Proficiency Assessment and Exams

Entering Student Proficiency Assessment (ESPA)

All new Berklee Bachelor of Music or professional diploma students must take the online Entering Student Proficiency Assessment (ESPA). This assessment enables Berklee to determine whether advanced levels of arranging, harmony, and ear training are right for you and to place you in classes with students of similar musical knowledge. All first-semester students will take an entering student proficiency assessment. It is important to remember that you cannot "pass or fail" the assessment and that no grade will be assigned to it. The ESPA is a critical component in developing your first semester schedule.

The ESPA has several parts. All students must attempt:

  • Ear Training 
  • Harmony 1
  • Writing Skills
  • Music Technology 

If you wish to qualify for additional advanced placement, you should also attempt:

  • Harmony 2
  • Arranging 1
  • Harmony 3

You do not have to complete all of the sections at one time, but once you begin a section you will have a limited time to complete it. You must have your OnePass set up and use your email address to access the exam.

Your responses to the music technology section of the ESPA will determine whether you need to take Introduction to Music Technology (MTEC-111) or a higher-level course. If you successfully test out of MTEC-111, you will earn credit by exam (CBX) and may be placed in a course such as MTEC-213 Producing Music with Ableton Live or MTEC-214 Producing Music with Logic Pro. View more details of the music technology section of the exam (login required).

English Proficiency Exam

All non-native English speakers are required to take the English proficiency exam, which is administered during orientation week.

The English proficiency exam is not required for native English speakers.

Traditional Harmony and Counterpoint Exam (optional)

This exam offers you the opportunity to receive credit for Traditional Harmony (CM-211 and CM-212), provided that you demonstrate strong comprehension of the subject matter. Before taking the Traditional Harmony and Counterpoint exam, you need to pick up an outline of test materials from the Professional Writing Center.

If you successfully test out of Traditional Harmony and Counterpoint and you are registered for either CM-211 or CP-211, then you will need to drop the course from your schedule by the add/drop deadline. Most students complete this credit by exam in their second or later semester on campus.

For answers to questions about the Traditional Harmony and Counterpoint exam, contact the Composition Department (login required).

How to Request Accommodations

If you would like to request accommodations based on a disability for the ESPA or other placement exams, please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources for Students by emailing or calling 617-747-2387.