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Supporting tests

In addition to performing pieces and technical work, candidates take two supporting tests. Parameters for each grade are outlined at the front of each syllabus. Please check these carefully when preparing for the exam.

We offer a number of resources to help teachers and candidates prepare for this section of the exam:



Aural tests in Trinity exams are based around a single musical extract played at the piano by the examiner, with candidates asked to describe various feature of the music such as dynamics, articulation, texture and style. Candidates are not required to sing.

Drum kit candidates can take an unpitched aural test – see our Percussion page.


Sight reading

This test assesses candidates’ ability to perform a previously unseen musical extract, at a level approximately two grades lower than the exam being taken. Sight reading is an option up to and including Grade 5, but compulsory from Grade 6 onwards.

  • Examples of sight reading tests for most instruments are available in the Sound at Sight These books are available to purchase from your local music retailer or from our online shop.
  • Harp sight reading examples can be downloaded from our resources site.



This test assesses candidates’ ability to improvise fluently, coherently and creatively in response to a musical stimulus. Candidates can choose between three types of improvisation stimulus: stylistic, harmonic or motivic. Untuned percussion candidates (drum kit, snare drum and timpani) can take a rhythmic improvisation test.


Musical knowledge

This test encourages learners to understand the wider musical context of the pieces they play, as well as their knowledge of notation and their instrument. Musical knowledge is available up to and including Grade 5. 



Looking for support with your music teaching and learning?

Visit Trinity’s Music Resources website

Access a range of digital resources, from videos and audio to handouts and booklets, providing support with teaching, music-making and exam preparation.

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