Oberlin Conservatory and Double Degree Program students have the opportunity to take placement tests during New Student Orientation. We offer placement testing in aural skills, music theory, music history, and piano.

Students who have taken Advanced Placement courses should consult with the Academic Advising Resource Center or review the policies in Oberlin’s catalog under each program in the conservatory’s 11 divisions.

Testing and placement for Aural Skills courses take place during Orientation.

  • Most students will take an online test prior to the first week of classes. Students will receive an individual schedule with testing dates and times.
  • Placement will be based on sight singing rhythms and melodies. (Solfége is not required.)
  • Based on this test score, incoming students will be pre-registered for their assigned course just prior to the first week of classes.

For questions about Theory, Aural Skills, and Music History or testing conflicts or technical issues contact: Jeanne Rosecrans, Kohl Bldg 309, x58297.

College of Arts and Sciences students interested in taking aural skills courses may also take the test, however, Bachelor of Music students will be given preference regarding class limit and section assignment. The aural skills test is not required of arts and sciences students wishing to take secondary lessons, ensembles, and most other conservatory courses.

Performance Diploma students are not eligible to take theory, aural skills, or music history until they have transferred into the Bachelor of Music degree. Please contact our office if you have questions or concerns regarding this restriction.

 

Jazz students are required to take additional jazz theory and jazz aural skills courses. Placement in these courses is based on testing which usually occurs during the Orietnation process.

  • Most students will take an online test prior to the first week of classes. Students will receive an individual schedule with testing dates and times.
  • Based on this test score, incoming students will be pre-registered for their assigned course just prior to the first week of classes.

Please see an updated Orientation schedule for specific information. For jazz theory and jazz aural skills questions, please contact Julie Baker Kohl Bldg 200.

The music theory placement test is required for all Bachelor of Music and Double Degree Program students. Most students submit this test during the admissions process. You will receive a link to complete our online music theory exam in the confirmation email we send after we receive your Oberlin Conservatory Application for Admission.

This initial test will be requested again for incoming Bachelor of Music/Double Degree Program students who did not take the test during the admissions process. This course is not required of Master’s, Artist Diploma, or Performance Diploma students.

Most students will be notified of their placement via email prior to their arrival on campus. 

Based on this test score, incoming conservatory/double degree-students will be placed into and consented for their assigned theory courses and sections, if they place into the first level of music theory. New students will be pre-registered for their theory courses just prior to the first week of classes.

Some students will have the opportunity to take an additional test, which may or may not place them into a more advanced theory course. Selected students will receive instructions and the advanced placement test via email throught the summer. The exemption test deadline is usually July 15.

For questions about Theory, Aural Skills, and Music History contact: Jeanne Rosecrans, Kohl Bldg 309, x58297

Students who wish to prepare for the placement exam can consult Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter by John Clough (pub. Norton) or The Complete Musician by Steven G. Laitz (pub. Oxford University Press).


College of Arts and Science students or incoming Bachelor of Music students who are interested in taking theory courses who have not yet taken the theory test, but who wish to do so may take the online theory test . Bachelor of Music students, however, will be given preference regarding class limit and section assignment. The music theory placement exam/course is not required of arts and sciences students wishing to take secondary lessons, ensembles, and most other conservatory courses.

All conservatory students are required to take MHST 101, Introduction to Music History and Literature. Students are consented for MHST 101 either fall or spring semester. Some students will be pre-registered for this course in the fall just prior to the first week of classes.

Transfer students who have successfully passed two or more semesters of music history at another institution and students who have taken music history courses (particularly through the IB program) may wish to take the placement exam.

The exam generally takes two hours and includes specific and generic listening identification; term definition; and essay questions on Western concert music, jazz, popular music, and basic ethnomusicology. One must pass every component of the exam and successfully demonstrate knowledge of all eras of music history in order to pass the exam.

Students interested in taking the exam must send an email to departmental assistant Jeanne Rosecrans by the first week of August to allow for scheduling. The exam is usually scheduled as group testing during Orientation. Please check your Orientation schedule for updated time, date, and location. Final placements and waivers are assigned by department chair Charles McGuire .

Music history is not required of Master’s, Artist Diploma, or Performance Diploma students.

For questions about Theory, Aural Skills, and Music History contact: Jeanne Rosecrans, Kohl Bldg 309, x58297


College of Arts and Science students: Bachelor of music students will be given preference regarding class limit and section assignment. The music history test/course is not required of arts and sciences students wishing to take secondary lessons, ensembles, and most other conservatory courses.

Piano Class is required for most Conservatory majors. Information regarding testing will be e-mailed to students over the summer prior to the first week of classes.

  • Conservatory students without prior piano experience do not need to take a placement audition and can be placed directly into the beginning level of Piano Class 110. Please send an email to Professor Andrea McAlister for more information.
  • New and returning arts and sciences students interested in secondary piano lessons should email Professor Andrea McAlister. Students may be placed into private lessons with student-teachers or faculty for credit-bearing lessons. Space is limited. 
  • Repertoire: Students will be asked to sight read, harmonize, and play a few scales and chords. One solo may be prepared that represents your highest level of playing but is not required.

See Secondary Lessons: Piano Auditions and Consent for additional details, and send an email to Professor Andrea McAlister if you have questions about secondary piano instruction.

All entering Conservatory and Double-Degree students must complete the Conservatory Writing Assessment, administered by the Conservatory Writing Committee. Generally, this assessment takes place during the Orientation process. This assessment is graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. Students who receive a passing grade on this initial assessment will have satisfied the writing requirement.

For question regarding the Conservatory Writing Assessment please contact the Office of Associate Deans in Bibbins 113, x58200.

For general information about requesting credit for Advanced Placement (AP) exams, review the Advanced Placement or course planning for first-time students section in the Academic Advising Resource Center website.

Browse the course catalog for additional information. You will need to search under “AP credit’ for each department and their requirements. Students with a score of 5 will normally receive 4 AP credits in that area of study.

For questions regarding AP credits please contact the AARC, Carnegie West, x58450.

Blackboard Instructions

Visit blackboard.oberlin.edu  to begin.

By late July or early August, you should be able to sign on using your Obie ID sent to you in the gold-colored letter from the Oberlin College registrar’s office.

  1. Select the tab labeled "Academics" where you will find that you are enrolled in a course entitled "Placement/Readiness Exams" once Blackboard is prepped for the school year.
  2. Follow the "Placement/Readiness Exams" link to find information and instructions for taking placement test before and once on campus (on the "What to do" page).