Quick Reference Guide to the ABRSM Music Theory Syllabus
The following table shows you which elements of music theory are introduced at each grade of the ABRSM syllabus.
This is intended to be a quick reference guide for teachers and students. For more information, consult the full ABRSM music theory syllabus.
The syllabus is cumulative, which means that at grade 2 music theory you also need to know all the material for grade 1 and so on. At grade 5, you need to know the material for all the previous grades.
At grade 6 and above, you need to know ALL the material in the table like the back of your hand - you are not tested much on the bare bones music theory, you are asked to put it into practice. For this reason, the table ends at grade 5.
For a printable version of this table, click here.
|Music Theory Grade
||Semibreve, minim, crotchet, quaver and semiquaver
||Treble and bass
||2/4, 3/4, 4/4
||2/2, 3/2, 4/2, 3/8
||6/8, 9/8, 12/8
||2/8, 4/8, 6/4, 9/4, 12/4
||5/4, 7/4, 5/8, 7/8
||C, G, D, F
||A, Bb, Eb, Am, Em, Dm
||E, Ab, Bm, F#m, Gm, Cm, C#m, Fm
||B, Db, G#m, Bbm
||F#, Gb, D#m, Ebm
||Minor harmonic & melodic
||4-bar rhythm which may start on an upbeat
||4-bar rhythm OR rhythm to fit words
||8-bar melody for instrument or voice (with lyrics)
||From treble to bass and vice versa
||From treble or bass to alto and vice versa
||From any clef to another at the octave, and to/from concert pitch for transposing instruments
||Above tonic by number
||Above tonic by number and type
||Any, up to a perfect octave, by name and number
|Dominant and sub-dominant triads
||Chords, supertonic triads/chords, 1st and 2nd inversion chords, cadences
||Ties, single dotted notes, sharps, flats, naturals, degrees of scale
||Double-dotted notes, duplets, double sharps and double flats, enharmonic equivalents, technical names of notes, ornaments
||Knowledge of main orchestral instruments & voices, writing in short/open score for SATB, cadences