ABRSM Marking Scheme

Exam Sections


ABRSM Marking SchemeThere are a total of 8 grades in ABRSM graded piano exam. In each grade, the exam consists of 4 major parts which are as follow:


1. Scales and arpeggios

Candidates need to play the required scales and arpeggios from memory. Examiner may pick the scales randomly and candidate’s response, speed and fluency will be judged. Usually, at least 1 question will be tested from each type of scales or arpeggios. 21 marks are allocated for this section.


2. Exam Pieces

Candidates are required to play 3 exam pieces chosen from the ABRSM exam syllabus. From list A, B and C, candidates need to choose 1 piece from each list. Each piece are allocated 30 marks respectively.


3. Sight Reading

Candidates will be given a piece of sheet music which is never seen previously. 30 seconds are provided for the candidate to prepare or try out any parts of the music before the test starts. 21 marks are allocated for this section.


4. Aural Tests

18 marks are allocated for aural tests. The tests questions varied according to grades and the detail can be found in ABRSM exam syllabus.


Passing Marks

Passing Marks for ABRSM Piano Exam

The total marks of the exam are 150 marks. To pass the exam, candidates need to obtain at least 100 marks in total. To pass with Merit, candidates need to achieve a total mark of 120 while to pass with Distinction, candidates need to achieve a total mark of 130. Although there is a passing mark in each individual section, it is not necessary for candidates to pass all sections to get an overall pass. The passing mark for each sections are presented in the table below:


Exam Section Passing Mark
Pieces 20/30
Scales & Arpeggios 14/21
Sight Reading 14/21
Aural Tests 12/18


For more detail about ABRSM piano exam marking scheme, please visit ABRSM website. Any doubt or questions feel free to leave me a comment below.

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  1. Hi,
    I am very happy to have discovered your website because I am an electronic music producer without any musical background.
    I play the keyboard and I am lucky to have a ‘good ear’ but to make melodies you need to know at least some basics so I got into learning scales, chords,…
    I got into it some time ago but I can surely need all the information out there 🙂

    1. Hi Angelique, welcome to MyJourneytoDistinction.com. Hope that you can find the information you need here. Do let me know if there is anything that I can help you.


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