In this post, let’s look at the format of the ABRSM Grade 3 Online Music Theory Exam in detail.
Seven sections of the ABRSM Grade 3 Online Music Theory exam
There are seven sections in the ABRSM grade 3 online music theory exam. They are:
Each section has a specific music theory concepts tested.
Marks and Passing Criteria for ABRSM Grade 3 Online Music Theory Exam
The seven sections of the ABRSM Grade 2 online music theory exam are worth 75 marks in total. To pass, students will need to score 50 out of 75.
Here are the criteria:
50 – 59: Pass
60- 64: Merit
65 and above: Distinction
Duration of the ABRSM Grade 3 Online Music Theory exam
The total duration of the exam is 90 minutes.
Section 1: Rhythm
Section 1 is a 15 marks section on rhythm. It is then divided into section 1.1 to 1.7.
Section 1.1: Time Signature
Section 1.1 consists of 3 questions. Hence, this section is worth 3 marks. In each question, you’ll need to determine the time signature for a bar of music written.
Section 1.2: Bar line
Section 1.2 consists of 5 questions. Hence, this section is worth 5 marks. Like question 1.1, this question is on time signatures, and students would need to put the bar line at the correct position.
Section 1.3: Note value
Section 1.3 consists of 1 questions. This section is worth 1 marks. The questions here test students on their knowledge of note values.
Section 1.4 Time Signature (compound vs simple time)
Section 1.4 consists of 1 question, that is worth 1 mark. In this question, students are asked questions on a time signature – whether it is simple or compound time.
Section 1.5: Grouping of notes
Section 1.5 consists of 1 question, and is worth 1 mark. Here, students are given 3 choices, and they are to select one where the notes are grouped correctly.
Section 1.6: Rests
Section 1.6 consists of 3 questions, and is worth 3 marks. Here, students are asked to determine whether the rests are correct. There are two things to check for in this section: whether the time value of the rest is correct, and whether the rest is grouped correctly.
Section 1.7: Double or half the note value
Section 1.7 consists of a single question worth 1 mark. Here, students are asked to rewrite a melody at twice or half its note value.
Section 2: Pitch
Section 2 is a 15 marks section.
In the pitch section, students are expected to be able to read notes on the music stave in treble and bass clef, and compare pitches (which pitch is higher or lower).
There are 4 parts in section 2, 2.1 to 2.4.
Section 2.1: Determine the name of each note
Section 2.1. consists of 6 questions and is worth 6 marks. In this section, students are asked to determine the correct name of each note.
Section 2.2: Pitch of 3 extracts
Section 2.2. consists of 3 true/false questions and is worth 3 marks. In this section, students are given 3 extracts, and they are asked whether they have the same pitch, or octave(s) higher or lower.
Section 2.3 Treble or bass clef
Section 2.3 is worth 3 marks and consist of 3 questions. In this section, students are given a note on music stave, and asked whether it should be treble or bass clef so as to obtain a required note.
Section 2.4 Writing a melody an octave higher or lower
Section 2.4 consist of 2 question and is worth 2 marks. In this section, students are given a melody, and asked to select a melody from 3 that is an octave higher or lower than the given melody.
Section 3: Keys and Scales
Section 3 is on keys and scales and is worth 15 marks. Section 3 is divided into 7 sections.
Section 3.1 and 3.2: Key signature
In section 3.1 and 3.2, students are asked to select the correct key signature for a given key. Section 3.1 and section 3.2 are worth 1 mark each.
Section 3.3: Accidentals
This section is worth 3 marks.
In section 3.3., students are given a piece of melody, and the key of the melody. They are then asked to determine which three notes in the melody are not correctly written.
Section 3.4: What key is the melody
This section is worth 3 marks, and consists of 3 questions.
In this section, students are given a short melody, and asked to determine the key of the melody.
Section 3.5: Which note is incorrect in the scale
In section 3.5, students are given a scale with 2 incorrect notes. They are to select the incorrect notes in the scale. This section is worth 2 marks.
Section 3.6 Fill in the missing note
In section 3.6, students are given a scale with 2 missing notes. They need to indicate what are the missing notes.
Section 3.7: Ascending or Descending Scale
Section 3.7 has 3 questions and is worth 3 marks.
In each question, students are given 3 choices, and they have to select the one is the correctly written scale for a given key.
Section 4: Intervals
In grade 3, students are tested on the intervals between notes (in terms of numbers), and the type of intervals (e.g. major, minor, perfect).
Section 4.1: Determine the interval
Section 4.1 consists of 6 questions and is worth 6 marks.
For each question, you’ll be given a pair of notes, and you’ll be asked the interval between the notes.
Section 4.2: Determine the interval type
Section 4.2 consists of 4 questions and is worth 4 marks.
For each question, you’ll be given a pair of notes, and you’ll be asked the type of interval between the notes (e.g. major, minor, perfect).
Section 5: Tonic Triads
This section is worth 10 marks, and is subdivided into 3 sections, section 5.1 to 5.3.
Section 5.1: Determine whether a given chord is the correct tonic triad
Section 5.1 consists of 2 questions. In each questions, a key and a chord are given. Students are asked whether the chord is the tonic triad of the key.
Section 5.2: Form the tonic triad
Section 5.2 consists of 3 questions, and is worth 3 marks. In each question, students are given 2 out of the 3 notes of the tonic triad, and they are required to write the missing note of the tonic triad.
Section 5.3: Key of the tonic triad
Section 5.3 consists of 5 questions, and is worth 5 marks. In each question, students are given a chord, and they are to determine which key it belongs to.
Section 6: Terms and Signs
There are 5 questions in this section, and This section is worth 5 marks. In each question, students are given an Italian term or a music sign, and they are required to determine the correct meaning of each term/ sign.
Section 7: Music in Context
There are 5 questions in this section on music in context, and this section is worth 5 marks.
Section 7.1 is a question that asks about pitch, and is very similar to question 2.2 of the pitch section.
In this section, students are given a piece of melody (usually about 8 bars long), and they are asked questions pitch, tempo, dynamics, keys, chords, intervals, terms and signs and so on.
The music theory exam is an online exam. Apart from knowing the concept, being familiar with how to answer the exam questions is also essential.
ABRSM provides a sample digital exam paper for each of their online theory exam. And I highly recommend my students to try them at least once before the actual exam.
The link to the grade 3 online practice exam can be found here.