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The February to March deadline is 14 December

Bass Grade 8

Bass Grade 8 is a thorough, pro-level musical workout that'll prove you have what it takes to handle the bass for anyone, anywhere, in any musical situation. Show you've developed advanced technique, theory knowledge and improvisational and compositional awareness, across five intricate performance pieces.

Key Skills at Grade 8

What you'll learn at Grade 8:

  • Time signature changes, two-handed tapping, fast blues basslines
  • Whole Tone, Diminished, Natural Minor and Altered scales, Dominant 7♯5, Dominant 7♭5, Dominant 7♯9, Dominant 7♭9 Arpeggios and Dominant 7th, Major 7th and Minor 7th chords. Diminished arpeggio and Stylistic Study
  • Session work

What You're Marked On

Your Bass Grade 8 exam lasts 30 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 8:

  • Pieces last up to three minutes 45 seconds. They contain advanced stylistic techniques and use of stylistic sounds, with increasingly complex solo and improvisation opportunities
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • Pieces are over four pages
  • There is an option of two Free Choice Pieces for a Grade Exam and three Free Choice Pieces for a Performance Certificate

Learn more about Free Choice Pieces...

Technical Exercises

A selection will be asked from three sections:

  • Scales
  • Modes
  • Arpeggios
  • Chords
  • Stylistic Study (chosen from Rock/Metal, Funk or Jazz/Latin/Blues)

Quick Study Piece

At Grade 8, you will be offered a Quick Study Piece with a backing track in the style of the Stylistic Study chosen in the technical work:

Sight Reading
  • Combination of Sight Reading and Improvisation
  • Full version heard once (with bass playing notated parts)
  • Three minutes' preparation/practice time
  • One practise play-through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 8: Melodic and Rhythmic Recall. These help develop the two key bass skills of lead and rhythm playback.

Melodic Recall
  • You will hear a two-bar melody in B Major Pentatonic, C Minor Pentatonic or B Natural Minor scale played twice with a drum and bass backing track
  • You will then have a period of practice
  • You will then be asked to play the melody along with the drum backing
  • The first note will be either the tonic or fifth, and the first interval will either be ascending or descending
Rhythmic Recall
  • You will hear a tonic chord of A major followed by a four-bar chord sequence played to a drum backing made up of the chords I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi chords and will incorporate I7 and IV7 chords in a given rhythm shown in the Bass Grade 8 Book
  • You will hear the test twice and then have a period to practice
  • You will then be asked to play the chord sequence to the bass and drum backing in the rhythm provided
  • You will then be asked to identify the sequence you have played to the examiner, including any chord extensions

General Musicianship Questions

General Musicianship Questions are included to test your musical understanding and further instrumental knowledge. You choose the piece to answer five questions on, broken down as follows:

  • Four questions on the piece, including all notation, dynamic and stylistic markings as well as the knowledge of one scale/mode used in the solo of the piece and the relationship to the underlying harmonic progression
  • One question on your instrument, including change of sound/tone, how it is achieved and the location of the same pitch on two different strings

These files are extracts from Rockschool's Companion Guides for Bass Book.

Bass GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 8 exam lasts 30 minutes for a Grade Exam or 28 minutes for a Performance Certificate. Candidates are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before their exam starts.

Get Started Today!

You can start working towards your Bass Grade 8 exam now! Simply buy or download the Bass Grade 8 book, and start preparing alongside your bass teacher.

If you don't have a bass teacher, you can quickly find the nearest teacher to you with our handy find a music teacher map.

Books for Bass Grade 8

  • Bass Grade 8 Book Cover Bass Grade 8

    The Bass Grade 8 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 8 exam.

  • Bass Companion Guide Book Cover Bass Companion Guide

    The Bass Companion Guide book features over 200 "unseen" test examples.

  • Bass Technical Handbook Book Cover Bass Technical Handbook

    Brush up on every riff, scale and arpeggio you'll need to know to pass all of your Grade Exams.

  • Workbook Grade 8 Book Cover Workbook Grade 8

    The Rockschool Grade 8 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 8 theory exam.