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Articles / Applying to College / AP Music Theory Test Site for Home Schooled Student?

March 9, 2018

AP Music Theory Test Site for Home Schooled Student?

Question: My charter school, home schooled child has self studied for the AP Music Theory exam. Our local school districts do not offer the Music Theory exam. I contacted the College Board and was given a large list of schools in California that are willing to offer exams to home schoolers or students outside their district. However, after contacting multiple schools, the vast majority do not offer the Music Theory exam and those that do will not accept outsiders for that particular test. I was told today that it is illegal for the district we are in not to offer an AP exam if a student wants to take it and that I should contact the superintendent. I wanted to find out what the actual rules are regarding this. Thank you.

I understand your frustration, but—as far as I know (and I definitely don't know for sure!)--no high school is required to offer an AP exam when the corresponding course is not taught there.


While, in most cases, it would seem easy for a school's AP coordinator to order an extra exam for a homeschooled student, there are complications when it comes to the Music Theory test. Because it includes sight-singing and listening to recorded music, the test would require a separate administration by a proctor who is very familiar with its logistics (which is unlikely in a school where AP Music Theory isn't available). Thus, a homeschooled Music Theory student can't sit quietly in the corner taking the test on her own the way she might if she'd self-studied a subject like English Lit or chemistry.

Your best bet would be to call the College Board again and ask for names of specific schools where the AP Music Theory class is offered. Meanwhile, because you may get tangled in red tape as you wrangle with the College Board, I suggest contacting private schools—if you haven't already—and, especially schools (both private and public) with an arts focus. (e.g., See https://www.niche.com/k12/search/best-schools-for-the-arts/ ) Your daughter may have to travel to take the exam, but perhaps you can turn a test-taking junket into a college-visit junket too.

If you're going to take this approach, do jump on it right away since the delivery of these exams doesn't seem to work like Amazon Prime. ;-) High schools have to order AP exams well in advance of the test dates.

And if you haven't already done so, post this query on the College Confidential Home Schooling forum to see what other families in similar straits have done in the past.

Good luck!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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