Music History Graduate Diagnostic Exam

In this diagnostic exam, students are tested on their knowledge of Western music history from the Middle Ages to the present. The exam is given in one of two formats:


This exam consists of approximately 110 questions. In Part A, students will answer a series of questions regarding an unknown musical example being played. In Part B, students will answer a wide range of questions regarding style and context (social, cultural, political, and historical); this part will also include some score identifications. Some sample questions are below:

For Part A:

The example represents the repertory of the

  1. St. Martial School
  2. Notre Dame School
  3. Trecento
  4. Burgundian School

For Part B:

To which of the following genres did Giuseppe Verdi NOT contribute:

  1. requiem
  2. opera
  3. oratorio
  4. string quartet


This exam consists of approximately 50 questions. The samples below are typical questions, and their given answers would be considered acceptable in length and substance: 

Q: Identify the Dies irae and explain its significance in the history of music.

A: The Dies irae is a Gregorian chant, part of the Requiem Mass, the melody of which was quoted as a symbol of death or the diabolical by many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Q: Who wrote Tristan und Isolde and what is its significance in the history of music?

A: Richard Wagner; the opera’s chromaticism greatly influenced composers of the late 19th-century.