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About our graded exams

Specifications for aural tests and improvisation tests are changing for all instruments. The changes apply to all exams taken from 1 January 2017 onwards.

See the supporting tests page for new test specifications and information about sample materials.

Please note that there is no overlap for supporting tests, and the previous aural tests and improvisation tests can therefore no longer be used.


Our graded music exams offer the choice and flexibility to allow candidates to play to their strengths, enabling them to gain recognition for their own unique skills as performers.


Our music exams:

  • Recognise that a flexible approach is best, prioritising candidates’ individual needs
  • Offer freedom of choice within assessments, enabling candidates to demonstrate their musicianship in the way that suits them best
  • Assess real-life skills that translate naturally from real music-making to the assessment
  • Assess skills that are specific to each discipline – the opposite of a one-size-fits-all assessment
  • Allow candidates to express their whole musical personalities through options to demonstrate creativity in different ways
  • Use diagnostic mark schemes where appropriate, offering precise and specific feedback to inform continued learning 


Exam structure

Performance is at the heart of Trinity’s graded music assessments as we believe that musicianship is most effectively demonstrated through practical performance.

  • Assessments are strongly performance based
  • Grade exams assess practical performance across repertoire, technical work and supporting tests
  • No theory prerequisites are required for any of Trinity’s performance-based assessments

Trinity College London practical graded exams are numbered from 1 to 8 in increasing order of difficulty. In many subjects, an Initial exam acts as an introduction to the exam system.

Candidates perform three (or sometimes four) pieces, and technical work featuring scales and arpeggios, exercises or orchestral extracts. They also choose two supporting tests from a selection including sight reading, aural, musical knowledge and improvising. Find out more about our supporting tests


Mark scheme and assessment criteria

See the syllabus for more information on the breakdown of marks for each section of our exams. View our full Assessment Criteria


Trinity College London is an awarding body recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) in England and Northern Ireland, and by Qualifications Wales. Trinity’s qualifications are regulated by these authorities within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Various arrangements are in place with government educational authorities worldwide.

In the UK, Trinity’s Grade 6-8 exams can contribute towards higher education through the allocation of UCAS points.

UCAS Points

The United Kingdom Universities’ and Colleges’ Admissions Service (UCAS) has confirmed the inclusion of Trinity College London grade music examinations (Grades 6-8) within the UCAS tariff system, which is open to any student applying for a course of study at a UK university or other higher education institution.

Please see this page for more information about UCAS points for music performance and theory.






Woodwind & Jazz Woodwind






Strings: Bowed Strings & Harp


Electronic Keyboard & Organ


Guitar: Classical & Plectrum


Theory of Music



Enter for an exam

To enter for an exam, download an entry form and send it with the full fee to your local representative. Find out more and enter for an exam

Register your interest

To be kept up to date with news about our syllabuses, publications and professional development programmes, as well as competitions and offers, register your interest.


You should read the syllabus requirements carefully before your exam. If you do not meet all the relevant requirements, the examiner may refer your exam result to Trinity’s London office for review and marks may be deducted.

Please see Information and Regulations and Syllabus infringements for more information.




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