Music Theory Exams

Music Theory is the study of the elements of music and how they interact to create the music that we love to listen to, play and sing.  Studying theory is also a good way in to composition for pupils who want to write and create their own music.

Pupils wishing to take grade 6+ practical or performance exams with ABRSM must have passed their grade 5 Music Theory exam.

The Musica Kirklees Theory Group offers excellent support for pupils working towards any level of Music Theory exam, or those just looking to expand their knowledge.

What are Music Theory Exams?

Unlike In Person or Digital Exams, Music Theory exams don't involve any singing, playing or listening to music.  Instead, pupils need to show their understanding of the principals of written music.  A knowledge of Music Theory helps singers and instrumentalists with all areas of their music making.

Early grades focus on essential understanding of rhythms and notation.  As pupils move up the grades, they will explore more complex ideas like composition, construction of harmonies and musical styles.

Exam Structure

ABRSM Theory Grades 1 - 5 and Trinity Theory Grades 1 - 8 are online exams:

  • Pupils must log into the online exam and select answers to a series of questions displayed on screen.
  • For these exams, pupils will need to use a computer with a webcam and sound to record themselves during the exam; this is to demonstrate to the exam board that they are answering the questions without assistance.
ABRSM Grades 6 - 8 are paper based exams.  Pupils will need to visit a ABRSM regional centre where they sit a formal written exam.  The closest regional centres to Kirklees are Sheffield, Manchester, Burnley and York.

Application Process

Music Theory exam applications can be made online via the exam board's website (please speak with your teacher before making any exam applications).  

ABRSM Music Theory

  • Grades 1 - 5 online exams are available to book at any time throughout the year
  • Grades 6+ written exams take place 3 times a year.  Application closing dates are well in advance of the exam date

Trinity Music Theory

  • Grades 1 - 8 online exams are available to book at any time throughout the year

Exam fees start at around £39+, plus a fee if you want a printed certificate, for grade 1 (2024) and go up incrementally with each grade.

Theory Exam Boards

ABRSM and Trinity are popular Music Theory Exam Boards

Find out more about exam boards >

Other Types of Exams and Assessments