Latest exam updates

Practical Session 2 Update – Italy

We appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected learners and we’re working hard on solutions to ensure they can gain their qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

Provided travel and COVID restrictions remain lifted, we will open a booking period from 11 September – 25 September with exams to be held November - December. We will continue to keep this under review as our ability to accept bookings remains conditional on the restrictions continuing to be lifted. An update to Applicants will be announced as soon as we can and our Representatives will provide further guidance in due course. We are looking forward to providing candidates with exams again and thank you for your loyalty and support at this difficult time.

Preparing for an exam

Grades 1 to 5

For online exams from 2020, where available.

The following information does not apply to any paper-based exams at Grades 1 to 5, as these exam will still use the ‘from 2018’ Music Theory syllabus.

The core understanding candidates need to take an exam is staying the same and our existing books and resources still provide valuable preparation material. These include: Music Theory in Practice, Past Papers and Model Answers, the AB Guide to Music Theory and First Steps in Music Theory as well our music theory app.

Free Sample Papers and Model Answers

It’s important that candidates are familiar with the different style of exam questions they will be answering. To help, free Sample Papers and Model Answers – one set for each grade – are available.

Other resources

Grade 5 Cadence Question Examples from 2020

Updated Terms and Signs for Grades 1 to 5 from 2020 

Try our updated Terms and Signs Quiz for Grades 1 to 5

Step by step guide to the new online Music Theory exams

Video demos taking candidates through the exam process


Online practice questions

All candidates who have been entered for an online Music Theory exam will have the opportunity to log in to the online exam platform to find out what it will be like on the day and practise some example questions.

Several Grade 5 example questions in the online format are now available. These sample questions are designed to show the different question types included in the new exam. The questions in this online format do not show the full functionality that will be available in the exam as they do not allow candidates to use the zoom function. This exam demo video shows how this function will work in the exam.

Candidates will also have the opportunity to test the full functionality within the online platform after they have registered for the exam.

We also have a reference sheet available which contains the exact sample question content you will see on the online system in a pdf format.


New books and resources – coming soon

On 8 October we are publishing Discovering Music Theory. A new series of graded workbooks and corresponding answer books that offer all-round preparation for our new Music Theory exams at Grades 1 to 5.

These full-colour workbooks contain progressive exercises interspersed with timely explanations, tips and reminders, enabling learners to build up knowledge and understanding of music theory step by step. 

Take a look inside these new books:

You can use these books to prepare for online exams at these grades from November 2020 onwards (where online exams are available).

We are also publishing Music Theory Sample Papers and Music Theory Sample Model Answers for the new style of exams at Grades 1 to 5. These resources are also available to pre-order now, and will be released on 8 October.

More information can be found on ABRSM’s shop.

Key Documents

How to book an online Music Theory exam

Download (PDF)

Running Online Theory exams as a Private Visit and for Multiple Candidates

Download (PDF)

Syllabus summary for Grades 1 to 5 (online exams from 2020)

Download (PDF)

Online Music Theory Exam Guidelines

Free Sample Papers and Model Answers (online exams from 2020) for Grades 1 to 5:

Grade 1

Sample Paper (PDF)

Model Answers (PDF)

Grade 2

Sample Paper (PDF)

Model Answers (PDF)

Grade 3

Sample Paper (PDF)

Model Answers (PDF)

Grade 4

Sample Paper (PDF)

Model Answers (PDF)

Grade 5

Sample Paper (PDF)

Model Answers (PDF)

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