Many music students like to take exams as a mark of their progress, and most music teachers offer the opportunity. There is a choice of examining board for students who are learning an instrument in the classical tradition. Some music teachers have a preference for a particular examination board's syllabus and do not enter their students for other boards' exams. Other music teachers use a mixture of examining boards according to the strengths of individual students.
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The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is an internationally renowned music examining board, with a presence in over 90 countries.
As well as graded exams from Grade 1-8, the ABSRM also offers a Prep Test, Music Medals and Performance Assessments, in addition to Practical Musicianship and Ensemble assessments.
In order to take the advanced graded exams (Grade 6+), students must have passed Grade 5 Music Theory, or alternatively Grade 5 Practical Musicianship or Jazz.
Trinity College London offers nine levels of graded music exams, from Initial to Grade 8. Their mark scheme awards a high proportion of the marks to musical performance, and the Technical Work tests are also focused on developing performance skills.
A section of the graded music exam allows candidates to choose between sightreading, aural, improvisation or musical knowledge.
Trinity College London also offers Music Certificate exams at three levels. These exams are focused solely on performance, with no assessment of Technical Work or Supporting Tests.
London College of Music exams are overseen by the University of West London. They offer a wide range of music exams and assessments:
- Early Learning, for children aged 3 to 6 years
- Steps, for Pre-Grade 1 students
- Grade exams, from Grade 1-8.
- Recital Grades, which are performance orientated.
- Leisure Play, which are a performance-only alternative to graded exams
- Performance Awards, which are assessed via DVD submission.
See Music Resources
for study aids for music examinations: