Our online booking service will be unavailable on Monday 19 April while we make some important updates. We will provide a new message here once the service is available again. If you have a Performance Grade exam booking this session, please see our Latest Updates page for important information on how this may affect you.

Latest exam updates

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details.

Music Theory exams

As instrumental skills progress, development in music theory and musicianship becomes increasingly important in helping students to perform with sensitivity, understanding and confidence.

ABRSM’s Music Theory exams aim to give students a thorough understanding of the building blocks of music, starting with the basics of rhythm and notes at Grades 1 to 5. To provide a more candidate friendly experience, we have moved the assessment of these grades to an online exam.

At Grades 6 to 8, this learning is expanded to cover harmony and counterpoint, composition, and a broad knowledge of western music, including composers and their works, structure, style and period.

Each Grade 1 to 5 Music Theory paper is marked out of a total of 75, with 50 marks required for a Pass, 60 for a Merit and 65 for a Distinction.

Each Grade 6 to 8 Music Theory paper is marked out of a total of 100, with 66 marks required for a Pass, 80 for a Merit and 90 for a Distinction.

Our benchmark

A longstanding ABRSM benchmark is that a pass at Grade 5 or above in Music Theory must be obtained before candidates can enter for Grades 6, 7 or 8 Practical exams. This also applies to Performance exams at these grades. We believe that a thorough understanding of the elements of music is essential for a full and satisfying performance at these higher grades. (Grade 5 or above in Practical Musicianship or a Practical Grades solo Jazz subject also fulfils this prerequisite.)

Publications

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