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The May to July deadline is 8 April

Electric Guitar Grade 3

Grade 3 will put your lead-guitar accuracy and expression to the test, with pre-bends, open-string licks and the Blues scale. At exam time, show you've mastered the techniques by playing a series of performance pieces – some created by Rockschool, others created by you*!

Key Skills at Grade 3

What you'll learn at Grade 3:

  • Open-string pedal tones, bends, pre-bends, cross picking
  • Major and Natural Minor scales. Major and Minor Pentatonic scales, Blues scales
  • Major and minor arpeggios, barre chords
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

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

Performance Pieces

At Grade 3:

  • Pieces last up to two minutes. They focus on developing stylistic techniques and sounds
  • 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 four sections:

  • Scales
  • Arpeggios
  • Chords
  • Riff

Sight Reading or Improvisation

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

Sight Reading
  • 4 bars in G major or A minor at 75–85bpm
  • ½ and ¼ and 1/8 notes with ¼ note rests in 4/4
  • 90 seconds' preparation and practice
  • Four bars in G major or A minor at 80–90bpm
  • Choice of lead or rhythm
  • 30 seconds' preparation
  • One practice play through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 3: 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 G minor Pentatonic, played twice with a drum 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, and the first interval will be ascending
Rhythmic Recall
  • You will hear a two-bar rhythm played with a drum backing on the sixth (low E) string of your electric guitar
  • 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 construction of a major and minor chord
  • One question on your instrument, including parts of the electric guitar, location of volume and tone controls on the electric guitar and the volume/gain controls on the amp

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

Guitar GMQ Sample (137KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 3 exam lasts 25 minutes for a Grade Exam or 20 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 3 exam now! Simply buy or download the Guitar Grade 3 book, and start preparing alongside your 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 Electric Guitar Grade 3