Rockschool

Learn Acoustic Guitar

Whether you’re taking your first steps on guitar or moving into further/higher education, a Rockschool Guitar Grade will not only improve your playing ability, but expand your technical proficiency and give you a solid grasp of music theory – all whilst learning some of the most iconic tracks from the world of popular music.

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Hand-Picked Popular Repertoire

For Acoustic Guitar we’ve hand-picked tunes from some of the world’s biggest artists across a diverse range of genres to provide students with an expansive song choice to use in their exam and for their own enjoyment.

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Acoustic Mastery

Rockschool Acoustic is designed for all types of aspiring guitar players. At each grade there are four session-style songs featuring recorded vocals, and two instrument-specific solo guitar arrangements.

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UCAS Points

Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grades carry huge rewards. For Grades 6, 7 and 8, you can enhance your university application, with up to 30 UCAS points awarded at Grade 8.

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Unrivalled Industry Relevance

As with every Rockschool syllabus, Acoustic Guitar combines unrivalled industry relevance with academic credibility, giving students a wealth of technical, stylistic and theoretical knowledge that’s second to none.

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Free Choice Pieces

In addition to the 6 pieces on offer in each of our grade books, students are also able to choose two Free Choice Pieces for their exam. The criteria for each grade can be found on our website.

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Digital Downloads

Instantly download your Acoustic Guitar book, individual tracks or supporting tests. The RSL shop allows student and instructor to use their favourite Rockschool titles on their desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Learn the Acoustic Guitar with Rockschool

Whether you’re learning to play the Acoustic Guitar or teaching the Acoustic Guitar, Rockschool is here to support your journey.

As with all of Rockschool’s recent releases, every grade features meticulously researched and benchmarked tracks from both trailblazing musicians and contemporary trendsetters, exposing each student to an array of genres, styles and instrument-specific techniques as they progress through each grade.

Rockschool Video Acoustic Guitar

How it works

Whether you’re learning the Acoustic Guitar independently or with a music teacher, it’s easy to get started learning with Rockschool.

01

Download the syllabus and buy your grade book

Our publications provide you with everything you need: professionally arranged and produced repertoire alongside innovative technical exercises and supporting tests.

02

Start practicing with our innovative resources

From our physical publications to our interactive e-books and Learning Platform app, our teaching and learning resources are here to support you become a better musician.

03

Sit the exam and reap your rewards

If you’re ready and want to take a Graded Music Exam, achieve your very own Rockschool qualification after putting in the hours of dedication towards mastering your instrument. 

Acoustic Guitar
Debut

The Debut Acoustic exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have developed elementary skills, techniques, co-ordination and musical understanding. There are two types of exam available at Debut, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

At Acoustic Guitar Debut you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Lumineers.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 14 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Debut book contains everything you need to pass your Debut exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists.

1

Acoustic Guitar Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Debut

Graded Music Exam: Debut

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The pieces from the grade book have been created to allow demonstration of suitable technical and performance elements appropriate for the level of qualification.

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Debut they are short, typically up to one minute in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  • Bill Withers - Ain’t No Sunshine
  • Jason Mraz - I’m Yours
  • The Lumineers – Ho Hey
  • The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
  • Ben E. King – Stand By Me

Technical Exercises

At Debut there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Chords and Acoustic Riff.

All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A needs to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group B is played as a continuous sequence, with each chord announced by the examiner.

Group C is played to a backing track.

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: 65bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes
Range: One octave

  • C major
  • E minor pentatonic
  • A minor pentatonic

GROUP B – Arpeggios/Broken Chords
Open position chords. Individual chords will be strummed once as directed by the examiner.

  • Major: A, D, C G
  • Minor: Am, Em

GROUP C – Acoustic Riff
The riff shown in bar 1 should be played in the same shape in bars 2–4. The root note of the pattern to be played is shown in the music in each of the subsequent three bars.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading

At Debut candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

  • Duration: 4 bars
  • Rhythms: Whole (semibreves), half (minims) and quarter (crotchets)
  • Key: C major
  • Pitches and Instrumental Compass: C&D on the second string
  • Tempo: q=65

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

Duration: 4 bars
Key: C major
Tempo: q=65
Improvisation Requirement: Diatonic single-note melodies only

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear two half notes one after the other and will be asked whether the second note is higher or lower in pitch than the first note.
The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in.
The tempo is q=85.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string.
The test will be played twice. Candidates will be asked to play the rhythm back, before identifying the rhythm from two printed examples shown to them by the examiner.
Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then need to play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is q=85.

Rhythmic Recall
The examiner will play you a two bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string. You will hear the test twice. You will be asked to play the rhythm back. You will then be asked to identify the rhythm from two printed examples shown to you.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about the candidate’s instrument.

Music Knowledge:

The examiner will ask the candidate four music knowledge questions based on a piece of performed in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

In Debut candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The music stave and the TAB
  • The treble clef
  • Half and quarter note values

Instrument Knowledge
The examiner will also ask candidates one question regarding their instrument.

In Debut candidates will be asked to identify:

  • One of the following parts of the guitar: neck, body, tuning-pegs or bridge

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Acoustic Guitar
Grade 1

The Grade 1 Acoustic exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for six months to one year. They have mastered the key basic debut level skills and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding.

There is also an opportunity to build on basic improvisation. There are two types of exam available at Grade 1, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Your exam will involve performance pieces from artists such as Bob Marley, Ed Sheeran & Jeff Buckley.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 17 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 1 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 1 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Bob Marley, Ed Sheeran & Jeff Buckley.

1

Acoustic Guitar Grade 1

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Grade 1

Graded Music Exam: Grade 1

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 1 they are short, typically one to one and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Come as You Are – Nirvana
  • Seven Nation Army – White Stripes
  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  • Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  • Titanium – Sunshine Superstars
  • Redemption Song – Bob Marley

Technical Exercises

At Grade 1 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Chords and Acoustic Riff
All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A needs to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group B power chords need to be played as a continuous sequence to a click. Major and minor chords are played as individual chords, each chord being announced by the
examiner.

Group C is played to a backing track.

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: q=70bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes
Range: One octave

  • C major
  • A natural minor
  • A minor pentatonic
  • G major pentatonic

GROUP B – Chords
Power chords. Two-note chords to be played in a continuous sequence
Tempo: q=70bpm

Rhythms: Quarter Notes

  • Power Chords: B5, A5, D5

Open position chords. Individual chords will be strummed once as directed by the examiner.

  • Major: A, D, C G
  • Minor: Am, Dm, Em

GROUP C – Acoustic Riff
The riff shown in bar 1 should be played in the same shape in bars 2–4. The root note of the pattern to be played is shown in the music in each of the subsequent three bars

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading

At Grade 1 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book

  • Tempo: q=70
  • Duration: 4 bars
  • Rhythms: Half notes (minims) and quarter notes (crotchets)
  • Key: A minor
  • Pitches: A – E: 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings
  • Instrumental compass: Open position to 3rd fret

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

  • Tempo: q=70-80
  • Duration: 4-6 bars
  • Key: C major or A minor
  • Improvisation Requirement: Rhythmic chords or melodic lead line (candidate choice)

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear three notes in sequence. The examiner will ask whether the notes are higher or lower (up or down) in sequence.
The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in. The tempo is q=85.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall
Candidates will hear a two bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string.
The test will be played twice. Candidates will be asked to play the rhythm back, before identifying the rhythm from two printed examples shown to them by the examiner.
Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then need to play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is q=90.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about the candidate’s instrument.

Music Knowledge

The examiner will ask candidates four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music performed in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

In Grade 1 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The treble clef
  • The time signature
  • Whole, half, quarter and eighth note values
  • The difference between a major and minor chord

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding the instrument. In Grade 1 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Two of the following parts of the guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut, bridge or sound hole
  • Names of the open strings

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Acoustic Guitar
Grade 2

At Acoustic Guitar Grade 2 you’ll begin learning the fundamental techniques you’ll need to develop a career as a skilled rock and pop guitarist.

You will be examined on your choice of performance pieces from artists such as Taylor Swift, Passenger and Otis Redding.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 17 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 2 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 2 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Taylor Swift, Passenger and Otis Redding.

1

Acoustic Guitar Grade 2

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Grade 2

Graded Music Exam: Grade 2

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Repub...

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 2 they are becoming longer, typically one to two minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga – Shallow
  • Taylor Swift – We Are Never Getting Back Together
  • Passenger – Let Her Go (simplified)
  • KT Tunstall – Other Side of the World
  • Otis Redding – Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay
  • R.E.M – Everybody Hurts

Technical Exercises

At Grade 2 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Chords and Acoustic Riff
All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A needs to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group B power chords need to be played as a continuous sequence to a click. Major & minor and major 7/minor 7 chords are played as individual chords, each announced by the examiner.

Group C is played to a backing track.

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: q=80bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes
Range: One octave

  • C major
  • G major
  • E natural minor
  • A natural minor
  • G minor pentatonic
  • G major pentatonic
  • C minor pentatonic
  • C major pentatonic

GROUP B – Chords
Power chords. Three-note chords to be played in a continuous sequence
Tempo: q=80bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes

  • Power Chords: E5, G5, A5, C5

Open position chords. Individual chords will be strummed once as directed by the examiner.

  • Major & minor: F, Bm
  • Major 7: A maj7, C maj7, D maj7
  • Minor 7: A min7, D min7, E min7

GROUP C – Acoustic Riff
The riff shown in bar 1-2 should be played in the same shape but transposed as shown in bars 3-8. The root note of the pattern to be played is shown in the subsequent bars.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading

At Grade 2 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book
Tempo: q=70

Duration: 4 bars
Rhythms: Quarter notes (crotchets) eighth notes (quavers) and rests

Key: G major or E natural minor
Pitches:

  • D, E, F# – 4th (D) string
  • G, A – 3rd (G) string
  • B, C, D – 2nd (B) string

Instrumental compass: Open/first/second position

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first play-through has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

Tempo: q=80-90
Duration: 4-6 bars
Key: G major or E minor

Improvisation Requirement: Rhythmic chords or melodic lead (candidate choice)

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar melody with a drum backing using the C minor pentatonic scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be ascending. Candidates will need to then play back the melody on their instrument.
The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in.
The tempo is q=90.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string.

The test will be played twice. Candidates will be asked to play the rhythm back, before identifying the rhythm from two printed examples shown to them by the examiner.
Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then need to play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is q=90.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about the candidate’s instrument.

Music Knowledge
The examiner will ask candidates four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music that they have played in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

In Grade 2 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The pitch name of notes
  • The meaning of the time signature marking
  • Whole, half, quarter, eighth and 16th note values
  • Rest values
  • The construction of a major or minor chord

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding the instrument. In Grade 2 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Three of the following parts of the guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut, bridge or soundhole
  • Names of all open strings

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Acoustic Guitar
Grade 3

The Grade 3 Acoustic exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for eighteen months to two years and who are ready to consolidate their final stage as a beginner player. The have mastered the key skills up to Grade 2 and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. Improvisation phrasing is now confident and articulate and candidates have started to develop the beginnings of stylistic awareness. There are two types of exam available at Grade 3, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

You will be examined on your choice of performance pieces from artists such as Kasey Musgraves, You Me at Six & David Bowie.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 27 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 20 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 3 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 3 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Kasey Musgraves, You Me at Six & David Bowie.

We have published 2 versions of this edition as shown in the pictures here; one version is more USA centric with some American English terms and background information referring billboard chart success rather than the UK charts. Please note that both versions of the book have everything you need for an exam and are both valid editions for when you enter for the assessment.

1

Acoustic Guitar Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Grade 3

Graded Music Exam: Grade 3

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 3 they are becoming longer, typically in the region of two minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Take on the World - You Me at Six
  • The Man Who Sold the World - David Bowie / Nirvana Unplugged
  • Weather With You - Crowded House
  • Landslide - Dixie Chicks
  • Wild Wood - Paul Weller
  • High Horse - Kasey Musgraves

Technical Exercises

At Grade 3 there are four groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios, Chords and Acoustic Riff.

All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A & B need to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group C is played as directed by the examiner.

Group D is played to the backing track.

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: 90 bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes
Range: Two octaves

To be prepared in the following keys: G, A & B:

  • Major
  • Natural minor
  • Minor pentatonic
  • Major pentatonic
  • Blues

GROUP B – Arpeggios
Tempo: 90 bpm
Rhythms: Quarter Notes
To be prepared in the following keys: G, A & B:

  • Major
  • Minor

GROUP C – Chords
Partial barre chords
Two partial barre voicings for each chord type – played as directed by the examiner.

  • Major minor: G, Am, Bm, C

Dominant 7 Chords
Individual chords will be strummed once and then picked (arpeggiated) – as directed by the examiner.

GROUP D – Acoustic Riff
The riff shown in bar 1-2 should be transposed and played as indicated in bars 3-8. The root note of the pattern to be played is shown in the subsequent bars.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading

At Grade 3 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book

Tempo: q =80
Duration: 4 bars
Rhythms: Quarter notes (crotchets) eighth notes (quavers), ties & rests
Key: G major or A natural minor – diatonic notes only
Compass: Open/first position/second position

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

Tempo: q=80-90
Duration: 4-6 bars
Key: G major or A minor

Improvisation Requirement: Rhythmic chords or melodic lead (candidate choice)
Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar melody with a drum backing using the G minor pentatonic scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be ascending. Candidates will need to then play back the melody on their instrument.
The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in. The tempo is q=85.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string.

The test will be played twice. Candidates will be asked to play the rhythm back, before identifying the rhythm from two printed examples shown to them by the examiner.
Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then need to play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is q=90.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about instrumental & technical knowledge.

Music Knowledge
The examiner will ask four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music played by the candidate in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.
In Grade 3 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Names of pitches
  • The meaning of the time signature marking
  • Whole, half, quarter, eighth, triplet eight-notes and 16th note values
  • Rest values
  • The construction of a dominant 7 chord

Instrument/Technical Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding the instrument/technical knowledge.
In Grade 3 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Three of the following parts of the guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut, bridge or sound hole
  • Two kinds of legato fretting hand technique
  • Names of all open strings

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Acoustic Guitar
Grade 4

The Grade 4 Acoustic exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for two to three years and who are ready for intermediate level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 3 and since acquired greater use of technique, more complex rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. Candidates will be developing a sense of expression and continuing to broaden their stylistic awareness, and there is also the opportunity to improvise which will be growing in assurance and articulation. There are two types of exam available at Grade 4, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

The Grade 4 exams will introduce you to a range of repertoire from Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Robert Johnson.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 27 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 24 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 4 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Robert Johnson.

1

Acoustic Guitar Grade 4

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Grade 4

Graded Music Exam: Grade 4

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 4 they are typically in the region of two to two and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Use Me – Bill Withers
  • Ironic – Alanis Morissette
  • Layla – Eric Clapton
  • Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Sweet Home Chicago – Robert Johnson

Technical Exercises

At Grade 4 there are four groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios, Chords and Acoustic Riff

All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.
Group A & B need to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group C 7th chords need to be played as a continuous sequence to a click. Major & minor full barre shapes are played as individual chords, each announced by the examiner.

Group D is played to the backing track

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: q=80 bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes
Range: Two octaves
Two fingerings, to be prepared in the following keys: A, Bb, B and C
Both fingerings must be prepared for each scale type and key

  • Major
  • Natural minor
  • Minor pentatonic
  • Major pentatonic
  • Blues

GROUP B – Arpeggios
Tempo: q=80 bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes
To be prepared in the following keys: A, Bb, B & C

  • Major 7
  • Minor 7
  • Dominant 7

GROUP C – Chords
Full barre chords

Individual chords will be strummed once and then picked (arpeggiated) – as directed by the examiner

  • 6th String root: A major, A minor
  • 5th string root: D major, D minor

7 Chords
Tempo: q=80 bpm
7th chords played as a continuous sequence to a click
A maj 7, A dom7, D maj 7, D dom7, Dm7, G dom7, Am7

GROUP D – Acoustic Riff
The riff shown in bar 1-2 should be transposed and played as indicated in bars 3-8. The root note of the pattern to be played is shown in the subsequent bars.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 4 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

At this level there is an element of improvisation in the sight reading test*

Tempo: q=80-90
Duration: 8 bars
Rhythms: Half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, ties and rests
Key: D major, G major, D minor or A minor

*Improvisation element: two bars, melody only

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

At this level there is an element of sight reading in the Improvisation & Interpretation test*

Tempo: q=90-100
Duration: 4-6 bars
Key: G major or A minor
Improvisation requirement: Rhythmic chords and melodic lines (as shown on score)

*Sight reading element: two bars, rhythmic strumming only

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar melody with a drum backing using the C major pentatonic or B minor pentatonic scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be descending. Candidates will need to then play back the melody on their instrument.

The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in.

The tempo is q=90.

Test 2: Harmonic Recall

Candidates will hear a tonic chord followed by a two-bar sequence in the key of C major played to a bass and drum backing.

The sequence will be drawn from the I, IV and V chords and may occur in any combination. Candidates will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the example from the Grade book. This rhythm will be used in all examples of this test given in the exam. Candidates will then be asked to identify the sequence they have played to the examiner. The test will be played twice.

Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, tonic, count-in, chords. There will be a short gap to practise after second playing. Candidates will then hear the count-in and tonic for the third time followed by a vocal count-in then must play the chords to the drum backing. Candidates should then identify the chords. The tempo is q=90.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about instrumental & technical knowledge.

Music Knowledge
The examiner will ask four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music performed in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.
In Grade 4 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Names of pitches
  • The meaning of the time signature marking and the key signature marking
  • Repeat marks, first and second time bars, D.C., D.S., al Coda and al Fine markings
  • Whole, half, quarter, eighth, triplet eight-notes and 16th note values
  • Whole, half, quarter, eighth, triplet eight-notes and 16th note rests and rest combinations
  • The construction of major 7, minor 7 or dominant 7 chords

Technical Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding a technical consideration of the piece, in relation to:

  • Picking hand: Strumming or picking technique for a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable
  • Fretting hand: Fretting position and fingering used to play a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable

The examiner will choose the section of music and will ask for a brief explanation as to why the technique was appropriate for the chosen section.

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.