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The May to July deadline is 8 April

Drums Grade 8

Pass Drums Grade 8 and you'll be ready to lay down pro-­level grooves in any session, on any stage. In your five exam performance pieces, you'll need to show mastery of demanding techniques, faultless coordination and the ability to play a range of styles.

Key Skills at Grade 8

What you'll learn at Grade 8:

  • Double bass drum, advanced stylistic grooves, complex time­signature changes and syncopation
  • Single strokes developed, alternative paradiddle­diddles, Swiss Army triplet, pataflafla, single and double triple ratamacue, rolls, Stylistic Studies
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

Performance Pieces

At Grade 8:

  • Pieces last up to three minutes 45 seconds. They incorporate advanced solo and improvisation work with mature sense of stylistic groove patterns, plus complex coordination
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • Pieces are four pages long
  • 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 six sections:

  • Single stroke
  • Paradiddles
  • Flams
  • Ratamacues
  • Rolls
  • Stylistic Study (chosen from rock/metal, funk, 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:

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

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 8: Fill Playback and Recognition and Groove Recall.

Fill Playback and Recognition
  • You will hear a one-­bar fill played on the snare drum. It is played twice with a metronome and can include 16th-­note sextuplets
  • You will be required to play it back with a metronome
  • You will be required to identify it from three written examples
Groove Recall
  • You will hear a repeated two-­bar groove. It is played twice
  • You will then have a short period of practice
  • You will be asked to play the groove
  • You will then be required to identify the style of a list of four styles given by the examiner

General Musicianship Questions

General Musician 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 drum voices on the stave, note values, time signature, repeats and 2nd time bars, stylistic choices for the piece and rests. One rudiment used stylistically in the piece
  • One question on all aspects of drum maintenance, tuning for the style of the piece chosen, techniques used on all parts of the drums for the piece

Drums GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 8 exam lasts 30 minutes for a Grade Exam or 26 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 Drums Grade 8 exam now! Simply buy or download the Drums Grade 8 book, and start preparing alongside your drums teacher.

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

Books for Drums Grade 8