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What are these tests?

These placement exams ensure that you are ready for graduate seminars. The deficiencies we are identifying result for a number of reasons. Some schools focus on different areas in the subject, and there may be some gaps in your knowledge. For example, some theory departments emphasize analysis over part-writing. It may be an issue of fluency – while you “know” the material, it has been a few years and you take a moment to recall it; you will learn much more in seminars with an increase in your speed. The issue may come from learning different notation conventions in your undergraduate program. Whatever the reason, the point of these tests (and the review courses) is to ensure that you benefit the most from your time at Peabody.

Who has to take the exams?

The requirements differ based on which degree program you are in.


You are required to take the Music History, the Ear Training, and the Music Theory placement exams.

Exception: If you are a Musicology major, you are exempt from the Music History exam. The requirement is satisfied by the Audition Week exam (“Music History Entrance Exam”).

Exception: If you applied for a Theory GA:

       If you passed the GADMA during Audition Week, you do not need to take the Music Theory exam.

       If you passed the Ear-Training Exam during Audition Week, you do not need to take the Ear-Training exam.

GPD, MA, or AD

You are not required to take either exam. If, however, you wish to take musicology classes, you must pass the Music History placement exam. If you wish to take music theory seminars, you must take the Music Theory exam.

If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, such as test results from Audition Week, please contact the test supervisor:

Music History – Dr. Richard Giarusso (

Music Theory – Dr. Stephen Stone (

Ear Training – Dr. Jenine Brown (

If I know I need the review class, may I skip the exam?

Yes. If you plan to take the review class, you do not need to take the placement exam. You will be notified that you did not pass the exam, and you will then be able to register for the online review course.

How can I study for the tests?

If you wish to review for the tests, here are some recommended textbooks and practice advice.

How do I access the exams?

The exams are hosted in Blackboard, JHU’s learning management system. To access them, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your JHU portal, through the Peabody webpage or through
  2. Under the “Education” tab, select Blackboard.
  3. Once in Blackboard, locate the “My Organizations” section.
  4. Select the test you want – “Graduate Review Theory Test” or “Music History Placement Test” – to enter the testing site.

How many times may I attempt the exams?

Exams are offered at the end of May and in the middle of August. Within a single testing period, you may take the exam only once. The exams are graded by hand, so the faculty grade them once the test closes.

You are welcome to retake the tests in later testing periods. For example, if you take an exam in May and do not pass, you may study on your own over the summer and retake the test during the August testing session. If you do not pass after the August testing, you will automatically be enrolled in the appropriate class. If you fail a review class, you may re-attempt its test during one of the testing periods the following year to satisfy the requirement.

Note that if you fail a review class, there are two important details to these retakes.

  1. Passing the test will not affect the grade from the class; the F will remain on the transcript. But it will keep you from having to take the class again.
  2. You only get one more try at the exams. It is best to take the test during the May testing period. If you do not pass, you should sign up for the summer review class. This will make it possible to graduate on time without doubling up on history or theory courses.

How do I find out if I passed the exams?

Official notification of your results will come in an email from Academic Affairs. It will arrive approximately a week and a half after the exam testing period ends.