Music Theory Grades

Our Music Theory Grades assess a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the way music works. We believe that developing this knowledge and understanding helps musicians at all levels to perform with greater sensitivity, awareness and control.

What levels are available?

Exams are available at eight levels: Grades 1 to 8. 

What does the syllabus cover?

The syllabus covers the essential building blocks of music. This starts with the basics of rhythm and notes at Grades 1 to 5, then adds harmony and counterpoint, composition, and a broad knowledge of western music at Grades 6 to 8.

Grade 5 Music Theory: a prerequisite for Practical and Performance Grades 6 to 8

Candidates must pass Music Theory Grade 5 or above before taking a Practical or Performance Grade 6, 7 or 8. This is to make sure they have a good understanding of the elements of music, something that will prepare them for success at these higher grades. We also accept a Grade 5 pass in Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz subject.

Select a link below to find out more about Music Theory Grades and download a syllabus.

  • Assessed through an online exam
  • Marked out of 75: 50 marks to pass, 60 to pass with merit and 65 to pass with distinction

Read a summary of the syllabus for Grades 1 to 5

Download the Music Theory Grades 1 to 5 syllabus (PDF)

Read the Grade 1 to 5 marking criteria

Find out more about taking an online Music Theory exam

  • Assessed through a paper-based exam.
  • Marked out of 100 - 66 marks for a Pass, 80 for a Merit and 90 for a Distinction.

Read a summary of the syllabus for Grades 6 to 8

Download the Music Theory Grades 6 to 8 syllabus (PDF)

Read the Grade 6 to 8 marking criteria

Know what exam you want to book? Go straight to our online booking service.

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