1. What is the Theory Exam?

The Theory Exams are online and on-demand, and support the Basic Piano Adventures curriculum. The Primer Theory Exam is available! The Level 1 Theory and Performance Exams will be released in Fall 2024 with additional levels coming soon.

Primer Exam Concepts

Key names, steps, skips, basic rhythms,  f, p, mf, Bass C to Treble G notes, 4/4 and 3/4, C five-finger scale, tie, quarter rest, octave, question & answer

Level 1 Exam Concepts

Notes across the Grand Staff, intervals of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, octave, legato, slur, staccato, quarter half, whole rest, sharps, flats, tonic, dominant, I and V7, f, p, mf, mp, accent mark, octave sign, fermata, ritardando, upbeat

Level 2A Exam Concepts

Systematic reading with notes, intervals, rhythm patterns, 5-finger scales, and chords. Eighth note patterns, C-Cm, D-Dm, G-Gm, and A-Am 5-finger scales, phrases, cresc. and dim., transposition, lead sheet for applied theory

Level 2B Exam Concepts

Scale patterns, intervals, and I, IV, and V7 chords, the 6th, dotted quarter note, C, G, F scales, tonic, dominant, leading tone, cross-hand arpeggios, AB and ABA form, connected pedaling, lead sheet, 1st and 2nd endings, a tempo, D. C. al Fine, eighth rest, accidentals

Level 3A Exam Concepts

One-octave scales and primary chords in C, G, F, and D major, Alberti bass, ABA1 form, interval of a 7th, cut time, 3/8, 6/8, triplets, expanded ledger lines, lead sheet for applied theory, chromatic scale, one-octave arpeggios

Level 3B Exam Concepts

Major and relative minor keys, Am, Dm, and Em natural and harmonic minor scales, primary chords (i, iv, V7), motive and sequence, one-octave arpeggios, 12 major and minor triads, 12-bar blues progression, chord inversions, 16th-note patterns

Level 4 Exam Concepts

Sharp key signatures, two-octave major and harmonic minor scales: C-Am, G-Em, F-Dm, and D, A, and E major, the dotted 16th-note pattern, advancing 16th-note patterns, root position V7 chord, chord inversions, sforzando, trill

Level 5 Exam Concepts

Flat key signatures, tonic, sub-dominant, and dominant chords and inversions, natural, harmonic, and melodic scales in Dm, Gm, and Cm with primary chords, 12/8 time, major, minor, and perfect intervals, circle of 5ths, two-octave arpeggios, changing time signatures

2. What is the format and grading of the Primer Theory Exam?

In general, the Theory Exams consist of questions with multiple-choice answers. The questions cover the theory fundamentals for the specific Piano Adventures level.

For example, the Primer Theory Exam covers theory concepts presented in the Piano Adventures Primer Level. The six Exam sections cover:

  Finger Numbers
  Basic Rhythms
  Key Names
  Note Reading
  Music Terms
  Ear Training

The Primer Theory Exam has a total of 70 questions divided between the six sections. Each question receives 1 point. Each online Theory Exam slide has only one question per screen making it easy for students to focus and concentrate. The required passing score is 70% (49 points) or higher.

3. What is the mascot Trophy’s role in the Theory Exam?

An exciting feature that students enjoy for the Theory Exams is the mascot Trophy. Trophy is a symbol that each moment of learning is a “Trophy moment.” For the Theory Exam, Trophy guides students through the Exam by doing flips and somersaults as students move along. Trophy helps to pace the Exam, keeping it light-hearted and relaxed.

4. Are there Sample Theory Questions for students, parents, and teachers?

Yes! 5 Sample Primer Theory Questions are available for students, parents, and teachers to explore. Meet Trophy and experience the Exam interface.

5. What is the minimum age for a student to take the Theory Exam? Is there narration?

Students should be at least 5 years old to participate in the Piano Adventures Exams. For the Primer Theory Exam, young students should be secure enough in their reading skills to take the Theory Exam without assistance. Note: Adult assistance with Exam set-up is encouraged. However, students should take the Theory Exam itself independently, without help from an adult or other party.

Piano Adventures Exams is happy to offer Guided Audio Narration for the Theory Exams.

Students may hear each question read aloud at a relaxed pace. Students may also easily “opt out” from the guided narration.

6. Is there a time limit on taking the Primer Theory Exam?

While there is no time limit, the Primer Theory Exam takes approximately 20 minutes. Students should complete the Exam in one sitting, if possible.

7. When are the results of the Theory Exam available?

Theory Results are available approximately 5 days after the Theory Exam is submitted.

8. What is the fee for the Theory Exam?

The fee for the Theory Exam is $20. The fee for the Performance Exam is $50. When both Exams are taken, a discounted fee of $60 is offered.

Theory Exam Preparation and Support


9. How can students prepare for the Theory Exam?

The best preparation for the Primer Theory Exam is for teachers and students to have fun using the Primer Unit Assessments—a print support book for the teacher which the student does not need to purchase. The Primer Unit Assessments can also be accessed on the Piano Adventures Teacher Atlas.

The Primer Unit Assessments can be done in private or group lessons as a student moves through the Primer Books. Each assessment takes approximately 10 minutes and includes all the skills covered in the Primer Theory Exam. They may be done in-person or in online lessons. The Unit Assessments provide a way for the teacher to know that the student knows—and for the student to have certainty in the basics.

In addition, teachers are, of course, encouraged to use the Primer Theory Book and to do the Discovery Questions and Creative Activities at the end of the Lesson and Performance Book pieces.

10. How can teachers use the Primer Unit Assessments to ensure that a student is best prepared for the Theory Exam?

At the end of each Unit in the Lesson Book, the teacher and student may do the corresponding Unit Assessment. Unit Assessments give ideal practice within a question-and-answer format as well as multiple choice. When the student verbally gives definitions and other answers, a musical dialog with the teacher is set up. Concentration is developed along with a mental ability to quickly retrieve theory facts.

Teachers report increased focus as students are assessed! It is almost a guarantee that students will pass their Theory Exam with flying colors when the Unit Assessments are used regularly in lessons.

The Unit Assessments can also be helpful for transfer students entering Level 1. Simply do several Primer Unit Assessments in a lesson to confirm understanding of theory fundamentals.

11. What is THE BRAVO BOARD for Theory students?

Students receiving a score of 97% points (68 points) or higher earn the title of “Theory Leader”! These students will be nominated for The Bravo Board—an area of the Piano Adventures Exam website where outstanding students in Theory and Performance are recognized. Parent/Guardian permission is required for students to be featured on The Bravo Board. (Permission may be granted via the dashboard on the Parent/Guardian Exam Account.)

Theory Leaders will be featured on The Bravo Board for a period of one year. The Exam mascot Trophy gives each student a personalized, congratulatory message. Students, their families, and friends enjoy this time of recognition. At the end of one year the posting is removed from The Bravo Board. However, students are encouraged to be recognized again in Theory and/or Performance at higher Piano Adventures levels.

Note: Students and Parent/Guardians may opt out of participating in The Bravo Board simply by not activating the Permission Request.