Latest exam updates

Music Theory Exam on 7 November 2020

Given the recent spike in Covid cases and local lockdowns across Malaysia, we are now reviewing the feasibility of conducting the Theory Exam on 7 November 2020. You would have recently received an automated email with instructions about what to do on the exam day, but of course we are now having to review the status of the upcoming Theory Exam. We will update you again as soon as possible, but rest assured our priority will always be the safety of our candidates and exam staff.

Exam Refunds – Practical Session 1 & 2

We are currently working to issue refunds for all exams cancelled due to COVID-19.

For entries submitted online, all exam fees have been refunded to the original payment card and should be received by 14 September 2020. If you card has been replaced since you made the entry, the refund should be redirected to your new card automatically. If you have any queries in relation to this, please contact your card provider.

If you submitted a paper entry form to your State Education Department, you must submit a refund request to the Examinations Syndicate in Malaysia with complete documentation attached by 14 September 2020. Manual refunds may take between 1 to 2 months to process. Any queries relating to manual refunds should be sent to [email protected]. Thank you for your patience.

What are the benefits of learning scales and arpeggios?

Learning scales and arpeggios helps you to develop reliable muscle memory for common finger movements and improves your tone control across the full note range.

It helps you to develop your pitch and interval awareness, and become familiar with keys and their related patterns. It also helps to build an understanding of keys, giving you confidence when sight-reading, learning new pieces and performing.

You can develop many aspects of technique through scales practice, including:

  • Familiarity with the physicality of your instrument or voice
  • Articulation
  • Tone
  • Intonation
Video: Piano Grade 5 scales and arpeggios

What happens in the exam?

All scales and arpeggios are played from memory in the exam. Examiners will usually ask for at least one type of scale/arpeggio required at each grade and aim to hear a balance of the articulation requirements. Details of scales and arpeggios requirements for each grade can be found in the syllabus for your instrument.

Supporting resources

Scales and Arpeggios books are available for every instrument at every grade, which you might find useful when preparing. However, your scales and arpeggios must be performed by memory in the exam.

You can purchase these books from our online shop or from your local retailer. For Piano and Violin exams Grades 1–5, see our Scales Trainer app.

Marking

Download the marking criteria for scales and arpeggios.

Marking principles

In each element of the exam, ABRSM operates the principle of marking from the required pass mark positively or negatively, rather than awarding marks by deduction from the maximum or addition from zero.

All instruments (Singing not included) Grades 1–8:

Mark

Scales and arpeggios

Distinction
19–21

  • Highly accurate notes/pitch
  • Fluent and rhythmic
  • Musically shaped
  • Confident response

Merit
17–18

  • Largely accurate notes/pitch
  • Mostly regular flow
  • Mainly even tone
  • Secure response

Pass
14-16

  • Generally correct notes/pitch, despite errors
  • Continuity generally maintained
  • Generally reliable tone
  • Cautious response

Below Pass
11-13

  • Frequent errors in notes and/or pitch
  • Lacking continuity and/or some items incomplete
  • Unreliable tone
  • Uncertain response and/or some items not attempted

7-10

  • Very approximate notes and/or pitch
  • Sporadic and/or frequently incomplete
  • Serious lack of tonal control
  • Very uncertain response and/or several items not attempted

0

  • No work offered

Scales Trainer

Piano Scales Trainer

Piano Scales Trainer helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

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