This is a follow-up question to a previous question of mine: What are the levels of scale mastery (or, how do I know if I've mastered a scale)?

What does a college-level (or music-school-level) exam that tests the student's knowledge of scales look like?

I'm interested in answer for in-person and online courses (like Berklee's Guitar Scales 101).

EDIT: I'm also interested in practical exams at least as much as theoretic ones.

3 Answers 3


A sample question that you may get at an Music Theory entrance exam could be something like this:

Write the A♭ minor scale ascending and descending with key signature. Mark all semitones with a slur and use only semibreves.

As a note to the OP, you can buy this book if you are interested in learning scales at a collegiate level.


  • Thank you for your answer! Would you know about "performance" questions, though? For example, to be asked to perform the scale on the instrument at a certain speed, or in a particular way. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:13
  • I know if you would apply to to the RAM you would need to be able to do all technical exercises to a Grade 8 level. Seeing as the US does not have such pre college music qualifications I have no idea what level of practical musicianship they would require.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:16
  • Best to visit the college's website and see exactly they want at the audition.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:18
  • @RafaelAlmeida I believe that would depend on what you are being examined for; I mean, if you are trying to get into a uni to study flute, you'll probably will have to play the scale there too. If you want to study theoretical music, you might have to play it on the piano; depends on the uni Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:24
  • @NeilMeyer I believe that the Grade 8 Level refers to this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_examination. Do you know of any place where I can find sample exercises at all the Grade 1-8 levels? Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:47

The professor that is teaching me double bass and studied jazz in a conservatory in Berlin, told me that in the entrance exams of the Uni, you have to play a scale two octaves.

If I'm not mistaken, the 'scale' could be any of the basics ones, major or minor (natural/harmonic/melodic); they most likely wouldn't ask about scales like the whole-tone or diminished. But again, that would really depend on the university and the subject on which you are being examined about.

You might also be asked to write a scale.

  • I cannot imagine if they test your theory how they cannot ask you to write a scale.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:43

Apart from being able to play at least two octaves of a certain scale on your instrument, you are usually also supposed to be able to recognize a scale when you hear it. The required scales would usually be major, minor (natural, harmonic, melodic) and the modes (dorian, phrygian, etc.).

One good way of practicing both is to start playing the root on your instrument, then sing the following note, then play it to check if you sang it correctly, etc. You don't need to be a good singer to do it, but if you fail producing the correct pitch, it means that your ears haven't mastered the scale yet, even though your fingers might have.

  • Do you mean rocgnising the scale type or the specific scale? Recognizing a minor scale is one thing but to know it is a minor before you even get to college would be harsh
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 17:08
  • @NeilMeyer: I mean the specific scale. I've seen this in entry test of European music conservatories.
    – Matt L.
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 18:03

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