ABRSM vs Trinity vs LCM vs Rockschool
COMPARISON BETWEEN DIFFERENT MUSIC EXAMINATION BOARDS

ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
Homepage: (https://gb.abrsm.org/en/home)
Origin: London, England | Founded: 1889
The Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music is the largest body of music education, music publishing and the world’s leading provider of music exams based in the UK. This comes as no surprise, as they offer and provide the necessary resources to encourage the learning and development of music. Music exams that are available are graded along with assessments that are undertaken to fully unlock the potential of students and learners. In Singapore, usually when people say they have achieved a certain grade in a certain instrument, it usually refers to ABRSM. ABRSM is technically not a school but an examination board, similar to GCE ‘O’ Levels which is awarded by Cambridge based in the UK.
Traditional Focus
ABRSM is known for western classical music exams. The most popular and recognized exams or certificate so to speak would be for the piano, which they labelled as just piano without any distinction between classical piano or contemporary piano. Because in their definition, playing music from various time periods well, ranging from baroque to 20th century, should adequately prepare you well to play other genres of music and thus there is no need for a separate exam for other kinds of music. That said, the music pieces for their examinations will largely consist of classical pieces from the baroque to romantic period with a few to choose from from the 20th century.
For comparison purposes, we will use piano as the primary example for examination details.
  • Piano
  • Music theory
  • Bowed strings
  • Woodwind
  • Brass
  • Harp
  • Singing
  • Guitar
  • Organ
  • Percussion
  • Harpsichord
  • Musical theatre (grade 1-3)

The exam pieces will be launched/announced once per year. There will usually be 3 different sessions (periods) to register for your exams. The registration period is around 3-4 months before the exam dates. For example, if your exam date is in September, you have to register around April to May.

2019 Practical exams
1st session

Register within: 22nd October – 2nd November 2018

Exam dates: 25 February – 29 March 2019 (subject to minor changes)

2nd session

Register within: 4th – 15th March 2019

Exam dates: 2nd July – 2nd Aug 2019 (subject to minor changes)

3rd session

Register within: 22nd April – 3rd May 2019

Exam dates: 26th Aug – 27th September 2019 (subject to minor changes)

2019 Theory exams
1st session

Register within: 26 Nov – 7 Dec 2018

Exam dates: Sat 23 March 2019

2nd session

Register within: 17 June – 28 June 2019

Exam dates: Saturday 5 October 2019

The examination fees for practical:
Grade 1 — 204 SGD
Grade 2 — 245 SGD
Grade 3 — 265 SGD
Grade 4 — 286 SGD
Grade 5 — 296 SGD
Grade 6 — 377 SGD
Grade 7 — 428 SGD
Grade 8 — 510 SGD
The examination fees for theory:
Grade 1 — 112 SGD
Grade 2 — 122 SGD
Grade 3 — 133 SGD
Grade 4 — 153 SGD
Grade 5 — 163 SGD
Grade 6 — 184 SGD
Grade 7 — 194 SGD
Grade 8 — 204 SGD
The approximate duration of the practical examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 12 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 15 minutes
Grade 6 — 20 minutes
Grade 7 — 25 minutes
Grade 8 — 30 minutes
The approximate duration of the theory examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 90 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 120 minutes
Grade 6-8 — 180 minutes
The elements of the exam are as follows:
Exam piece: 1 — 30 marks Exam piece: 2 — 30 marks Exam piece: 3 — 30 marks
Scales and arpeggios/broken chords — 21 marks
Sight-reading — 21 marks Aural tests — 18 marks
Total marks — 150
Out of 150 marks, you require 100 to pass, 120 for merit, and 130 for distinction. There is no need to pass every section in the exam. Meaning to say, you can flunk your aural test totally (having no ability to improvise or identify notes/chords) and still score a distinction if you scored full marks for every other section. Since 30 marks is allocated for each of the 3 exam pieces, which makes up about 60% of the total marks, it is clear that their emphasis would be to play the pieces well enough to convince the examiners, rather to work on any sort of ear training or improvisation, since the aural section only takes up about 12% of the total marks (which under the assumption that passing the exams will be the only priority). To begin, you are required to purchase the latest official publications issued by ABRSM. Unauthorised copies are not allowed. You might even be barred from examinations should the examiners have evidence against you from making illegal copies. The performance of your exam pieces are generally assessed by 5 of these points:
1) Pitch
Basically how many notes you have played accurately. Pay attention to sharps and flats.
2) Time
Basically how stable is your tempo throughout the song and also if you did all of the ritardandos and accelerandos (and etc.) as intended by the composer of the piece.
3) Tone
Basically means the quality of the piano sound that you deliver. Because a piano is rather all a stringed instrument, how each note is being played, from hitting the key to engaging the hammers to hit onto the strings and bounces back and etc, produces a unique tone. Simply, 2 pianist can play the exact same piece with the same piano and produce 2 different sound, almost like 2 different piano models.
4) Shape
Basically means the musical phrasing, which involves articulations. Articulation marks include slur, accent, staccato, legato, etc. Simply, a robot playing the piano will probably have zero musical phrasing if every single note is treated equally with no human touch.
5) Performance
Basically refers to your overall performance as a player when you perform. Is there a character and style to your playing? Or do you often make mistakes and have troubles continuing from where you slipped? Apart from your examination pieces, you also will be tested on scales and arpeggios, sight reading, and aural tests. The scales and arpeggios section is quite straight forward. You basically play as per according to what the syllabus for your grade requires you to, which is all printed in the publications and you have more than enough time to memorise and practise them. Articulation will be specified by the examiner on the day of the exams, meaning for example, the examiner may decide that you play the scales or arpeggios in staccato and you are obligated to do so on the fly. Sight reading will be a challenge for those who only choose to memorize notes for life. You will be given about 30 seconds or so to look through a short piece of music before you attempt to play it. For preparation sake, you may buy the Specimen Sight-Reading publications by ABRSM which gives insights to what you should be expecting. The least ‘worrying’ would be the aural tests, which takes up the least percentage of marks. You will be require to sing or play from memory a short phrase which the examiner will play during the exams, together with identifying notes or chords, key changes, intervals, etc. The easier grades will require you to do some clapping along with rhythmic lines.
The elements of the exam are as follows:
Exam piece: 1 — 30 marks Exam piece: 2 — 30 marks Exam piece: 3 — 30 marks
Scales and arpeggios/broken chords — 21 marks
Sight-reading — 21 marks Aural tests — 18 marks
Total marks — 150
Out of 150 marks, you require 100 to pass, 120 for merit, and 130 for distinction. There is no need to pass every section in the exam. Meaning to say, you can flunk your aural test totally (having no ability to improvise or identify notes/chords) and still score a distinction if you scored full marks for every other section. Since 30 marks is allocated for each of the 3 exam pieces, which makes up about 60% of the total marks, it is clear that their emphasis would be to play the pieces well enough to convince the examiners, rather to work on any sort of ear training or improvisation, since the aural section only takes up about 12% of the total marks (which under the assumption that passing the exams will be the only priority). To begin, you are required to purchase the latest official publications issued by ABRSM. Unauthorised copies are not allowed. You might even be barred from examinations should the examiners have evidence against you from making illegal copies. The performance of your exam pieces are generally assessed by 5 of these points:
1) Pitch
Basically how many notes you have played accurately. Pay attention to sharps and flats.
2) Time
Basically how stable is your tempo throughout the song and also if you did all of the ritardandos and accelerandos (and etc.) as intended by the composer of the piece.
3) Tone
Basically means the quality of the piano sound that you deliver. Because a piano is rather all a stringed instrument, how each note is being played, from hitting the key to engaging the hammers to hit onto the strings and bounces back and etc, produces a unique tone. Simply, 2 pianist can play the exact same piece with the same piano and produce 2 different sound, almost like 2 different piano models.
4) Shape
Basically means the musical phrasing, which involves articulations. Articulation marks include slur, accent, staccato, legato, etc. Simply, a robot playing the piano will probably have zero musical phrasing if every single note is treated equally with no human touch.
5) Performance
Basically refers to your overall performance as a player when you perform. Is there a character and style to your playing? Or do you often make mistakes and have troubles continuing from where you slipped?

Apart from your examination pieces, you also will be tested on scales and arpeggios, sight reading, and aural tests.

The scales and arpeggios section is quite straight forward. You basically play as per according to what the syllabus for your grade requires you to, which is all printed in the publications and you have more than enough time to memorise and practise them. Articulation will be specified by the examiner on the day of the exams, meaning for example, the examiner may decide that you play the scales or arpeggios in staccato and you are obligated to do so on the fly.

Sight reading will be a challenge for those who only choose to memorize notes for life. You will be given about 30 seconds or so to look through a short piece of music before you attempt to play it. For preparation sake, you may buy the Specimen Sight-Reading publications by ABRSM which gives insights to what you should be expecting.

The least ‘worrying’ would be the aural tests, which takes up the least percentage of marks. You will be require to sing or play from memory a short phrase which the examiner will play during the exams, together with identifying notes or chords, key changes, intervals, etc. The easier grades will require you to do some clapping along with rhythmic lines.

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference. For the most up to date and latest information, please refer to your local representative.
Singapore ABRSM Representative
Website: https://sg.abrsm.org/en/home
Singapore Symphony Group
ABRSM Representative Office – Singapore
Address: 80 Bencoolen Street, Level 8, NAFA Campus One Tower Block, Singapore 189655
Trinity College London
Homepage: (https://www.trinitycollege.com)
Origin: London, England | Founded: 1877

Trinity College London is also a leading music college based in the UK, and arguably the oldest, founded in the earliest days in 1877. It is also an international exam board that offers graded music exams and music assessments for students. Unlike ABRSM and LCM, Trinity (short for Trinity College London) is more diversified, providing examinations not only for classical and contemporary music, but also for other performing arts such as dance, drama, speech and English language in particular. They are also officially recognised by Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation based in England.

Wide range of musical styles
Trinity’s diverse academic background on the various performance arts seems to have effect on the exam music pieces available. Compared to the other popular music examination boards, Trinity is known to have the more interesting and diverse exam music choices available for the student. Instead of the same ol’ classic and overplayed pieces, Trinity has more modern pieces and even ones from lesser known composers.
If you are into popular music, Trinity has a rock and pop graded exams for various instruments such as the keyboard (piano), guitar, vocals, and more.
For comparison purposes, we will use piano as the primary example for examination details.
  • Piano
  • Singing
  • Music theory
  • Guitar
  • Keyboard
  • Percussion
  • Strings and Harp
  • Woodwind
  • Others

The exam pieces will be launched/announced once per year. There will usually be 2 different sessions for your exams, which they named them as the mid-year and year end. The closing date for each of these season is usually 2-3 months.

2019 Practical exams
Mid-year session Registration period: 21st Jan 2019 – 1st March 2019
Exam dates: May – June 2019 Year-end session Registration period: 15th July 2019 – 30th Aug 2019
Exam dates: Nov – Dec 2019
2019 Theory exams
Mid-year session Registration period: 21st Jan 2019 – 1st March 2019
Exam dates: May – June 2019 Year-end session Registration period: 2nd Nov 2019
Exam dates: Nov – Dec 2019
The examination fees for practical:
Grade 1 — 181 SGD
Grade 2 — 220 SGD
Grade 3 — 247 SGD
Grade 4 — 276 SGD
Grade 5 — 295 SGD
Grade 6 — 337 SGD
Grade 7 — 387 SGD
Grade 8 — 454 SGD
The examination fees for theory:
Grade 1 — 97 SGD
Grade 2 — 97 SGD
Grade 3 — 110 SGD
Grade 4 — 119 SGD
Grade 5 — 132 SGD
Grade 6 — 146 SGD
Grade 7 — 174 SGD
Grade 8 — 202 SGD
The approximate duration of the practical examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 12 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 16 minutes
Grade 6 — 22 minutes
Grade 7 — 22 minutes
Grade 8 — 27 minutes
The approximate duration of the theory examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 90 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 120 minutes
Grade 6-8 — 180 minutes
There is no need to join a music school to take the exams, meaning you can register and take the exams as a private candidate. There is no age requirement or limit as well. There is no need to pass the lower grades before going to higher grades.
The elements of the exam are as follows:
Exam piece: 1 — 22 marks
Exam piece: 2 — 22 marks
Exam piece: 3 — 22 marks

Scales and arpeggios/broken chords (technical work) — 14 marks
Sight-reading, aural, and improvisation — 20 marks

Total marks — 100

Out of 100 marks, you require 60 to pass, 75 for merit, and 87 for distinction.

There is no need to pass every section in the exam. Meaning to say, you can flunk your aural test totally (having no ability to improvise or identify notes/chords) and still score a distinction if you scored full marks for every other section.

Since 22 marks is allocated for each of the 3 exam pieces, which makes up about 66% of the total marks, it is clear that their emphasis would be to play the pieces well enough to convince the examiners, rather to work on any sort of ear training or improvisation, since the aural section only takes up about 20% of the total marks (which under the assumption that passing the exams will be the only priority).

To begin, you are required to purchase the latest official publications issued by Trinity College London. Unauthorised copies are not allowed. You might even be barred from examinations should the examiners have evidence against you from making illegal copies.

Out of the examination 3 pieces, you can choose to perform an original composition as one of the pieces, which is something none of the other examination boards would allow. The compositions however have to be technically challenging that is suited for the grade you will be tested on.

The performance of your exam pieces are generally assessed by 5 of these points:

1) Pitch

Basically how many notes you have played accurately. Pay attention to sharps and flats.

2) Time

Basically how stable is your tempo throughout the song and also if you did all of the ritardandos and accelerandos (and etc.) as intended by the composer of the piece.

3) Tone

Basically means the quality of the piano sound that you deliver. Because a piano is rather all a stringed instrument, how each note is being played, from hitting the key to engaging the hammers to hit onto the strings and bounces back and etc, produces a unique tone. Simply, 2 pianist can play the exact same piece with the same piano and produce 2 different sound, almost like 2 different piano models.

4) Shape

Basically means the musical phrasing, which involves articulations. Articulation marks include slur, accent, staccato, legato, etc. Simply, a robot playing the piano will probably have zero musical phrasing if every single note is treated equally with no human touch.

5) Performance

Basically refers to your overall performance as a player when you perform. Is there a character and style to your playing? Or do you often make mistakes and have troubles continuing from where you slipped?

Apart from your examination pieces, you also will be tested on scales and arpeggios, which Trinity call ‘technical work’; along with sight reading, aural tests, and improvisation, which they call ‘supporting tests’.

The scales and arpeggios section is quite straight forward. You basically play as per according to what the syllabus for your grade requires you to, which is all printed in the publications and you have more than enough time to memorise and practise them. Apart from that, you will also have ‘exercises’, which is unique only to Trinity College London. You will prepare 3 exercises from their publications, which you will be tested for tonality, co-ordination, finger independence and flexibility.

The supporting test component is typically separated into 3 sections: sight reading, aural and improvisation. Sight reading will be a challenge for those who only choose to memorise notes for life. You will be given about 30 seconds or so to look through a short piece of music that is appropriately 2 grades lower than the exam being taken. For the aural tests, you will be required to identify notes, intervals, modulations and etc. You will not be required to sing unlike the aural examinations for ABRSM. Lastly for improvisation wise, the examiner will play a single note melody (usually) with accompanying basic chord patterns while you will then be given 30 seconds to prepare and do a spontaneous improvisation over what the examiner had played.

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference. For the most up to date and latest information, please refer to your local representative.
Singapore Trinity College London Representative
Website: https://www.tcmexams.com/
Trinity Representative
Address: 80 Marine Parade Road, #03-08 Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269
LCM (London College of Music Examinations)  
Homepage: (https://lcme.uwl.ac.uk/)
Origin: London, England | Founded: 1887
The London College of Music is a specialised music and performing arts organisation, that offer graded and diploma qualifications in music. As the name suggests, it is an established college based in the UK, similar to ABRSM. The culture is somewhat different from ABRSM, focusing on other art forms apart from music, such as drama, communication and even radio & podcasting. The exams structure provided are also very complex and tailored to each faculty, without a typical template for all.
Wide range of exams subjects
Like Trinity, LCM has a wide and diverse instruments and exams to choose from. But LCM offers exams for more types of subjects subjects such as church music and radio podcasting.
For comparison purposes, we will use piano as the primary example for examination details.
  • Piano
  • Music theatre
  • Singing
  • Music theory
  • Keyboard
  • Drama
  • Guitar & Ukulele
  • Percussion
  • Strings & Harp
  • Woodwind
  • Irish Traditional Music
  • Brass
  • Jazz (includes most instruments)
Other exams provided:
  • Conducting
  • Church music
  • Composition
  • School music performance
  • Professional achievement
  • Radio & podcasting
  • Communication
  • Ensemble
  • Early learning
  • Stave house early childhood method

The exam pieces will be launched/announced once per year. There will usually be 3 different ‘seasons’ for your exams, which they named them as: spring, summer and winter. The closing date for each of these season is usually 3 months.

2019 Practical exams
Spring: March – April | register before 05 January 2019
Summer: July – August | register before 27 April 2019
Winter: November – December | register before 27 August 2019
2019 Theory exams
Summer: June 2019 | register before 15 April 2019
Winter: November 2019 | register before 8 October 2019
The examination fees for practical:
Grade 1 — £45, approximately 77.4 SGD
Grade 2 — £51, approximately 87.72 SGD
Grade 3 — £57, approximately 98.04 SGD
Grade 4 — £61, approximately 104.92 SGD
Grade 5 — £67, approximately 115.24 SGD
Grade 6 — £77, approximately 132.44 SGD
Grade 7 — £84, approximately 144.48 SGD
Grade 8 — £96, approximately 165.12 SGD
The examination fees for theory:
Grade 1 — £29, approximately 49.88 SGD
Grade 2 — £32, approximately 55.04 SGD
Grade 3 — £33, approximately 56.76 SGD
Grade 4 — £34, approximately 58.48 SGD
Grade 5 — £38, approximately 65.36 SGD
Grade 6 — £44, approximately 75.68 SGD
Grade 7 — £46, approximately 79.12 SGD
Grade 8 — £51, approximately 87.72 SGD

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference.

The approximate duration of the practical examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 12 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 15 minutes
Grade 6 — 20 minutes
Grade 7 — 25 minutes
Grade 8 — 30 minutes
The approximate duration of the theory examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 90 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 120 minutes
Grade 6-8 — 180 minutes
There is no need to join a music school to take the exams, meaning you can register and take the exams as a private candidate. There is no age requirement or limit as well. There is no need to pass the lower grades before going to higher grades.
The elements of the exam are as follows:
Exam piece: 1 — 20 marks
Exam piece: 2 — 20 marks
Exam piece: 3 — 20 marks

Scales and arpeggios/broken chords — 15 marks
Sight-reading — 10 marks

Aural tests — 8 marks
Discussion — 7 marks

Total marks — 100

Out of 100 marks, you require 65 to pass, 78 for merit, and 85 for distinction.

There is no need to pass every section in the exam. Meaning to say, you can both flunk your aural test totally (having no ability to improvise or identify notes/chords) and not say a single word during the discussion, and still score a distinction (assuming you scored full marks for every other section).

Since 20 marks is allocated for each of the 3 exam pieces, which makes up about 60% of the total marks, it is clear that their emphasis would be to play the pieces well enough to convince the examiners, rather to work on any sort of ear training or improvisation, since the aural section only takes up about 8% of the total marks (which under the assumption that passing the exams will be the only priority).

To begin, you are required to purchase the latest official publications issued by LCM. Their online store can be found here: https://lcmmusicshop.uwl.ac.uk/ Unauthorised copies are not allowed. You might even be barred from examinations should the examiners have evidence against you from making illegal copies.

LCM did not reveal to which music aspects are of higher priorities during the performance of your 3 exam pieces. However, it would be similar to other examination boards where factors such as tonality, musicianship, interpretation, phrasing and generally how accurate you are in playing.

Apart from your examination pieces, you also will be tested on scales and arpeggios, sight reading, aural tests, and discussion of music.

The scales and arpeggios section is quite straight forward. You basically play as per according to what the syllabus for your grade requires you to, which is all printed in the publications and you have more than enough time to memorise and practise them. Pay special attention to the articulation stated such as legato or staccato.

Sight reading will be a challenge for those who only choose to memorise notes for life. You will be given about 60 seconds or so to look through a short piece of music that is appropriately 2 grades lower than the exam being taken. During the 60 seconds of preparation, you are allowed to try parts of it which will not be taken in consideration to the sight reading performance.

The least ‘worrying’ would be the aural tests, which takes up the least percentage of marks. The aural component is typically separated into rhythm and pitch. You will be required to tap or clap along with rhythms, or identify time signatures or note values and etc. For pitch wise, you are required to identify notes, intervals, keys and etc. You will not be required to sing unlike the aural examinations for ABRSM.

For the discussion component, it is a rather interesting way of assessing through verbal communication without the use of the piano at all. It is almost like an interview to understand how much the applicant knows about music. Questions like, music history and genres or their approaches to how they learn their exam pieces. Some separate aural tests will be done such as to identify chords, tension and release and so on for the higher grades.

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference. For the most up to date and latest information, please refer to your local representative.
Singapore London College of Music Representative  
Address: 20 McCallum Street, #19-01 Tokio Marine Centre, Singapore 069046
Rockschool Ltd.
Homepage: (https://www.rslawards.com/rockschool)
Origin: London, England | Founded: 1991
Founded in 1991 and based in England, Rockschool Ltd. is a recognised institution that offers university level diploma and other graded qualifications particularly for contemporary music. Unlike the usual giants such as ABRSM, LCM, Trinity and Guildhall. Rockschool is a specialised school for Pop & Jazz that caters to students who does not want to go through the classical route and yet wishes to be officially certified by an examination board.
Contemporary focus  
Unlike the traditional focus of western classical music by ABRSM, Rockschool is catered for the modern musician playing modern styles of contemporary music.
For comparison purposes, we will use piano as the primary example for examination details.
  • Piano
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Electric guitar
  • Bass
  • Drums
  • Vocals
  • Piano
  • Keyboard
  • Ukulele
  • Music production
  • Music theory

The exam pieces will be launched/announced once per year. There will usually be 3 sessions to register for your exams. The registration period is around 2-3 months before the exam dates. For example, if your exam date is in June, you have to register around April to May.

2019 Practical exams

1st session
Over

2nd session
Register within: 15 April 2019
Exam dates: 10th June to 12 July 2019

3rd session
Register within: 11 Nov 2019
Exam dates: 18 Nov – 15 Dec 2019

The examination fees for practical:
Grade 1 — 190 SGD
Grade 2 — 225 SGD
Grade 3 — 250 SGD
Grade 4 — 270 SGD
Grade 5 — 295 SGD
Grade 6 — 340 SGD
Grade 7 — 370 SGD
Grade 8 — 410 SGD
The examination fees for theory:
Grade 1 — 105 SGD
Grade 2 — 115 SGD
Grade 3 — 125 SGD
Grade 4 — 135 SGD
Grade 5 — 150 SGD
Grade 6 — 170 SGD
Grade 7 — 185 SGD
Grade 8 — 190 SGD
The approximate duration of the practical examinations:
Debut — 15 minutes
Grade 1 — 20 minutes
Grade 2 — 20 minutes
Grade 3 — 25 minutes
Grade 4 — 25 minutes
Grade 5 — 25 minutes
Grade 6 — 30 minutes
Grade 7 — 30 minutes
Grade 8 — 30 minutes
The approximate duration of the theory examinations:
Grade 1-3 — 90 minutes
Grade 4-5 — 120 minutes
Grade 6-8 — 180 minutes
There is no need to join a music school to take the exams, meaning you can register and take the exams as a private candidate. There is no age requirement or limit as well. There is no need to pass the lower grades before going to higher grades.
The elements of the exam are as follows:
Exam piece: 1 — 20 marks
Exam piece: 2 — 20 marks
Exam piece: 3 — 20 marks

Technical test — 15 marks
Ear test — 10 marks

Sight reading and improvisation — 10 marks
General musicianship — 5 marks

Total marks — 100

Out of 100 marks, you require 60 to pass, 75 for merit, and 90 for distinction.

There is no need to pass every section in the exam. Meaning to say, you can flunk musicianship completely and still get a distinction.

Since 20 marks is allocated for each of the 3 exam pieces, which makes up about 60% of the total marks, it is clear that their emphasis would be to play the pieces well enough to convince the examiners, rather to work on any sort of ear training or improvisation, since the aural section only takes up about 15% of the total marks (which under the assumption that passing the exams will be the only priority).

To begin, you are required to purchase the latest official publications issued by Rockschool Ltd. Unauthorised copies are not allowed. You might even be barred from examinations should the examiners have evidence against you from making illegal copies.

The performance of your exam pieces are generally assessed by some of these points which include

  • Expression, articulation and dynamics
  • Continuity, note accuracy, music interpretation
  • Stylistic awareness and tonality
  • Tempo, rhythm and phrasing
  • Fingerings, hand shape, physical techniques, pedalling

Apart from your examination pieces, you will also be tested on technical exercises which include scales and arpeggios and chord voicings.

The scales and arpeggios section is quite straightforward. You basically play as per according to what the syllabus for your grade requires you to, which are all printed in the publications and you have more than enough time to memorise and practise them. You will also be tested on ‘voice-leading’ using the suitable chord inversions or voicings.

Sight reading will be a challenge for those who only choose to memorise notes for life. You will be given about 60 seconds or so to look through a short piece of music that is appropriately 2 grades lower than the exam being taken. During the 60 seconds of preparation, you are allowed to try parts of it which will not be taken in consideration to the sight reading performance.

For Aural test, the examiner will play a few bars on the piano and you will be asked to either identify either the notes, intervals or chords, or recall the notes on the piano without any form of improvisation.

The last section will be testing your general musicianship, which includes topics such as harmony, melody, scales, modes, rhythm, fingerings, genres, and etc.

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference. For the most up to date and latest information, please refer to your local representative.

All of the above info are taken from the year 2019. Please only use them as reference. For the most up to date and latest information, please refer to your local representative.
RS EVENT CENTER  
Website: https://www.rs-event.sg/
Email: singapore@rockschool.com.sg
Address: Blk 51 Old Airport Road #02-56, Singapore 390051
Phone: +65 6348 6100
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