Focusing on all-round musicianship

We've designed our Practical graded music exams to motivate instrumental and singing students of all ages and a wide range of abilities. They're available at Grades 1 to 8, as well as a pre-Grade 1 Initial Grade for some subjects. They provide:

  • Progressive goals to aim for
  • Recognition for achievement
  • Carefully structured syllabus requirements
  • One-to-one assessment by an expert professional
  • An objective guide to a candidate’s skills and progress.

ABRSM exams are music exams rather than instrumental or singing exams. Examiners assess the quality of the music-making, not how it's achieved. For this reason, we don't restrict examiners to assessing only their own instrument but require them to examine all instruments.

There are no age restrictions and students can start with any grade or skip grades if they want to.

What's included in a Practical exam?

To succeed in our Practical exams, candidates need a combination of skills and understanding. Broadly, we assess:

  • Performance skills through pieces or songs
  • Technical skills through scales and arpeggios
  • Notation skills through a sight-reading test
  • Listening skills and musical perception through aural tests

How many marks are available?

Total marks in all individual Practical graded exams are 150.

  • 100 marks are required to pass
  • 120 marks are required to pass with merit
  • 130 marks are required to pass with distinction

Find out more about each part of the Practical graded exam

Three pieces
(each marked out of 30)

Experiencing a selection of good music is an essential part of musical learning.

(marked out of 21)

Being able to sight-read enables students to explore new pieces with increased confidence.

Scales & arpeggios
(marked out of 21)

Students can develop many aspects of technique through scale practice, including familiarity with the physicality of their instrument or voice, articulation, tone and intonation.

Aural tests
(marked out of 18)

Listening is the basis of all good music making. ABRSM aural tests are designed to strengthen the vital connection between listening and performing.

Other key exam information


Our examiners

Our examining panels consist of over 700 musicians, all highly qualified and skilled in their own field.

Our exam syllabuses

We offer graded instrumental and singing exams for over 35 subjects

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