Latest exam updates

Online Music Theory exams in November

If you have candidates taking online Music Theory exams on 10 November, make sure you have sent them their login details and the online checklist link included in the same email as the log in details. They will need these well before the exam to: read the online checklist, download the exam software, run through the pre-exam set up and log in to test the practice questions. On the day of the exam the practice questions will not be available via the software but can also be found here under ‘More free resources’ . Candidates should open the software 15-30 minutes before the exam start time to run through the pre-exam set up. The live test will then be available at the exam start time. If you are a parent and do not have your child’s login details yet, contact the person who booked the exam.

Music Theory exams

To provide a more candidate-friendly experience, we will be moving the assessment of Music Theory at Grades 1 to 5 to an online exam.

With a focus on creating a more reliable and accessible assessment, our new Online Music Theory assessments give candidates the best opportunity to demonstrate their musical knowledge and understanding.

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, and going on to cover harmony and counterpoint, composition, and a broad knowledge of western music, including composers and their works, structure, style and period.

Each 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.)

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