ABRSM grade five is one of the most popular music theory courses to study. A pass in grade five theory is needed if you want to take grade six or higher in any instrument with the ABRSM, so it’s often the grade many students begin with.

▶ Use the ABRSM menu for find lessons for this grade (on the right of this page on a computer, or scroll down on phones/tablets).

ABRSM Syllabus (Grade 5)

As in preceding grades, with the addition of:

  • Irregular time signatures and the grouping of notes and rests within these time signatures.
  • Irregular divisions of simple time values.
  • Tenor clef (C clef centred on 4th line). The identification of notes in the four clefs in any of the keys set for this grade (see below), and the transposition at the octave of a simple melody from any clef to another.
  • Transposition to concert pitch of a short melody notated for an instrument in Bb, A or F, and vice versa (the interval of transposition up or down will be given).
  • Scales and key signatures of all major and minor keys up to and including six sharps and flats.
  • All simple and compound intervals from any note.
  • The root position (a), 1st inversion (b) and 2nd inversion (c) forms of the tonic, supertonic, subdominant and dominant chords in any of the keys set for this grade.
  • The choice of suitable chords at cadential points of a simple melody in the major key of C, G, D or F.
  • Perfect, plagal and imperfect cadences in the major keys of C, G, D or F.
  • More terms and signs.
  • The recognition of ornaments, including the replacement of written-out ornamentation with the appropriate signs, but not vice versa.
  • Questions on the types of voice and names of instruments, the clefs they use, instrument family groups and the basic way by which they produce sound
  • Questions on general musical observation designed to test the candidate’s ability to apply theoretical knowledge to actual music.

Read the ABRSM syllabus here.