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The next deadline is 8 November

Music Production Grade 8

The Grade 8 Music Production exam is for candidates who have mastered music production and are capable of critiquing their own work; therefore achieving a professional finish to their productions.

Key Features at Grade 8

What you'll learn at Grade 8:

  • Music Production Theory
  • Listening Skills
  • Practical Skills

How the exam is assessed

Candidates are required to complete a written exam, a listening test and two practical tasks. These are designed to explore theoretical knowledge of the subject and practical skills using a Digital Audio Workstation. The Grade 8 exam is divided into 3 sections:

Section 1 - Theoretical written exam

This will assess the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the following two sections:

  • Music Production Terminology
  • Sound & Audio Fundamentals

At Grade 8 the theory content covered will include subject areas such as comparing studio hardware, audio file formats, analogue vs. digital technology, microphone technique choice, vocal comping, triggered samples, balanced audio advantages and acoustic room design.

At Grade 8, candidates will be expected to:

  • Compare two pieces of studio equipment, making reference to differences in specification
  • Compare two audio file formats
  • Compare analogue and digital connectivity, stating advantages and disadvantages
  • Evaluate the impact that digital technology has had on music production
  • Evaluate the impact that the Digital Audio Workstation has had on music production
  • Choose appropriate microphone techniques for a given situation
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of audio editing, such as compositing vocals, drum timing versus rerecording
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using MIDI triggered samples
  • Evaluate the advantages of using balanced audio, and how to connect balanced and unbalanced devices together in the same audio system
  • Explain acoustic terms such as standing waves, room modes, diffusion, absorption

Section 2 - Listening test

The listening test will present candidates with questions relating to sonic fidelity, music theory and harmony and stylistic awareness. Audio files will be presented to the candidates and questions will relate specifically to the relevant audio file.This will assess the candidate’s ability to hear and interpret:

  • Sonic Fidelity - Identifying high and low resolution audio files
  • Music Theory & Harmony - Identifying modes of the major scale and irregular time signatures
  • Stylistic Awareness - Identifying specific genres

At Grade 8, candidates will be expected to:

  • Identify the difference between MP3 and Wav versions of the same recording
  • Identify the difference between MP3 and Wav versions of the same full mix
  • Identify the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps MP3's
  • Identify three modes of the major scale Dorian, Mixolydian and Lydian
  • Identify irregular time signatures 5/4, 7/8
  • Introducing modern electronic music genres from a choice of two: Dubstep and EDM

Candidates are advised to practice these techniques using the mock assessment files available from your secure area.

Section 3 - Practical assessment

The Practical Assessment is divided into two sections as detailed below:

  • Technical Skills - The candidate will be asked to complete a series of specified tasks, which must be completed using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). At Grade 8 the task will centre around creative music production technique such as parallel compression.
  • Professional Scenario - The candidate will be presented with a situation, and must choose and implement appropriate technique to resolve the scenario. At Grade 8 the candidate may choose to specialise in Music Production, Electronic Music Production or Sound for Media.
    • Music Production: - The scenario will focus on mastering a final mix with EQ, compressions and limiters
    • Electronic Music Production: - The scenario will focus on creating a remix using the supplied vocal sample
    • Sound for Media: - The scenario will require the candidate to synchronise foley sfx to the provided video

The completed session files must be appropriately named, saved and shared with your examiner as instructed, including all associated audio files. It is vital that candidates are able to accurately save their work as failure to do so will result in an unclassified mark.


The exam lasts 180 minutes.

Equipment information

On your exam day, you must bring:

  • 1 x closed headphones with a ¼ inch jack *
  • A hard copy of your Music Production syllabus book or your proof of digital purchase

Info: * Candidates without their own headphones will be unable to sit the exam.

Your exam centre will provide:

  • 1 x computer; running either of the latest two versions of Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live or GarageBand
  • 1 x midi controller keyboard – minimum 4 octaves, including a sustain pedal and pitch wheel

Info: GarageBand, Cubase Elements and Cubase LE are only suitable for grades 1 to 5.

Books for Music Production Grade 8

  • Music Production Grade 8 Book Cover Music Production Grade 8

    The Music Production Grade 8 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 8 exam.

  • Piano Grade 8 Book Cover Piano Grade 8

    The Rockschool Grade 8 Piano book is the ideal preparation for your Grade 8 exam.

  • Guidebook Debut - Grade 5 Book Cover Guidebook Grade 6 - Grade 8

    Rockschool's Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers.

  • Workbook Grade 8 Book Cover Workbook Grade 8

    The Rockschool Grade 8 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 8 theory exam.