Latest exam updates

Exam refunds

To support customers affected by ongoing COVID restrictions, for Practical and Performance Grade exams from 1 January to 31 May 2021 any absent candidate will automatically receive a refund. This includes Performance Grades where the candidate has been unable to record and upload their video. You do not need to contact us to request a refund. However, it will help us if you can log in to your account and cancel the exam.

For Online Music Theory exams and any paper based exams taking place outside of the UK/Ireland we anticipate COVID restrictions will not prevent candidates from sitting their exam so absentee candidates will not automatically receive a refund and our normal Withdrawal, Non-attendance and Fee Refunds Policy still applies.

Performance Grade booking

We will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check here for dates and fees.

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.

What are the benefits of learning scales and arpeggios?

Learning scales and arpeggios helps you to develop reliable muscle memory for common finger movements and improves your tone control across the full note range.

It helps you to develop your pitch and interval awareness, and become familiar with keys and their related patterns. It also helps to build an understanding of keys, giving you confidence when sight-reading, learning new pieces and performing.

You can develop many aspects of technique through scales practice, including:

  • Familiarity with the physicality of your instrument or voice
  • Articulation
  • Tone
  • Intonation
Video: Piano Grade 5 scales and arpeggios

What happens in the exam?

All scales and arpeggios are played from memory in the exam. Examiners will usually ask for at least one type of scale/arpeggio required at each grade and aim to hear a balance of the articulation requirements. Details of scales and arpeggios requirements for each grade can be found in the syllabus for your instrument.

Supporting resources

Scales and Arpeggios books are available for every instrument at every grade, which you might find useful when preparing. However, your scales and arpeggios must be performed by memory in the exam.

You can purchase these books from our online shop or from your local retailer. For Piano and Violin exams Grades 1–5, see our Scales Trainer app.

Marking

Download the marking criteria for scales and arpeggios.

Marking principles

In each element of the exam, ABRSM operates the principle of marking from the required pass mark positively or negatively, rather than awarding marks by deduction from the maximum or addition from zero.

All instruments (Singing not included) Grades 1–8:

Mark

Scales and arpeggios

Distinction
19–21

  • Highly accurate notes/pitch
  • Fluent and rhythmic
  • Musically shaped
  • Confident response

Merit
17–18

  • Largely accurate notes/pitch
  • Mostly regular flow
  • Mainly even tone
  • Secure response

Pass
14-16

  • Generally correct notes/pitch, despite errors
  • Continuity generally maintained
  • Generally reliable tone
  • Cautious response

Below Pass
11-13

  • Frequent errors in notes and/or pitch
  • Lacking continuity and/or some items incomplete
  • Unreliable tone
  • Uncertain response and/or some items not attempted

7-10

  • Very approximate notes and/or pitch
  • Sporadic and/or frequently incomplete
  • Serious lack of tonal control
  • Very uncertain response and/or several items not attempted

0

  • No work offered

Scales Trainer

Piano Scales Trainer

Piano Scales Trainer helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

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