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The May to July deadline is 8 April

Drums Grade 3

At Drums Grade 3 you'll tackle stylistic grooves such as the reggae one­drop, and master flams, drags and triplets. Show off your new techniques in the exam, where you'll play five pieces – some Rockschool compositions, and some chosen by you*.

Key Skills at Grade 3

What you'll learn at Grade 3:

  • Introduction of solo and improvisation passages, reggae one drop feel, syncopated pushes
  • Single and double strokes, paradiddles, flams, triplets
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

Your Drums Grade 3 exam lasts 25 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 3:

  • Pieces last up to two minutes. Soloing and improvisation is introduced as well as developing stylistic sense of groove
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • Pieces are two 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 strokes
  • Double Strokes
  • Paradiddles
  • Flams and drags
  • Triplets
  • Fills

Sight Reading or Improvisation

At Grade 3 you will be offered either Sight Reading or Improvisation.

Sight Reading
  • Four bars at 70-80bpm played on the snare drum
  • ¼ 1/8th 1/16th notes in 4/4. 1/4 and 1/8 note rests
  • 90 seconds' preparation and practice
  • Four bars at 80-100bpm
  • One­-bar groove using bass drum, hi hat open hi-hat and snare
  • 30 seconds' preparation time
  • One practise play-through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 3: 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
  • You will be required to play it back with a metronome
  • You will be required to identify it from two written examples
Groove Recall
  • You will hear a repeated two-­bar groove that is played on crash, hi-hat snare and bass. It is played twice
  • You will then have a short period of practice
  • You will be asked to play the groove

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 and rests
  • One question on the parts of the drum kit, the parts of the sticks and the name of two makes of drums

Drums GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 3 exam lasts 23 minutes for a Grade Exam or 18 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 3 exam now! Simply buy or download the Drums Grade 3 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 3