Changes to supporting tests for music grade exams

3 Jun 2016

  • Candidates taking music grade exams choose two supporting tests from four options: sight reading, aural, improvisation and musical knowledge.

  • Requirements for aural and improvisation are changing from January 2017 – see details below:


Trinity’s aural tests assess candidates’ skills in musical perception and understanding, using a single musical extract for all questions. Candidates are asked to describe various features of the extract such as dynamics, articulation, texture and style, and are not required to sing or memorise.

The updated tests retain the format and many features of the current tests, but a number of revisions have been made at all levels resulting in a clearer incremental progression of each topic through the grades.

Revised specifications are now available, detailing exactly what is required at each grade. The tests are supported by two new books containing sample tests, advice, explanations and sample answers. Each book contains two CDs.


Unique to Trinity’s exams, this option assesses candidates’ ability to improvise fluently and creatively in response to a musical stimulus.

One of the principal aims in revising the improvisation requirements has been to make the tests more musically authentic – testing real improvising skills. Three options will be available:

  • stylistic stimulus: an improvisation over a notated piano part played by the examiner
  • motivic stimulus: an unaccompanied improvisation in response to a short melodic fragment
  • harmonic stimulus: an unaccompanied improvisation in response to a chord sequence

Updated specifications are now available, in addition to example stimuli for all grades.


There is no overlap for supporting tests, so the current aural and improvisation tests cannot be offered after 31 December 2016. Sight reading and musical knowledge tests remain unchanged. 

Please visit the Supporting tests page for full details.

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