Latest exam updates

Music Theory Exam update – session two

On the basis of government advice, we are cancelling the Music Theory exams due to take place later in 2020. We are sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your ongoing loyalty and support

What’s changed?

We have introduced modernised questions and assessment methods in some parts of the exam at Grades 1 to 5. We have also updated the design of the papers to ensure they are clear and easy to understand.

Revised exam papers will be used in all countries and are available now, with no overlap period. There are no changes to questions at Grades 6 to 8.

The main changes are:

  • Introducing multiple choice questions for musical terms and signs 
  • Updating questions to ensure they are clear and easy to understand. This includes:
    • Reducing the amount of information on the page for time signature questions (Grades 1 to 3)
    • Simplifying the layout of intervals questions (Grades 4 and 5)
    • Simplifying the layout for Grade 5, Question 7 (chords at cadence points), with candidates asked to describe chords only using roman numerals.
  • Removing rhythm-writing, melody-writing and word-setting questions, and the Grade 5 SATB short/open score question
  • Refreshing the design of all exam papers to ensure they are clear and easy to read (Grades 1 to 8)

Same syllabus and standards

The revised exam papers are based on our existing Music Theory syllabus and will continue to assess the same broad areas of music theory to the same standards.

The exams will still cover:

  • knowledge of western music notation, including common signs and terms
  • understanding of fundamental musical elements, such as intervals, keys, scales and chords

However from 2018, papers will not include rhythm-writing, word-setting, melody-writing or the Grade 5 SATB short/open score question.

Replacement questions

We are introducing a small number of additional questions to replace the current rhythm-writing, melody-writing and word-setting questions.

The replacement questions are based on existing question-types which focus on specific areas of theory knowledge. They are similar in style and format to questions in the current papers, so will feel familiar to teachers and candidates. Overall there will be far less copying out.

Read more on our blog

Penny Milsom, our Executive Director: Products & Services, writes about the revised exam papers and the importance of music theory on our blog.

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