Ukulele Grade 1

The Grade 1 Ukulele exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for six months to one year. They have mastered the key basic debut level skills and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythm, coordination and musical understanding. There is also the continuing opportunity to develop improvisation skills.

Exam time

Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 15 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 1

  • 3 Performance Pieces
  • Technical Exercises
  • Supporting Tests
  • Ensemble Backing Tracks and Duet Arrangements

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The Rockschool Ukulele Grade 1 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 1 exam in one essential book. Featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world's most iconic artists, including Adele, Radiohead and Cat Stevens.

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Ukulele Grade 1 Book

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces
(two of which may be Free Choice Pieces)
Candidates choose to play either
Performance Pieces or Technical
Exercises first
These account
for 60% of the
exam mark
Technical Exercises
(Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications)
Candidates choose to play either
Performance Pieces or Technical
Exercises first
These account
for 15% of the
exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & InterpretationCandidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
This accounts
for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear TestsCandidates respond to 2 aural tests.These account
for 10% of the
exam marks
5 General Musicianship QuestionsCandidates answer 5 questions based
on one of the pieces performed
These account
for 5% of the
exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only
(three of these can be Free Choice Pieces)
These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 1 they are short, typically one to one and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can concentrate on the requirements of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/consistency, technical control and sync at a beginner level.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Radiohead - Creep
  • Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
  • Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  • Cat Stevens - Wild World
  • Adele - Send My Love ( To Your New Lover)
  • Jess Glynne - Take Me Home

Technical Exercises

There are three types of technical exercises in Rockschool’s Ukulele grade examinations:

Group A – Scales
Group B – Arpeggios
Group C – Chord voicings

Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. The examiner will ask for two demonstrations from each group, unless otherwise stated in the grade book. The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B for all Ukulele grades.

Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books, or ensure the information on any electronic device is out of view, and play from memory.

Note: The use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will impact on the marks awarded for this element.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 1, candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Sight Reading

The examiner will provide a 4-6 bar melody in the key of C major. Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise.

Improvisation & Interpretation

The examiner will provide a 4-6 bar chord progression in the key of C major. Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise.

Ear Tests

At Grade 1 there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play three consecutive notes. Candidates will need to identify whether the last two notes are higher or lower in sequence.

Chord Recognition 

The examiner will play a sequence of chords, each with a C root note. Candidates will need to identify the chord quality of each chord, from a choice of major, minor, diminished and augmented.

General Musicianship Questions (GMQ's)

For the General Musicianship Questions, the examiner may use his or her version of the selected piece as the basis to ask the questions if such notes contained on the candidate’s version are deemed sufficiently extensive or might assist the candidate when answering the questions.

At Grade 1 candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

  •  One question relating to harmony
  •  One question relating to melody
  •  One question relating to rhythm
  •  One question relating to technical requirements
  •  One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam. The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-1112-1415-1718-20
Grade DescriptorInsecure basic techniques

Inconsistent awareness of timing/pulse

Inconsistent use of rhythm, duration and phrasing

Insecure sync/continuity

Insecure use of articulation, expression and dynamic
Secure basic techniques some of the time

Awareness of timing/pulse some of the time

Basic ability to use rhythm, duration and phrasing accurately some of the time

Use of basic sync/continuity some of the time

Basic ability to use articulation, expression and dynamics some of the time
Mostly secure basic techniques

Awareness of timing/pulse most of the time

Basic ability to use rhythm, duration and phrasing accurately most of the time

Use of basic sync/continuity most of the time

Basic ability to use articulation, expression and dynamics most of the time
Consistently secure basic techniques

Awareness of timing/pulse throughout

Basic ability to use rhythm, duration and phrasing accurately throughout

Use of basic sync/continuity throughout Basic ability to use articulation, expression and dynamics throughout

Technical Exercises 

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-89-1011-1213-15
Grade DescriptorInability to maintain pulse or tempo accurately

Inability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases accurately
Basic ability to maintain pulse and tempo some of the time

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases some of the time
Basic ability to maintain pulse and tempo most of the time

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases most of the time
Basic ability to maintain pulse and tempo consistently

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases consistently

Ear Tests 

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade Descriptor Incorrect responsesSome correct responsesMostly correct responsesConsistently correct responses

Supporting Tests Sight Reading/Improvisation & Interpretation

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPass Merit Distinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade DescriptorInsecure ability to read basic notation OR inability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melodySecure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation some of the time OR Secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melody some of the timeMostly secure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation OR Mostly secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melodyConsistently secure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation OR Consistently secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melody

Supporting Tests (General Musicianship Questions)

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-2 correct responses3 correct responses4 correct responses 5 correct responses

Additional Information

Free Choice Pieces

For all examinations, candidates are able to play a number of free choice pieces:

  • Grade Examinations: Two free choice pieces (a minimum of one piece must be from the Ukulele grade book)
  • Performance Certificates: Three free choice pieces (a minimum of two pieces must be from the Ukulele grade book)
  • Free choice pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces given in the set selections in
    the grade books which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level.
  • Free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop; Rock; Jazz; Country; Blues; Soul; Reggae, Film and Musical Theatre.
  • Own compositions are also acceptable. Pieces should be selected carefully to ensure that they provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the relevant assessment criteria.

Candidates are reminded that if a chosen Free Choice Piece does not
meet these requirements this may impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination.

All pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track) except in cases where a piece has been selected from previous Rockschool syllabi and does not have a backing track or has been specifically arranged by Rockschool as a solo piece.

Candidates are reminded that RSL examination regulations state that pieces must be performed to the exact requirements as detailed in the relevant syllabus guide. If a performance piece over runs, the examiner can halt the performance and grade material demonstrated until that point only. Candidate mark sheets in this instance will automatically be referred to the Head of Assessment at RSL and may be returned to the candidate with accompanying notes.

Free Choice Pieces must be available in fully notated sheet music. Candidates need to bring a copy of the sheet music for the examiner to refer to during the examination. It is acceptable for candidates to refer to their own duplicate copy during the performance. Candidates are reminded that both copies need to fully reflect the interpretation and intended performance of the piece. Examiners will retain all photocopied materials from the exam session.

If there is any doubt about the appropriateness of the chosen piece, please contact freechoicepieces@rslawards.com.

Instrument Specifications 

Candidates are reminded that it is their responsibility to select and provide an appropriate musical instrument for each syllabus to allow demonstration of the relevant stylistic and technical skills within their performance.

At all levels of examination, if any outcomes or assessed criteria cannot be demonstrated or are demonstrated less securely as a result of the equipment, this may be reflected in the marks awarded.

Download the Ukulele Syllabus

Download the Ukulele Syllabus

Ukulele Syllabus (1.3MB, .pdf)

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Dates & Fees

Next exam period:

07 November 19 - 15 December 19

Next Closing Date

23 October 19

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Exam Fee

£45.00

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