Enter for your Bass exam in four quick steps

The February to March deadline is 14 December

Bass Grade 1

At Bass Grade 1, you'll be introduced to fundamental music theory and technique that all rock and pop bassists need. Your skills will be evaluated in a short exam that combines Rockschool tunes with pieces of your own choice*.

Key Skills at Grade 1

What you'll learn at Grade 1:

  • Staccato markings, simple syncopation, dotted note values and eighth notes
  • Major and Natural Minor scales; Major and Minor Pentatonic scales; Major and Minor arpeggios; riff playing
  • Playback skills

What You're Marked On

Your Bass Grade 1 exam lasts 20 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 1:

  • Pieces last up to one minute 15 seconds. They cover simple position work, with basic articulation and simple syncopation
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • *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
  • Chords
  • Riff

Sight Reading or Improvisation

At Grade 1 you will be offered either Sight Reading or Improvisation.

Sight Reading
  • Four bars in A minor at 70bpm
  • ½ and ¼ notes in 4/4
  • 90 seconds' preparation and practice
  • Four bars in C major or A minor
  • Choice of lead or rhythm
  • 30 seconds' preparation
  • One practise play-through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 1: Melodic and Rhythmic Recall. These help develop the two key bass skills of lead and rhythm playback.

Melodic Recall
  • You will hear three notes and will be asked to identify if the second and third are higher or lower
  • Answers can be "higher/lower" or "up/down"
Rhythmic Recall
  • You will hear a two-bar rhythm played with a drum backing on the fourth (low E) string of your bass
  • You will then have a period of practice
  • You will be asked to play the rhythm along with the drum backing
  • You will then be asked to identify the test from a set of two examples

General Musicianship Questions

General Musicianship Questions are included to test your musical understanding and further instrumental knowledge. The five questions are broken down as follows:

  • Four questions on the piece, including clef, time signature, note values and the difference between a major and minor chord
  • One question on your instrument, including parts of the bass, makes of bass and open-string notes

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

Bass GMQ Sample (48KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 1 exam lasts 20 minutes for a Grade Exam or 15 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 1 exam now! Simply buy or download the Bass Grade 1 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 1

  • Bass Grade 1 Book Cover Bass Grade 1

    The Bass Grade 1 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 1 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 1 Book Cover Workbook Grade 1

    The Rockschool Grade 1 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 1 theory exam.