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Piano Grade 1 Piano

Piano Grade 1 exams consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and broken chords, sight-reading and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Piano Grade 1 (2015 & 2016)

Piano requirements and information

Subject code: 01

The Piano requirements and information provide a summary of the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM Piano exams.

They are detailed within the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales and broken chords, Sight-reading and Aural tests), immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download here.

Further details, as well as administrative information relating to the exams, are given in ABRSM’s Information & Regulations which should be read before an exam booking is made.


There are eight grades for Piano and candidates may be entered in any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz subject; for full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.


ABRSM Centres provide a piano suitable for exam purposes. The piano will be upright or grand. Practice before the exam cannot be arranged, but examiners will recognize that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (i.e. premises provided by the Applicant and visited by the examiner), a suitable piano must be provided. A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognizable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece. They may also decide to stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. Examiners will not issue, or comment on, a candidate’s result; instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before beginning: Candidates are welcome to take a few moments to try out the piano, and to adjust the piano stool (the examiner will be happy to help with this if necessary).

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be undertaken in any order, at the candidate’s choice.

Further information


Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Clementi download download Arietta
Lesson 5 from Op. 42
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
2 Haydn download download Minuet in G
No. 2 from 12 Minuets, Hob. IX:3
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
3 Trad. English
arr. Davies
download download The Lincolnshire Poacher
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
4 Blow download download Hornpipe
Keynotes, Grades 1–2

More details
5 L. Mozart download download Menuett in G
No. 4 from L. Mozart: Notebook for Nannerl
Schott (ED 9006)

More details
6 Neefe download download Allegretto in C
No. 2 from Clavierstücke für Anfänger (Piano Pieces for Beginners)
Schott (ED 2572)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Gurlitt download download Das Schaukelpferd (The Rocking Horse)
from Technik und Melodie, Op. 228, Vol. 1
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
2 Knut Nystedt download download Løvet faller (Falling Leaves)
from Barnebilder
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
3 Trad. Catalan
arr. Marshall
download download El cant dels ocells (The Song of the Birds)
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
4 Gedike download download Heiteres Lied (Cheerful Song)
No. 31 from 60 Easy Piano Pieces for Beginners, Op. 36, Vol. 2
No. 31 from Gedike: 60 Easy Piano Pieces for Beginners, Op. 36, Vol. 2
Peters (EP 4702b)

More details
5 Lajos Papp download download Waltz
No. 5 from 22 Little Piano Pieces
No. 5 from Lajos Papp: 22 Little Piano Pieces
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.13216)

More details
6 Ponchielli
arr. Bullard
download download Dance of the Hours
from La Gioconda
Pianoworks: A Night at the Theatre, arr. Bullard

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Stephen Clarke download download The Giant's Coming
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
2 Stephen Duro download download Calypso Joe
No. 9 from Finger Jogging Boogie
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
3 Eben download download Na krmítku (Bird at the Feeding Box)
No. 19 from Svět malých
Piano Exam Pieces 2015 & 2016, Grade 1

More details
4 Bartók download download Children at Play
No. 1 from For Children, Vol. 1
No. 1 from Bartók: For Children, Vol. 1
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
5 Ornstein download download My, what a din the cuckoos are making!
Keynotes, Grades 1–2

More details
6 Kevin Wooding download download The House on the Hill
Spooky Piano Time

More details

Piano requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Pedalling: The use and control of pedalling, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome rather than the strict observance of any printed pedal indications (which may therefore be adapted or omitted, as appropriate). Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on pedalling (whether marked in the music or not) should be avoided if appropriate pedalling cannot be managed.

Hand stretch: Candidates should choose the most suitable pieces for their hand size from the syllabus lists. If necessary, they may occasionally adapt the music by ‘spreading’ chords or omitting notes at wide stretches, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales and broken chords

21 marks






C, G, D, F majors

A, D minors
(natural or harmonic or melodic at candidate’s choice)

hands separately
(L.H. may, at candidate’s choice, be played descending and ascending)

2 octaves

Contrary-motion scale

C major

hands beginning on the key-note (unison)

1 octave

Broken chords

C, G, F majors

A, D minors

hands separately, as pattern below:


Piano Grade 1 broken chord pattern


Piano requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio/broken chord etc. required at each grade, as well as aiming to hear, in Grades 6–8, a balance of the specified articulations. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify only:

  • the key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • left hand or right hand, or hands together
  • the articulation (Grades 6–8)

All scales, arpeggios and broken chords should:

  • be played from memory
  • ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • be prepared legato, unless the syllabus specifies staccato (or both)
  • be played without pedalling
  • be played without undue accentuation and at a pace that is consistent with accuracy and distinctness

Candidates are free to use any fingering that produces a successful musical outcome.

Candidates are free to start at any octave, provided the required ranges are covered. For all ‘hands together’ requirements, the hands should be one octave apart, unless otherwise indicated.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only, except where otherwise indicated. Scales in thirds or a third apart should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths or a sixth apart should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

Books of scale requirements are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.


21 marks

A four-bar piece in 4/4 or 3/4, or a six-bar piece in 2/4, in C, G or F majors, A or D minors, with each hand playing separately and in a five-finger position. Simple dynamics, note values, articulations and occasional accidentals (within minor keys only) may be encountered.

Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given up to half a minute in which to look through and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The main technical parameters are outlined for the grade (see above); once introduced, parameters apply for all subsequent grades (albeit with a logical progression of difficulty). For practice purposes, books of specimen sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To clap the pulse of a piece played by the examiner, and to identify whether it is in two time or three time. The examiner will start playing the passage, and the candidate should join in as soon as possible, clapping in time and giving a louder clap on the strong beats. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time or three time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.
  2. To sing as ‘echoes’ three phrases played by the examiner. The phrases will be two bars long, in a major key, and within the range of tonic–mediant. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note (the tonic) and then count in two bars. After the examiner has played each phrase, the candidate should sing back the echo without a pause, keeping in time.
  3. To identify where a change in pitch occurs during a phrase played by the examiner. The phrase will be two bars long, in a major key, and the change will affect only one of the notes. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the tonic and then count in two bars. The examiner will play the phrase twice, making the change in the second playing, after which the candidate should state whether the change was near the beginning or near the end. If necessary, the examiner will play both versions of the phrase again (although this will affect the assessment).
  4. To answer questions about two features of a piece played by the examiner. Before playing, the examiner will tell the candidate which two features the questions will be about. The first will be: dynamics (loud/quiet, or sudden/gradual changes); the second will be articulation (smooth/detached).


Piano requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is the object. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).


A number of tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. Also, where there is hesitation on the part of the candidate, the examiner will be ready to prompt, if necessary. In any such cases, this will affect the assessment. Marks are not awarded for each individual test nor deducted for mistakes but reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section.

Minor modifications (from 2011)

This syllabus includes the minor modifications introduced to some aural tests in 2011.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in new editions (from 2011) of Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice, available for purchase from music retailers and from the ABRSM music shop.

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may opt to respond to alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. The syllabus for these tests is available free on request from ABRSM's Access Coordinator. Examples of the alternative tests are available for purchase from Allegro Music (T +44 (0)1885 490375; E The minor modifications (from 2011) do not affect the alternative aural tests.

Piano 1 Piano

What's new in the exam?

  • New Pieces
  • Available in July 2016
  • Valid from 1 January 2017

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Piano Practice Partner

Piano Practice Partner helps you by playing one hand so you can play the other as you learn.

Scales Trainer

Scales Trainer is an app for teachers and learners to increase their fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

Translations for this page are available in: English, 简体中文


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