Latest exam updates

Practical Update 

We appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected learners and we are working hard on solutions to ensure learners can gain their qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

However, on the basis of official and local advice due to COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all Practical exams in Macau until further notice. This decision affects all 2020 bookings for Graded Music Exams, ARSM, Diploma, Choral Singing and Ensemble exams, but does not currently affect any bookings for Music Theory exams. Following this decision, we will process 100% refunds for all existing Practical exam bookings and our Representatives will provide further guidance in due course.

We are sorry for the impact on teachers and candidates and thank you for your loyalty and support while these restrictions remain in place. We are continuing to review when live Practical exams can resume in Macau and will offer them again at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our new remotely-assessed Performance Grades provide an alternative progression route for students during this period of disruption. The Performance Grades are equivalent to our Practical Grades in demand, recognition and value. They are based on the same repertoire and syllabuses, assessment criteria and quality assurance measures as our existing exams and will be assessed by the same highly trained examiners. Booking will open in Macau before the end of the year and you can record your video submission any time from now on. Find out more here.

Who are we?

ABRSM is the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music. We are a charity committed to supporting and inspiring people to progress with music. We support high-quality music-making and learning around the world.

Together with our partners, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, ABRSM sets standards in music education.

Royal Schools

We encourage students to build skills, knowledge and understanding incrementally to help them unlock their musical potential, whatever their background and whatever part they wish music to play in their lives.

We want everyone to be able to develop musical skills and fulfil their potential with music. We believe that access to high-quality, progressive music learning is the right of everyone.


Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams and assess the standard of a candidate’s ‘musical ear’. The examiner will deliver each test following a set of spoken words and instructions. Each test will require either a spoken, sung or clapped response.

The speed and accuracy with which candidates respond to the aural tests can tell the examiner a lot about the candidate’s musical make-up and help to form an overall picture of the candidate’s abilities.

The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is the object. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).

All candidates take the same group of tests. These are carefully graded from basic recognition of rhythm and memory of short phrases to tests demanding well-developed aural perception and discrimination. The pass mark is 12; the maximum mark is 18.

 GradeTest ATest BTest CTest D
Grade 6
key-chord G minor, starting note G
Music (PDF)
Grade 7
key-chord G major, starting note G
Music (PDF)
(i and ii)

Grade 8
key-chord C minor, starting note C

for transposing instruments:
in Bb: key-chord D minor, starting note D
in F: key-chord G minor, starting note G
in Eb: key-chord A minor, starting note A
Music (PDF)
Piece description (PDF)

Grades 1-8


Aural tests


  • Accurate throughout
  • Musically perceptive
  • Confident response


  • Strengths significantly outweigh weaknesses
  • Musically aware
  • Secure response


  • Strengths just outweigh weaknesses
  • Cautious response

Below Pass

  • Weaknesses outweigh strengths
  • Uncertain response


  • Inaccuracy throughout
  • Vague response


  • No work offered



ABRSM Aural Trainer contains interactive challenges to help develop your music aural skills (listening skills). Anyone can use it, but it is designed around the components of ABRSM aural tests for Grades 6 to 8. The app can be used in any order, however often you like, on your own or with your teacher.

If you require any support or guidance with Aural Trainer 1-5, please visit the following page for further guidance on its functions and features:

If you still require assistance with a problem, or if you have any suggestions for improvements or developments, please contact the Aural Trainer support team by completing the following form below:


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