Ukulele Grade 5

The Grade 5 Ukulele exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for three years or more and who have fully consolidated their intermediate level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 4 and since acquired a greater use of appropriate technique, more complex rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. Candidates will have developed a good sense of expression, have a strong grasp of stylistic awareness, and there is also the opportunity to improvise which is now individual, assured, accurate and expressive.

There are two types of exam available at Grade 5, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Exam time

Grade Exam: 27 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 27 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 5

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

Buy Your Book

The Rockschool Ukulele Grade 5 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 5 exam in one essential book. Featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world's most iconic artists, including Daft Punk, Metallica and the Average White Band.

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Ukulele Grade 5 Book

Exam Structure

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

Grade Exam

Prepared Work
Candidates are required to play three performance pieces and Technical Exercises which cover scales, arpeggios and chords.

Unprepared Work
Candidates are required to complete either a Sight Reading or an Improvisation & Interpretation test, and two Ear Tests which continue to develop melodic and harmonic recall.

The Grade 5 exam lasts approximately 27 minutes and is taken in the following order:

  • Performance Pieces*
  • Technical Exercises*
  • Sight Reading OR Improvisation & Interpretation
  • Ear Tests
  • General Musicianship Questions

*These elements can be taken first or second at the candidate’s request

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 & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8)Candidates 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

Prepared Work
Candidates are required to play five performance pieces. There is no unprepared work in the Performance Certificate.

The Grade 5 Performance Certificate lasts approximately 27 minutes.

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 5 they remain typically in the region of two to two and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  • Get Lucky – Daft Punk
  • Songbird – Eva Cassidy
  • Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
  • Enter Sandman – Metallica
  • Pick up the Pieces – Average White Band

Technical Exercises

At Grade 5 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Chords.

All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A: Scales

Tempo: 90bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes
Range: As shown in grade book

  • Major scale in three positions (key of Ab or B major)
  • Harmonic minor scale on one string
  • Candidates must demonstrate a harmonic minor scale with its root note on any of the four open strings G, C, E or A) as specified by the examiner.
  • C major (campanella style)
  • G major (campanella style)
  • Group B: Arpeggios

    Tempo: 90bpm
    Rhythms: Eighth Notes
    Range: As shown in grade book

    • Arpeggios formed on chords Imaj7, V7 and VIm7 to be played in a continuous exercise in the key of Ab major
    • Arpeggios formed on chords Imaj7, V7 and VIm7 to be played in a continuous exercise in the key of B major
    • C# minor 7 arpeggio across four strings

    Group C: Chords

    The tempo for this group is 90 bpm.

    1. Harmonised scale in Ab or B major

    • Barre chord shapes in the key of Ab or B to be played in sequence to continuous click
    • The chord types (in sequence) are I, IIm, IIIm, IV, V, VIm, VIIdim, I
    • The tempo is 90 bpm

    Please note, candidates can choose between exercise 2 or exercise 3 below:

    Either:
    2. Dominant 7th partial chords and 16th note strumming rhythms. The tempo is 90 bpm. To be played to continuous click.

    Or:
    3. Dominant 7th chords & triple strokes. To be played to continuous click.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In this section, candidates can choose between a Sight Reading test or an Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask which the candidate has chosen before then showing them the test. Once the candidate has chosen, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

  • Duration: 8 bars
  • Rhythms: Quarter notes and quarter note rests, eighth notes and eighth note rests, dotted eighth notes and eighth note rests, 16th notes and ties
  • Key: Ab major or B major
  • Tempo: 80 bpm

Improvisation & Interpretation

  • Duration: 8 bars
  • Key: Ab major or B major
  • Improvisation & interpretation requirement: Single-note melodies only
  • Tempo: 80–90 bpm

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two bar melody with a drum backing using the Ab major scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note. Candidates will play the melody back on their instrument. The test will be played twice.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by four clicks. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next there will be a vocal count-in and candidates will then play the melody to the drum backing. The tempo is 80.

Test 2: Harmonic Recall

The examiner will play a tonic chord followed by a four bar chord sequence in the key of G major played to a drum backing. The sequence will be a selection drawn from the I, IV, V and VIm chords and may occur in any combination.

Candidates will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the example in the grade book. This rhythm will be used in all examples of this test given in the exam. Candidates will then be asked to identify the sequence you have played to the examiner.

The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, tonic, count-in, chords. There will be a short gap to practise after the second playing. Candidates will hear the count-in and tonic for the third time followed by a vocal count-in, and will then need to play the chords to the drum backing. Candidates will then need to name the chord sequence, including chord types (i.e. major or minor). The tempo is 90 bpm.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions about a performance piece of their choosing. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about technical knowledge.

Music Knowledge

The examiner will ask candidates four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music they have played in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

In Grade 5 the examiner can draw on the following subject areas for these questions:

  • Names of pitches
  • The meaning of the time signature and the key signature markings
  • Repeat marks, first and second time bars, D.C., D.S., al Coda and al Fine markings
  • Whole, half, quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, dotted eighth, triplet eighth-notes and 16th-note values & rests
  • The construction of any chord found within your piece from the following types:
    – major 7, minor 7 or dominant 7 chords
    – sus2 or sus4 chords
    – ‘3rd omitted’ chords, e.g. ‘B7 (no 3rd)’
  • The meaning of a ‘slash’ chord, e.g. ‘C/E’
  • The meaning of any dynamic or articulation markings shown on your score

Technical Knowledge

The examiner will also ask candidates one question regarding a technical consideration of their piece, in relation to:

Picking hand: Strumming or picking technique for a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable

Fretting hand: Fretting position and fingering used to play a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable

The examiner will choose the section of music and will ask candidates to give a brief explanation as to why the technique was appropriate for the chosen section.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises 

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range13–1511–129–104–80–3
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests 

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range5 correct responses4 correct responses3 correct responses2 correct responses0–1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

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.

Free Choice Pieces can be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track), or as a solo piece (without backing track).

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 (2020 Edition)

Ukulele Syllabus (2017 Edition)

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