Arab States
South East Asia
Southern Asia
Piano 1 Piano

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

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

Piano Grade 1 (2017 & 2018)

Piano requirements and information

Subject code: 01

Our Piano requirements and information summarise the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM graded Piano exams.

They are detailed in 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 as a PDF.

Further exam details and administrative information are given in our Information & Regulations, which you should read before booking an exam.


There are eight grades for Piano and candidates may be entered for any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for Grade 6, 7 or 8 exams must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument. 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 recognise that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (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 recognisable 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, 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 judgement. Examiners will not issue or comment on a learner's result. Instead, the mark form and certificate for successful candidates will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before starting: Candidates are welcome to adjust the piano stool height (the examiner will help with this if necessary) and to play a few notes to try out and get used to the piano.

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

Further information


Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. C. Bach download download Aria in F
BWV Anh. II 131
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
2 Anon.
arr. Watts
download download Canaries
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
3 Verdi
arr. Litten
download download La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle)
from Rigoletto
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
4 S. Arnold download download Giga
3rd movt from Lesson in C, Op. 12 No. 2
Encore, Book 1

More details
5 Beethoven download download Air
from Little Russia, Op. 107 No. 3
The Best of Grade 1 Piano

More details
6 Gillock download download A Stately Sarabande
Classic Piano Repertoire – William Gillock (Elementary)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Joan Last download download Bouncing Billy
from Take Your Pick
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
2 Bryan Kelly download download Gypsy Song
No. 6 from A Baker's Dozen
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
3 Trad. French
arr. Davies
download download Dans la forêt lointaine (In the Distant Forest)
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
4 Gurlitt download download Jagdstückchen
No. 7 from Der erste Vortrag, Op. 210
No. 7 from Gurlitt: Der erste Vortrag, Op. 210
Schott (ED 196)

More details
No.5 from The New Gurlitt, Vol. 1
Schott (ED 1583)

More details
5 Maconchy download download Sad Story
No. 17 from Five by Ten, Grade 1

More details
6 Trad. Welsh
arr. Barratt
download download David of the White Rock
In the Limelight, arr. Barratt
Chester (CH77605)

More details
Chester's Easiest Songs of The British Isles, arr. Barratt
Chester (CH60806)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Rob Hall download download Asian Tiger Prowl
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
2 Khachaturian download download Skipping Rope
No. 1 from Children's Album, Book 2
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
3 Trad. American
arr. Bartels
download download When the saints go marching in
Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 1

More details
4 Paul Drayton download download Chatterbox Charlie
Piano Time Dance

More details
5 Eben download download The Huntsman and the Maidens
No. 11 from Eben: Hands Together – 52 Czech Folk-tunes

More details
6 Simone Plé download download La petite troupe (The Little Troop)
from Les chants et les jeux
No. 10 from Simone Plé: Les chants et les jeux

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 are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Exam music and editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. In all these 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). See information about obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments, etc. do not need to 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 where the full musical effect rely heavily 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 needed, 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 these cases, they must make sure 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 (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 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 unauthorised 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

Buy Piano Scales & Broken Chords (Grade 1).


Piano requirements and information: Scales and broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale and broken chords needed at each grade, as well as aim 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 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.

See recommended minimum scale speeds.

Buy Piano Scales & Broken Chords (Grade 1), published by ABRSM.


21 marks

Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music that 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 table below shows the introduction of elements at each grade. These parameters are presented cumulatively, i.e. once introduced they apply for all subsequent grades (albeit within a logical progression of difficulty).


Length (bars)



Hand position

Other features that may be included

Grade 1



C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position


  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)



C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position


  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)

For practice purposes, books of specimen sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade. Buy Specimen Sight-Reading Tests (Grade 1).

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 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 these 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. See marking criteria.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in new editions (from 2011) of Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice, available to buy 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 instead of the standard tests if requested at the time of entry. See more information on alternative tests, including the syllabus.

Piano 1 Piano

What's new

  • 100% refreshed repertoire

Read an update on our Piano syllabus 2019 & 2020.

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.

Aural Trainer

An award-winning aural practice application from ABRSM - now available for Grades 1-8.

Scales Trainer

Scales Trainer is an app that helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

Sight-Reading Trainer

Practise the key features of sight-reading for Piano Grades 1 – 5.

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


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy and consent to our use of cookies. Find out more.

closer Close this message