Latest exam updates

Music Theory – updates and changes

4 weeks ago


Introducing Online Music Theory exams at Grades 1 to 5 from 2020 onwards

To provide a more candidate-friendly experience, we are pleased to announce that we will be moving the assessment of Music Theory at Grades 1 to 5 to an online exam.

We have been working on these developments for some time, but in response to the Covid-19 pandemic we have accelerated this work to ensure we are able to offer a safe assessment in line with government guidance.

When can I take an online Music Theory exam?

The first opportunity to take an online Music Theory exam varies across markets. The following markets will have online Music Theory exams for Grades 1 to 5 in November or December:

  •  UK, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, India, Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Malta

The roll-out of the new online Music Theory exams for all other markets will take place during 2021, with preparations being made during the rest of 2020. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to ensure paper-based Music Theory exams for Grades 1 to 8 go ahead in all international markets this year where they can do so safely.

Please check your Exam Date and Fees pages for the latest information. We will be uploading 2021 exam information on this page before the end of the year.

What is changing?

To support the format of these new online exams, we have updated some of the Grade 1 to 5 questions to bring them in line with a style of assessment commonly used across the education sector. Although the way in which you take your exam has changed, and some of the questions have been updated, we are still testing the same knowledge and understanding, to the same standards.

We have reflected these changes in our ‘from 2020’ Music Theory Syllabus.

  • These changes apply to online exams only from 2020 onwards, where they are available. 

You can find more information about these changes on our Online Theory pages, along with supporting materials and news of further resources: abrsm.org/onlinetheory 

Are there any changes at Grades 6-8?

Music Theory exams at Grades 6 to 8 will continue as paper-based assessments for everyone worldwide. There are no changes to the questions or syllabus for these grades. We will offer these exams when we can do this safely and in line with government guidance.

New resources to support the online exam

From 8 October, we will be publishing two new titles that provide all-round preparation for ABRSM Music Theory exams.

Developed with experts in the field, Discovering Music Theory includes five graded workbooks and corresponding answer books. These full-colour books are full of engaging and accessible exercises, tips, challenges and quizzes designed to build knowledge and understanding, step by step.

These new Music Theory Sample Papers and Model Answers are essential resources for candidates preparing for online exams. They fully support the online question types and they will help candidates understand what to expect in the exam.

Both new titles are available to pre-order.

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