Freshman Placement Exams

Foreign Language Placement Examinations

All music majors who have previously studied a foreign language are encouraged to take the foreign language placement exams if they intend to continue study in that language at USC. Some majors at USC (specifically Bachelor of Arts majors) have a foreign language requirement

If you intend to take a placement exam, consult with the USC Language Center to learn when to take the appropriate placement exam.

Keyboard Skills Placement Examination

Freshmen with previous keyboard study may be able to place out of some or the entire keyboard skills requirement for their degrees by taking this exam.

Fall Keyboard Placement Exam Offerings
Friday before the first week of the semester
Friday of the first week of the semester

Spring Keyboard Placement Exam Offerings
Friday of the first week of the semester
Friday of the last week of instruction

Further information is available through the Keyboard Studies Office at (213) 740-7703 or via email at

Any USC undergraduate pursuing a major in music, who wishes to take a keyboard placement exam for a possible course waiver of MPKS 150ab or MPKS 250ab, must take that exam by the end of their second semester. If the exam is not passed by the end of the second semester, students will not have another opportunity to attempt the exam and will need to complete the required keyboard course(s) at USC. Questions regarding this policy may be directed to Dr. Stephen Pierce at

Music Theory and Aural Skills Diagnostic Exams

New first-year students (all majors except Music Industry) are required to complete a music theory and aural skills diagnostic exam to prepare for fall semester courses. This exam will be administered online starting June 24 to 28. Students must complete this exam within this window in June. Detailed instructions on completing the diagnostic exam will be provided to incoming first-year students by the Composition Department and the Director of Undergraduate Theory by early May. These diagnostic exams are not placement exams. Placement exams for theory and aural skills will take place during the first week of the semester. All students pursuing a BM degree will register for first-year theory and aural skills during their Orientation registration time regardless of their diagnostic exam results.