Today’s post “Review of AP Music Theory: Exam Prep from Study.com” is a sponsored review post to help families learn how to use it for AP Music Theory Exam Prep. I was given access to Study.com for a limited time to test it out in exchange for my honest thoughts on the program.
Disclosure: I received access to Study.com in order to write this honest review. This post also includes affiliate links.
As many of you might know, I was a music major in college. I graduated with a degree in Music Education. My sister pursued a different path but also got a music minor. If you have a student who wants to major or minor in music, a basic course they must take is Music Theory 1. Did you know that if you have a high schooler, he or she can take an AP Music Theory course, then take the AP Music Theory Exam, and, depending on their score, get college credit for that course at a fraction of the cost it would be to take it in college? My son who is a senior in high school is actually doing that this year. But, the AP Music Theory exam is difficult, so it’s helpful to get some AP Music Theory Exam Prep. See below my review of AP Music Theory: Exam Prep premium edition from Study.com.
A lesson from the exam prep course:
What is Study.com?
Study.com is a website devoted to helping students of all ages learn and study for various subjects and types of exams. It is truly an amazing site. I have 3 high schoolers this year, and they are using it to prepare for CLEP, DSST, ACT, and AP exams this year. (See my review of Study.com’s CLEP Biology review course here.)
What does the AP Music Theory: Exam Prep course consist of?
The course for AP Music Theory Exam Prep contains fun and clever video lessons to guide you to “quickly strengthen your knowledge of important music theory concepts. Self-assessment quizzes help you practice answering the types of questions you’ll encounter on the AP test.”
Music Theory 1 in college is typically described (at least by students) as a “weed-out” class. If you don’t do well in it, you probably won’t remain a music major. It’s basic to everything a music student will do later on in performing, composing, or preparing to teach.
A Special Feature of the AP Music Theory Exam
Not only do you have to know how to WRITE the musical concepts correctly, similar to math, you have to be able to HEAR the musical concepts correctly.
Therefore, the video lessons help you learn how to do this! Some of the concepts covered are syncopation, duple meter, diminution, augmentation and accents in music, chromatic music, major and minor scales, modality, tetrachords, and key signature in music. Students will exhibit knowledge of harmony, pitch, sight-singing, syllabic music and major and minor keys They will learn to differentiate between simple and compound intervals, and discuss triads, seventh chords, intervals, and chord inversions. Furthermore, students will learn about chord families, figured-bass notation and realization, cadence and tonic in music, diatonic scale, and the rules for writing four-part music.
The AP Music Theory: Exam Prep Course Format
- 131 lessons divided into 14 chapters
- Multiple-choice quizzes you can at any time to assess your knowledge of key concepts
- Practice exams you can take to find out how well you grasp each chapter and the entire course
- 8-minute average lesson length
- Includes a practice AP Music Theory Exam
Example of a lesson:
My results from taking their final exam:
I love the format of the course. They made it easy for the course to work for you. You can skip around to see what you need, organize lessons into your own “custom course,” view certain parts (such as all tests) at a time, and go back and watch or read anything you want at any time.
Videos the AP Music Theory: Exam Prep Course
There are 131 lessons in this AP Music Theory Exam Prep course. Some are just to read, but the most helpful lessons have a video (usually less than 8 minutes long). The transcript of the video is posted as well. The videos are entertaining and fun! They include graphics to describe the concepts, as well as musical sounds. Sometimes, there are cartoons to help keep the student engaged. But, most importantly, the music theory concepts are being taught/reviewed in a way that the student will understand and remember.
This was a clever way to teach “sharps.” They used the “Jaws” movie theme song since it includes sharts and also said that the sharp looks like a Twitter hashtag.
Quizzes in the AP Music Theory: Exam Prep Course
After reading or watching the lesson, you take a short quiz, like this one below:
After the quiz, you find out what you missed, and it gives you the option to show you the correct answer. Clicking that link takes you to the exact spot in the video where the concept is taught or gives you the answer in text if there wasn’t a video for that particular concept.
The site keeps track of what you’ve done and where you left off. It’s easy to just right back in each time you return. They even have a spot for you to “take notes” as you’re going through the course.
You can add lessons to a “Custom Course.” Maybe, this would be a final review that you’ll want to read/listen to again before you head out for the exam.
You can print the lessons if you choose.
And, they have Music Theory Flash Cards! These may be practiced online, or you can print the sets.
Flash card front and back:
Longer chapter tests are also included.
Another interesting feature they included was a timer that you can choose to use or not. It will help you figure out how long it’s taking you to answer questions on your tests since the real AP Music Theory exam is timed.
You can also set goals through the course site, and you’ll get reminders to do your lessons to keep on track.
What about the AP Music Theory Exam?
The AP Music Theory Exam is given every May across America. Check the College Board website to find the next date, and call your local high school to sign up to take the exam. There are 84 multiple-choice and free-response questions. The total time of the test is 2 hours 40 minutes, and it costs $94 (so much cheaper than a 4-hour college class, even at the community college!)
(Below is taken directly from the College Board website on 9/3/18 so that the information about the AP Music Theory Exam is completely accurate.)
The exam is about 2 hours and 40 minutes long and has two sections — multiple choice and free-response.
Section I: Multiple Choice | 75 Questions | ~1 hour and 20 minutes | 45% of Exam Score
There are two types of multiple choice questions on the exam:
- Questions based on aural stimulus test your listening skill and knowledge about theory largely in the context of examples from actual musical scores. Some questions will cover aural skills, including melodic dictation and identification of isolated pitch and rhythmic patterns, while others may test your skill in score analysis.
- Questions based on analysis of printed music scores emphasize knowledge of score analysis, including small-scale and large-scale harmonic procedures; melodic organization and developmental procedures; rhythmic/metric organization; texture; and formal devices and/or procedures. You may also see questions about musical terminology, notational skills, and basic compositional skills.
Section II: Free-Response | 7 written questions and 2 sight-singing exercises | ~1 hour and 20 minutes | 55% of Exam Score
- Written Portion: ~1 hour and 10 minutes
- 4 questions on dictation
- 2 questions on part-writing
- 1 question on composition of a bass line
- Sight-Singing Portion: ~10 minutes
- Sing and record two brief, primarily diatonic melodies (of about four to eight bars)
- You will have 75 seconds to examine and practice each melody and 30 seconds to perform it.
- You may sing the melody beginning with the given starting pitch or another pitch in a range that is more comfortable.
How else can you use this course from Study.com?
It’s obvious that you can use the AP Music Theory: Exam Prep Course to review and study for the AP Music Theory exam, but I set out to discover whether you can use it to actually be the curriculum you study throughout the year for the AP Music Theory course in high school.
My answer is, “Yes and no.” Yes, you will learn everything you need to learn for the exam by studying through Study.com’s AP Music Theory: Exam Prep Course. But, there is another element you need for the AP Music Theory Exam. You have to actually write down answers by listening to music dictation, and you will sight-sing (it’s recorded and graded later along with the written exam).
Therefore, as you are practicing these skills throughout your study period, you need someone who can check your work and tell you what you’re missing, if you don’t write down or sing correctly. Find an experienced musician or music teacher, and that might be all you need to get you ready for the test!
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