What’s changing and when?

New Piano Syllabus 2021 & 2022 – available now!

  • A new Initial Grade for Piano, providing a pre-Grade 1 assessment that follows the same structure, content and marking criteria as our other graded music exams 
  • Completely revised repertoire lists and scales requirements (see below)
  • A revised list structure, with lists defined by musical characteristics rather than period of composition
  • More choice and variety of repertoire (30 pieces per grade)
  • A duet option from Initial Grade to Grade 3
  • A one-year overlap period, with the 2019 & 2020 syllabus valid until 31 December 2021. All pieces and scales must be from the same syllabus.

Sight-reading and aural test requirements remain the same as for the 2019 & 2020 syllabus.

Changes to Scales & arpeggios

Following extensive development work and valuable consultation with teachers, we have made changes to the requirements at every grade. The changes provide a more logical and gradual progression, from the new Initial Grade through to Grade 8. The revised requirements are fewer in number overall, making them more manageable for preparation and assessment, while still maintaining the rigour expected from ABRSM exams through focusing on tasks that are appropriate to each grade in their level of demand. Our Guide to the new requirements provides more detailed information about the rationale behind the changes and the underlying design of the requirements across the grades.

Find out more about our Piano Scales and arpeggios from 2021:

Syllabus validity

The new Piano syllabus comes into effect on 1 January 2021. This means that from this date:

  • Candidates can begin to present the pieces and scales requirements from the new syllabus;
  • Candidates can continue to present the pieces and scales requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus during the overlap period (see below);

Syllabus overlap

A one-year syllabus overlap period now applies to all countries – including the UK and Ireland. This means that even though the new syllabus comes into effect on 1 January 2021 a candidate can choose to present pieces and scales requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus in their exams up until 31 December 2021.

All three pieces and the scales requirements must be prepared from the same syllabus.

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