongoing courses”, select “Theory Placement Exams”” > “Quizzes” to access the theory placement exams.

  • Music Theory Fundamentals
  • Music Theory and Analysis 1 (MUTH 150)
  • Music Theory and Analysis 2 (MUTH 151)

Under “Ongoing courses”, select “Jazz Placement Test” and then “Quizzes” to access the placement exams.

  • Jazz Materials 1 (MUJZ 160)
  • Jazz Materials 2 (MUJZ 161)
  • Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 1 (MUJZ 170)
  • Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 2 (MUJZ 171)
  • Jazz Ear Training 1 (MUSP 123)
  • Jazz Ear Training 2 (MUSP 124)

Ready to take the placement tests? Access MyCourses here.

If you are unable to access the placement tests on MyCourses, email studentaffairs.music [at] mcgill.ca.

Placement exams in Musicianship and Keyboard take place in individual five-minute Zoom interviews in June.

  • Musicianship Training 1 (MUSP 140
    Musicianship Training 2 (MUSP 141)
  • Musicianship Training 3 (MUSP 240)
  • Musicianship Training 4 (MUSP 241)
  • Musicianship Keyboard 1 (MUSP 170)
  • Musicianship Keyboard 2 (MUSP 171)

Students can sign up for musicianship and keyboard placement exams between May 21 and June 9, 2024, using the link below.

Sign up for an interview now.

Once you sign up, you will receive an invitation to a Zoom meeting via your McGill email address.

Placement exam information by program

The information in this section is divided into two program streams:

B.Mus. and L.Mus. (except Jazz streams)

All new students in B.Mus. or L.Mus. (except Jazz streams), regardless of previous college or university courses and credits, must take the mandatory placement tests in theory (MUTH) before taking any theory courses. Musicianship (MUSP) placement tests are optional. Students who choose not to take musicianship placement tests will begin with MUSP 140 and 141 in their first year.

All new students from out-of-province are placed in the following freshman/prerequisite courses. Students arriving from music programs in CEGEP, or from other university music programs, may choose to seek advanced standing by taking the placement exams to test out of the required courses, MUTH 150 (mandatory) and 151 (optional).

Placement tests available include:

  1. Music Theory Fundamentals, MUTH 150/151
  2. Musicianship MUSP 140/141/240/241
  3. Keyboard Proficiency MUSP 170/171*

*B.Mus. and L.Mus. students whose main instrument of study at McGill is piano, organ, or harpsichord are automatically exempt from MUSP 170 and 171. Lute players may request to use any Continuo course (MUPG 272D, MUPG 372D, or MUPG 670) as equivalent to both MUSP 170 and MUSP 171 once they complete the Continuo course.


Students wishing to have advanced standing and be exempt from prerequisite courses may do the following exams in theory and musicianship by July 5, 2024:


There are three theory placement tests: Music Theory Fundamentals, MUTH 150, and MUTH 151. Students can prepare for these tests by studying the free open-access music-theory textbook Open Music Theory (v. 2), available at https://viva.pressbooks.pub/openmusictheory/, or a standard undergraduate music-theory textbook, such as A Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony by Burstein and Straus. Practice exercises are available on the website https://www.teoria.com/.

Music Theory Fundamentals All students must take the music fundamentals test, which covers intervals, keys (including relative major and minor), scales and scale degrees, and triads and seventh chords. Students who do not score 80% or more are strongly advised to enroll in MUAR 201 Basic Materials: Western Music.

MUTH 150: Music Theory and Analysis 1
All students must take the MUTH 150 test, which covers basic harmonic analysis, including identifying keys, chords (Roman numerals and figured bass), nonharmonic tones (passing, neighbor, suspension, anticipation), and cadences (PAC, IAC, HC, DC), as well as basic voice leading, including resolving dominant and diminished 7th chords. The lowest passing grade for this placement exam is 75%.

MUTH 151: Music Theory and Analysis 2 Students who wish to be exempt from MUTH 151 may take that test, which is not required. The MUTH 151 exam covers harmonic sequences, types of 6/4 chords (cadential, passing, neighbouring, arpeggiating), applied harmonies (secondary dominants) and other chromatic chords (Neapolitan and augmented 6th chords), and modulation. The lowest passing grade for this placement exam is 80%.

  1. MUSICIANSHIP (MUSP 140/141/240/241)

A. First Interview. This will determine possible exemption from Musicianship Training MUSP 140/141. You sight-sing (with or without solfège) a melody that appears on the screen and identify intervals and triads by quality (e.g., major, minor, diminished, augmented) and inversion (e.g., 6/3 or first inversion, etc.). If you succeed in these tasks, you will be asked to take a second interview. If you qualify for a second interview, you will receive notification via your McGill email address shortly after your first interview.

B. Second Interview. This will determine possible exemption from Musicianship Training MUSP 240/241. You sight-sing atonal melodies and identify chromatic chords in a harmonic progression, including seventh chords, applied dominants, augmented sixths, and modal mixture, by quality and inversion.


  • Sight read a short example in two parts.
  • Transpose a simple melody at sight.
  • Construct chords at the keyboard (root position and inverted triads and 7th chords).
  • Resolve dominant and diminished 7th chords in 4 voices.
  • Play progressions from chord symbols (for example, I–V6/ii–ii–V6–I) in keys with up to 4 sharps or flats or play a similar progression from figured bass.
  • Read a simple score in more than two staves using treble, bass and alto clefs.


B.Mus., L.Mus. Jazz Performance and B.Mus. Faculty Program (Jazz)

All incoming B.Mus. Jazz Performance, B.Mus. Faculty Program (Jazz) and L.Mus. Jazz Performance students can seek advanced standing for first year core jazz courses (MUJZ 160, 161 and MUSP 123, 124) by completing a Jazz Placement Exam on MyCourses. This placement test is optional.

If you do not wish to take the placement test, you are expected to register for the 100-level MUJZ core courses as shown in the sample first year course plan for your program.

By default, all new students are placed in the following prerequisite courses:

  • Jazz Materials MUJZ 160/161
  • Jazz Keyboard Proficiency MUJZ 170/171
    Jazz guitar and jazz piano students are automatically exempt from MUJZ 170 and MUJZ 171.
  • Jazz Ear Training MUSP 123/124

Note: Students in B.Mus. Faculty Jazz have the option to take MUTH 150 & 151 placement tests alongside the jazz ones in the first year or wait until the second summer to take the theory placement tests. Detailed info about the MUTH placement tests can be found under Placement Exam information by program for B.Mus., L.Mus. (except Jazz stream).

  • The level (and section assignment) for each prerequisite course will be determined by the results of the interview.

Preparation for Placement Test:

For placement in Jazz Materials MUJZ 160-161: You will be tested orally on your knowledge of scales, voicings and chord-scale relationships.

For placement in Jazz Keyboard Proficiency MUJZ 170-171:You will be tested on basic piano skills using standard jazz repertoire.

For placement in Jazz Ear Training MUJZ 123-124: You will be asked to identify chords, sing various scales by ear and sight-sing a short passage.

Placement exam results

Placement exam scores are intended for the faculty’s internal reference to assess for course exemptions. Therefore, the score from the placement exams will not be reported on your transcript.

B.Mus. and L.Mus. Students will only receive credits for the courses from which they are exempt. These credits will be counted towards your total credits.
The course exemption notations will be added to your Program Audit (PA) by late July.

Now that I have the placement exam results, which MUTH, MUSP or MUJZ courses should I register for?

Depending on your program, and which placement tests you passed, see the PDF icon Course Options based on Placement Exam Results_2024 document to determine which core courses you may register for in the first year.


Contact the studentaffairs.music [at] mcgill.ca (Music Student Affairs Office) if you receive a program or prerequisite restriction on Minerva when trying to add the music course(s) after receiving your placement exam results, or if you are inquiring about late placement exams. 

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