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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.

Woodwind syllabuses from 2022

Key dates

  • 8 July 2021: Online publication of Woodwind syllabuses from 2022 (Practical Grades and Performance Grades)
  • 8 July 2021: Print publication of Flute Exam Pieces(Grades 1–7), Clarinet Exam Pieces (Grades 1–7) and Saxophone Exam Pieces (Grades 1–5); publication of Exam Pack books (pieces, scales and sight-reading) for the same instruments at Grades 1–5; audio recordings of all pieces in the books also available
  • 1 January 2022: Woodwind syllabuses from 2022 come into effect

What’s new

  • Refreshed repertoire lists for all woodwind instruments at all grades
    • approximately 50% new repertoire, with some of the most popular pieces retained from the 2018–2021 syllabus
  • Duet option
    • included in Practical Grades for the first time – up to Grade 3
    • extended in Performance Grades at Grades 1–3
  • Revised list structure
    • lists defined by musical characteristics rather than accompanied/solo and period of composition
    • playing unaccompanied no longer a requirement, but remains an option
  • Greater flexibility for recorder players to present pieces on a different recorder

Syllabus validity

Woodwind syllabuses from 2022 come into effect on 1 January 2022. This means that:

  • candidates can begin to present pieces from the new lists;
  • candidates can continue to present pieces from the 2018–2021 syllabus lists during the overlap period (see below);
  • for Practical Grades, the scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural test requirements remain exactly the same as for the 2018–2021 syllabus.

Syllabus overlap

For candidates wishing to present pieces drawn from the 2018–2021 syllabus, a one-year overlap period (up to 31 December 2022) now applies to all countries – including the UK and Ireland. All three set pieces must be prepared from the same syllabus.

More information coming soon

Practical Grades: Brass Syllabus 2021

The current Brass syllabus has been extended to 2021.

Brass teachers should keep hold of their copies of the 2017–2020 syllabus booklet to refer to throughout 2021. The individual instrumental syllabuses are also available online.

A new syllabus is being developed to take effect from January 2022 and advance notice of planned changes will be posted here during 2021.

Practical Grades: Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022

Key dates

  • 9 July 2020: Publication of Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022 (syllabus resource materials are available in print, the full piano syllabus is online only)
  • 9 July 2020: Publication of Piano Exam Pieces (Grades Initial–8), Piano Scales & Arpeggios (Grades Initial–8), Teaching Notes on Piano Exam Pieces (Grades Initial–8) and audio recordings of all pieces on the syllabus
  • 9 July 2020: Publication of Specimen Piano Sight-Reading Tests for the new Initial Grade exam; Initial Grade Specimen Aural Tests  already available
  • 1 January 2021: Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022 comes into effect

What’s new

  • New repertoire lists and scale requirements at all grades
  • Repertoire:
    • More choice than ever before, with the lists extended to ten pieces (30 pieces in total per grade)
    • Duet option included for the first time – up to Grade 3
    • Revised list structure
  • Scales requirements
    • A more realistic and manageable assessment load, with the focus instead on technical development and progression
  • Initial Grade exam introduced – a pre-Grade 1 assessment following the same structure, content and assessment criteria as ABRSM’s existing graded music exams (three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests)

Syllabus validity

Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022 comes into effect on 1 January 2021. This means:

  • Candidates can begin to present the pieces and scales requirements from the new syllabus;
  • Candidates can continue to present the pieces and scales requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus during the overlap period (see below);
  • Sight-reading and aural test requirements remain exactly the same as for the 2019 & 2020 syllabus.

Syllabus overlap

For candidates wishing to present pieces and scale requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus, a one-year overlap period (up to 31 December 2021) now applies to all countries – including the UK and Ireland.

All three pieces and the scales requirements must be prepared from the same syllabus.

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