Latest exam updates

Music Theory exams – March 2021

  • Online Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 5) – we are cancelling the online exams planned for 16 March. Exams in May and June will go ahead as planned.
  • Paper Music Theory exams (Grades 6 to 8) – the next exams will take place in June. Please note, dates and booking periods for Grades 1-5 and Grades 6-8 may be different from now on. For full details, see our dates and fees page.
  • Grade 5 Music Theory requirement - from 1 January to 30 April 2021 only, candidates can take Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical exams without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. From 1 May 2021, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return with flexibility about timing. If you receive an email asking for your proof of prerequisite, please ignore this. We will still release any results in line with the arrangements outlined here.

For more information click here.


Prerequisite for entry to Practical Grades 6–8

Candidates for Practical Grades 6, 7 and 8 must already have passed one of the following qualifications:

Accepted alternatives

  • Australian Music Examination Board: Grade 5 (or above) in Theory of Music
  • London College of Music: Grade 5 (or above) in Theory of Music (nb: Popular Music Theory is not accepted)
  • The Royal Conservatory of Music [Canada]: both Advanced Rudiments and Basic Harmony
  • Royal Irish Academy of Music: Grade 6 (or above) in Theory & Harmony
  • Trinity College London/Trinity Guildhall: Grade 5 (or above) in Theory of Music
  • University of South Africa: Grade 5 (or above) in Theory of Music
  • Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music & Drama: Grade 5 (or above) in Musicianship
  • Irish Leaving Certificate: Grade B (or above) in Music (Higher Level)
  • The Open University: A224 Inside Music

ABRSM encourages the development of the all-round musician from the earliest stages of learning. We believe that good foundations in performance and theory create confident musicians and as a student progresses, the development of connections between musical skills, knowledge and understanding becomes increasingly important, and is essential to deeper appreciation of how music works.

We believe that such an appreciation is fundamental to effective musical communication in all its forms, enhancing musical awareness, sensitivity and control in performance. Grade 5 in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or Practical Grade Jazz encompasses essential aspects of musical learning that prepare candidates for solid, sustainable success in practical exams at Grades 6, 7 and 8, as well as laying lifelong foundations for their future as musicians.

For exams to be taken in the UK & Ireland: A copy of the certificate or mark form must be supplied at the time of entry for your Practical or Performance exam, except for ABRSM qualifications taken in the UK or Ireland and gained in or after Period C 1993 (for which supporting documentation will only be required in cases where ABRSM is unable to verify the qualification from its records).

For exams to be taken in all other countries: A copy of the certificate or mark form must be supplied at the time of entry for your Practical or Performance exam.

ABRSM will consider other qualifications on a case-by-case basis. However, any requests of this nature must be submitted to us at least three weeks before you book your Grade 6–8 Practical exam.

Please contact our Learning & Qualifications team to do this, submitting a copy of your certificate and/or mark form, and full details of the relevant content of the course/qualification – i.e. one or more of the following: a copy of the syllabus, a course/module transcript, examples of past papers. Any documentation that is not in English must be accompanied by a certified official translation.

If your qualification is accepted, a letter of confirmation will be issued to you. You should submit this letter when entering for your Practical exam.

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