Oct 27

Ten Last Minute Tips for ABRSM Music Theory Students!


The exams are fast approaching! Many of you will be taking your grade five music theory this weekend or the following Wednesday.

We’ve put together a list of ten last minute tips for you, to help you sail through your exam!

  1. Make sure you are comfortable. Wear layers that you can take off if it’s too warm in the room. Visit the bathroom before you go in! Make sure you are not hungry or thirsty before you start.
  2. Take at least two pencils with you, sharpened beforehand. Test your pencils to make sure they are soft enough to colour in note heads neatly, and that they are easy to rub out. Also take an eraser and a ruler. (The centre will provide rough paper for jotting down notes.)
  3. Make sure you can easily see what time it is, and know how long you have left.
  4. Glance through the exam paper and do the easy questions first. This means you have guaranteed points. If you start with the difficult questions it is harder to divide up your time, and you may even run out of time before you get to the easy questions.
  5. Read the instructions for each question slowly and carefully. It’s easy to assume, for example, that you should write an ascending scale, whereas the question actually asks for a descending one. It will only take 1 or 2 seconds more to read the question but could save you valuable time in the long run.
  6. Be as neat as you can. If the examiner can’t read what you’ve written, you won’t get credit for it.
  7. If you get stuck, move on to a different question. Don’t waste time scratching your head. Go back to troublesome questions when you’ve finished.
  8. Don’t leave any questions unanswered. If in doubt, guess! There is always a chance you will be right!
  9. Don’t lose easy marks in the composition question (grade five+) – make sure you’ve added tempo, dynamics and some articulation/phrasing to your piece. Don’t forget to write out the words if you choose the composing for voice question.
  10. Try to leave yourself enough time to be able to check through your answers. This really is essential. Almost everybody finds they have made a silly error or forgotten to answer something, when they check through. Even better, check more than once!

If you haven’t done so already, try our free online practice exam for you level (grades 1-5 available). Go the mymusictheory site and click on the grade you’re taking, choose “Exercises”, then click on “Practice Exam” – it’s the last one on the list.


Good luck to everyone taking an exam – do leave a comment to let us know how you got on!



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  1. kennithson m. sangma

    Thank you. I will do my best in the forthcoming grade 5 music theory exam to be commenced on 16 June 2012.

    1. Cattycatfish

      I’m doing mine tomorrow too!

  2. Brandypie

    Thanks! I’m having my theory test next Saturday and i’m really nervous. But I bet I will do fine with your great advice. Thanks again!

  3. Gabi

    urgh -shivers- In just 4hrs I will be doing mine!!! Ohhhhh my goodness! I am VERY nervous!

    1. Jessica

      I’m having mine in 1 hour! So nervous!

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