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Electric Guitar Grade 8

Grade 8, the Black Belt of Electric Guitar Grades, is a thorough examination of your skills as a performing guitarist and knowledgeable musician. As you perform your exam pieces, you'll need to show mastery of different time signatures, complex chords, advanced technique and theory. Good luck!

Key Skills at Grade 8

What you'll learn at Grade 8:

  • Time signature changes, 16th-note triplets, fingerpicked chords
  • Whole Tone, Diminished, Altered scales, Dominant 7♯5, Dominant 7♭5, Dominant 7♯9, Dominant 7♭9 arpeggios and chords, Diminished arpeggios and Stylistic Study
  • Session work

What You're Marked On

Your Electric Guitar 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. There are 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 electric guitar 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 electric guitar skills of lead and rhythm playback.

Melodic Recall
  • You will hear a two-bar melody in E major pentatonic, F 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 the tonic, third 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 bass and 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 Electric Guitar 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
  • You will then be asked to identify the sequence you have played to the examiner, including any chord extensions

General Musicianship Questions

General Musician 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, 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 Guitar Book.

Guitar GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 8 exam lasts 33 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 Electric Guitar Grade 8 exam now! Simply buy or download the Electric Guitar Grade 8 book, and start preparing alongside your electric guitar teacher.

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

Books for Guitar Grade 8