Prospective music majors frequently ask how important test scores, GPAs and academics in general are for getting into music school. Faculty from diverse music schools at MajoringInMusic.com presentations have addressed these questions as follows…
First and foremost, remember that all schools are different. Their requirements are not the same. Conservatories are typically less concerned about your high school academics unless you and another prospective music student are being considered by them for the same spot in their upcoming class. That said, conservatories within universities may have higher academic requirements. Dual-degrees and double majors, especially where one of the majors is outside of music, will definitely require a strong academic background. State-related schools vary in terms of the importance of academics. Liberal arts schools with strong music departments will typically expect students to apply with strong test scores and GPAs.
What about AP/IB? How important are they?
Some schools will waive certain required courses if students show a 5,6,or 7 on an IB exam or a 5 on an AP exam. This may allow students to pass out of general education requirements and allow more room for electives, a minor, and/or a double major. Some schools will exempt a student with a high score on the AP Music Theory exam from the first level of Music Theory.
Most schools post on their websites the average GPA and SAT/ACT scores of the previous year’s class. Even if they don’t use academics as a primary decision-making tool for acceptance, they say that it’s important to be strong in reading, writing, and communication skills. They also say that academic performance in high school is an indication of success in college.
Thanks for addressing this topic. I remember back when I was applying for undergraduate programs and college counselors were telling me I needed to take certain tests, get certain scores, etc. etc. It ultimately didn’t all apply to me, but I did end up attending a major university with a conservatory. As you note, they had a higher academic requirement than some of the schools I applied to. I also wrote a post similar to this on my own blog, entitled “The Class Schedule for the High School Singer” for those looking to study Voice Performance specifically. It dives more into my experience and some things I would have done to prepare myself academically at that age.