Undergraduate Music Placement Exams

All theory and musicianship placement exams will take place online for Fall 2020. Written exams will be available on MyCourses beginning July 15 and must be completed by August 1,2020. Late fees of $50 per exam (to a maximum of $200) will be incurred by those who fail to complete the exams by August 1.

Accessing MyCourses

MyCourses is a Learning Management System at McGill. Course syllabi and content for most courses are posted in this platform. Please note that you will only be able to access the placement tests for theory and musicianship on MyCourses between July 15 and August 1.

Ready to take the placement tests? Click here to access MyCourses.

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

Placement exam results

Placement exam results will not appear on your McGill transcripts. The results are used for course assignments. Credit will be given for courses for which an exemption is granted and will count towards the total number of credits required for the program.

For B.Mus. and L.Mus. students, after results are compiled, you will find out if you are exempted from one or more course(s) on your Online Program Audit (OPA) by mid-August.

For students from faculties outside of the Schulich School of Music, we will email you the results (pass/fail) to your McGill email account by mid-August. You must complete the diagnostic and placement exams by August 1st.

Placement Exam information by program

BMus, LMus (except Jazz streams)

All new students in BMus or LMus (except Jazz streams) must take the following mandatory diagnostic exams regardless of previous college or university courses and credits:

  • MUTH 100
  • MUSP questionnaire

The exams and questionnaire can be found on MyCourses and must be completed by August 1, 2020.

If you have indicated on the MUSP questionnaire that you would like to take the placement test and seek advanced standing for musicianship (MUSP 140, 141), including keyboard (MUSP 170, 171), you will receive a zoom interview invitation by Aug. 2nd. The results of the interview will be added to your online program audit (OPA) before mid-August.

All new students from out-of-province are placed in the following freshman/prerequisite courses. Aside from MUTH 100, Quebec students with CEGEP and University transfer students may be given advanced standing for prerequisite courses by taking optional placement exams.

  1. History MUHL 186
  2. Theory MUTH 100*/150/151,
    *All new students, including Quebec students coming from CEGEP and transfer students, must take a placement test for MUTH 100.
  3. Musicianship MUSP 140/141,
  4. Keyboard Proficiency MUSP 170/171**
    **Note: Harpsichord, organ and piano students are exempt from MUSP 170 and 171.


Those students who have previous CEGEP or post-secondary courses in Western Musical Traditions, or passed RCM Level 10 History exam, will be given advanced standing for MUHL 186 (determined by transcript record.)

2. THEORY (MUTH 100/150/151)

MUTH 100 Music Theory Fundamentals, is MANDATORY and must be completed before August 1, 2020. Those who wish to place out of freshman/prerequisite MUTH Theory courses and proceed to the next level may take Optional placement exams for MUTH 150/151. Detailed exam information:

MUTH 100 Music Theory Fundamentals (Mandatory)
All new students should have mastered the following concepts before arriving at the Schulich School of Music:

  • Reading treble and bass clefs
  • Intervals (all qualities, identifying and constructing)
  • Key signatures (major and minor)
  • Scales (major and all forms of minor)
  • Scale degree (tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc.)
  • Triads and seventh chords (all qualities and inversions)

To prepare, it is recommended to visit websites such as MusicTheory.net or Teoria.com for tutorials and drills.

Students wishing to have advanced standing and be exempted from prerequisite courses may do the following OPTIONAL exams by August 1:

MUTH 150 Music Theory and Analysis 1 (Optional)
Content includes all of the above for MUTH 100, plus

  • Resolution of dominant and diminished seventh chords
  • Principles of four-part writing in keyboard and chorale styles
  • Harmonic analysis with Roman numerals and figured bass
  • Labeling nonharmonic tones (passing, neighbor, suspension, anticipation, echappée, incomplete neighbor)
  • Labeling cadence types (PAC, IAC, HC, DC)

To prepare, you may consult any standard undergraduate music theory textbook, such as The Musicians’ Guide to Theory and Analysis (Marvin/Clendenning), The Complete Musician (Laitz) or Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Burstein/Straus).

MUTH 151 Music Theory and Analysis 2 (Optional)
Content includes all of the above, plus

  • Analysis and classification of sequences
  • Modulation and tonicization (secondary dominants)
  • Standard chromatic harmonies (augmented sixths, Neapolitan sixths)
  • Types of 6/4 chords (neighbour, cadential, passing, arpeggiating)

To prepare, you may consult any standard undergraduate music theory textbook, such as The Musicians’ Guide to Theory and Analysis (Marvin/Clendenning), The Complete Musician (Laitz) or Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Burstein/Straus).


All students must complete the MANDATORY Musicianship Questionnaire (available July 15 on myCourses) by August 1st. If you answer “yes” (that you wish to seek exemption from MUSP 140/ 141), you will be contacted for an interview for advanced placement over Zoom. If you answer “no,” you must register for MUSP 140.

The Optional Musicianship Interview consists of:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Harpsichord, organ and piano majors are automatically exempt from MUSP 170 and 171.

All other students must answer the mandatory MUSP Questionnaire (available July 15 on myCourses) by August 1. Students who answer “yes” (who wish to seek exemption from MUSP 170 and 171) will be contacted for an interview over Zoom for advanced placement in Keyboard Proficiency. (Whenever possible, students seeking exemption should do the video interview at their own keyboards. However, all students seeking exemption must do the interview, even if they do not have a keyboard.) If you answer “no,” you must register for MUSP 170.

For exemption from MUSP 170 you must be able to:

  • 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).

For exemption from MUSP 171 you must be able to:

  • 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 playing a similar progression from figured bass
  • Read a simple score in more than two staves using treble, bass and alto clefs.

BMus, LMus Jazz Performance and BMus Faculty Program (Jazz)

All incoming B.Mus and L.Mus Jazz Performance students and B.Mus Faculty Program (Jazz) can seek advanced standing for first year core jazz courses by completing a Jazz Placement Exam interview to be held remotely by Zoom. This placement test is optional. The interview will be approximately 10 minutes and will cover placement in Jazz Materials, Jazz Ear Training, and Jazz Keyboard Proficiency. Students will have to sign up for an interview time and day according to the published schedule.

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:

  1. Jazz Materials MUJZ 160/161
  2. Jazz Keyboard Proficiency MUJZ 170/171 (Note: Jazz guitar and jazz piano students are automatically exempt from MUJZ 170 and MUJZ 171)
  3. Jazz Ear Training MUSP 123/124
  4. Jazz History MUJZ 187

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

There is no placement exam for MUJZ 187 Jazz History. Students will be exempt from MUJZ 187 if they have successfully completed an equivalent course from Cegep and college/university.

Placement Test Format:

Each placement test takes between 10 and 15 minutes. It will be conducted by individual interview via zoom. You are required to have both audio and video functions for this placement test.

Preparation for placement test:

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

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.

For placement in Jazz keyboard proficiency, MUJZ 170-171: Your keyboard skills will be assessed according to both your prior experience on piano and your ability to identify chord voicings as presented to you on a keyboard during the interview. Those who have a keyboard at home should try to do the interview in the same room, so that we can hear you play. But a keyboard will not be absolutely necessary for this part of the placement test

How to Sign Up:

Log into McGill 365 with your McGill username and password. Find an excel file located in One Drive labelled “Jazz Placement Exams Sign-In Sheet”.

Insert your full legal name on the spreadsheet. You may sign up for ONE 15-minute time slot ONLY.

Once you sign up, a member from the Jazz Area will contact you to confirm the Zoom ID for your placement test.


You can choose to take the placement test on Monday, July 20 or Tuesday, July 21. You will indicate on the Sign-In Sheet in the excel file located in One Drive the time and date you wish to take the placement test. You must add your name to the sign-in sheet before 5 pm on Friday, July 17.

There is no late placement test for MUJZ subjects.

Placement Test Results:

The placement test results will be recorded on a personalized online program audit (OPA) which you will receive before mid-August. Students receiving advanced standing will also have the exemption credits recorded on the McGill transcripts which is accessible in Minerva.

Students from other faculties (major or minor in Music)

Students in the B.A./B.Sc. or other degree program from other faculties who wish to add a music major or minor to their degree must complete the MANDATORY placement exams for MUTH 100 and Musicianship Questionnaire by August 1, 2020. Students must carefully read the following guidelines before taking the placement exam(s). You will take these placement exams on MyCourses between July 15 and August 1, 2020.

  1. Verify with your Faculty Advisor that you are permitted to add a music minor or music major to your program.
  2. If yes, meet with dino.dutz [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Dino Dutz) at the Schulich School of Music to discuss whether this is the right program for you.
  3. If yes, you may be required to add the minor or major to your program before registering for placement exams.

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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