What is a graded music exam?
ABRSM graded music exams usually consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests.
Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve a pass, 120 marks to pass with merit and 130 marks to pass with distinction.
Exams at Grades 1-8 are provided for most of the instruments we offer.
In most ABRSM graded music exams three pre-prepared pieces listed in the syllabus are performed by the candidate.
All scales and arpeggios are played from memory. Examiners will usually ask for at least one type of scale/arpeggio required at each grade.
Aural tests assess the standard of a candidate's 'musical ear'. The examiner will deliver each test following a set of spoken words and instructions. Each test will require either a spoken, sung or clapped response.
The speed and accuracy with which candidates respond to the aural tests can tell the examiner a lot about the candidate’s musical make-up and help to form an overall picture of the candidate’s abilities.
Listening leads to learning and is fundamental to any musical training programme, especially one that involves performance.
In the sight-reading test the examiner gives the candidate a piece of music they have not previously seen. The candidate is given up to half a minute in which to look through the music and, if they wish, try out any part of the test before they are required to perform it for assessment.
Who are the examiners?
ABRSM’s team of over 600 examiners consists of respected musicians from every branch of the profession. It includes orchestral players, soloists, chamber music players, heads of school music departments and professors from the Royal Schools of Music, many of whose names are well-known in the musical world.