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Important Updates

  • AP Music Theory Exams must be administered in school. There isn’t a digital at-home testing option for this exam.
  • Determine ahead of time if you’ll need to take any particular precautions with the recording equipment to adhere to your local health and safety protocols. For instance, if recording equipment will be used by multiple students, consider how the equipment can be sanitized between uses.
  • This year, the requirement for devices is that they be school owned and controlled. Because many schools are using a blended learning model this year, in which students need to take their devices home with them, devices that have left the school and/or have been assigned to students may be used for testing if necessary.
  • Due to the coronavirus, schools may need to consider additional aspects of the sight singing administration for the AP Music Theory Exam. We support schools that may want to take steps to minimize contact between the student and the proctor during the sight singing part of the exam. Review details in the AP Coordinator’s Manual, Part 2.
  • In 2021, a version of the Digital Audio Capture (DAC) app for Chromebook will be available as a recording option for the AP Music Theory Exam. More information will be posted on the AP DAC page when it’s available.

This page provides an overview about the AP Music Theory Exam. For full details, review the “AP Music Theory Exam” section in the AP Coordinator’s Manual, Part 2.

  • All student audio responses for the AP Music Theory Exam must be submitted through the Digital Audio Submission (DAS) portal to be scored. Visit Submitting Audio for more information about the DAS portal.
  • The Digital Audio Capture (DAC) app is an additional recording option available for the AP French, German, Italian, and Spanish Language and Culture Exams.  DAC app is available for iPads and Chromebooks. The 2021 DAC app will be available for download in March from the Apple App Store and the Chrome Web Store. Schools that use the DAC app must use the 2021 version of the app. (Files recorded using previous versions of the DAC app will not be accepted by the DAS portal.)
  • For more information, please see the AP Digital Audio Capture (DAC) App Overview for Chromebook or the AP Digital Audio Capture (DAC) App Overview for iPad.

Ordering Exams

You’ll order the AP Music Theory Exam through AP Registration and Ordering. For more information about ordering AP Exams, go to Ordering Exam Materials.

Ordering Master CDs

Each AP Music Theory Exam order includes one set of master CDs (1 master listening CD and 1 master sight singing CD), regardless of the number of exams ordered.  If there will be multiple testing rooms for the AP Music Theory Exam, you’ll need to order a set of master CDs for each testing room. Order additional master CDs by March 12. Review the “Ordering Additional Master CDs” section in the AP Coordinator’s Manual, Part 1.  

When you submit your exam order, you may request:

  • 1 additional master writing/speaking CD set or sight singing CD for every 4 exams ordered
  • 1 additional master listening CD for every 10 exams ordered

You may add additional master CDs to your exam order until March 12, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET. After March 12, if you need to request additional master CDs, you must contact AP Services for Educators.

Exam Room Setup

Written Part: The music room or a regular classroom can be used for the written part of the exam. Students must be seated at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart and must face the same direction. 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 high-fidelity external speakers. Students must not listen to the music through headsets. If your school does not have an appropriate exam room, consider using another facility.

Sight Singing Part: The sight singing part of the exam 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 can both practice and perform without distraction and without being 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’re testing more than 10 students, it’s 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.

If it’s not possible to test all students in one day, contact AP Services for Educators before the exam administration for instructions.

Note: Sight singing responses are evaluated for accuracy of pitch and rhythm and steady tempo. Students need to clearly hear themselves sing, so they must be tested one at a time during this section of the exam and must not wear headsets or earbuds.

Necessary Equipment

  • CD player for each testing room: You will need a CD player with external high-fidelity speakers to play the master listening and sight singing CDs.
  • Recording devices/equipment: You will need a digital audio recording device or equipment to record student responses at each exam room. Acceptable recording methods in 2021 are:
    • Computers with MP3 recording software
    • Handheld digital recorder
    • Digital language lab (but only 1 student at a time during testing)
    • Digital Audio Capture (DAC) app running on Apple iPad tablets or Chromebooks

Visit Recording Audio for information on recording options.

Submitting Audio Files

All students’ recorded speaking response files must be submitted online through the Digital Audio Submission (DAS) portal. Visit the Submitting Audio page for information on how to submit student responses. The DAS portal will be available in early April 2020 for AP coordinators and school staff to create accounts.

Important: Only audio responses submitted through the DAS portal will be scored.

Exam Preparation

Take these steps to prepare for the recording portion of the AP Music Theory Exam:

  • New! Review the “AP Music Theory” section in the AP Coordinator’s Manual, Part 2 for aspects to consider this year when planning for the administration of the sight singing part of this exam.
  • Determine the digital recording technology that students will use to record their responses (in MP3 format) for the sight singing portion of the exams.
  • Hold several practice recording sessions so that you, teachers, proctors, students, and your school's technical staff (if applicable) gain a full understanding of the process.
  • Encourage AP teachers to give students time to practice recording responses using the method that will be used on exam day.
  • Make sure that students have the opportunity to practice with released free-response questions and short-answer questions in the course and exam descriptions and the teacher-accessible practice exams through AP Classroom.
  • Have proctors practice saving and naming MP3 files before the exam administration. If your school is using the DAC app for recording, the app directly names and saves the files with the student’s AP ID. Learn more about the DAC app.
    • Give proctors a way to cross-reference students' AP IDs to ensure that the proper AP ID is used when they name and save the MP3 files. (Applies only when recording with a digital language lab, computer, or handheld recording device.)
  • Remind proctors that they will need to check all students' MP3 files to make sure the files can be played and the audio level of each file is adequate.
  • 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.

Reference Materials

  • Refer to the AP Coordinator's Manual, Part 2 for full instructions and procedures for preparing for and administering the AP Music Theory Exam.
  • Refer to the AP Exam Instructions for exam administration proctor scripts, including scripts specific to each audio recording option. Schools may also download specific exam instructions or view specifications for recording audio.
  • Review AP Digital Audio Submission (DAS) Help, a step-by-step guide to using the DAS portal to upload and submit students' recorded responses.
  • If your school is planning to use the DAC app to record students' responses, check the DAC App page for the DAC App Overview, a guide to using the app.