Music Exams

To inspire and challenge

Working towards a music performance examination is a positive experience for many students leading to greater confidence and improved attention to detail. It is also a great way to develop some of the supplementary skills that will lend greater depth to their musicianship, including sight-reading, scales, aural perception, in addition to the theory of music exams.​​

With a range of options to suit all levels and abilities, an exam is a great way to encourage students to develop their skills and confidence.

Working towards an exam

Music examinations can be an effective way to motivate students to practise as they learn and improve their skills. By working towards carefully structured and progressive syllabus goals, candidates can gain recognition for their achievement, providing a musical foundation for the future. 

Performance examinations have changed much in the last twenty years with qualifications to suit players of all ages and abilities. From introductory assessments for young players, through a series of eight graded examinations, to professional examinations at diploma level for advanced players. They  also offer much more flexibility with options than ever before, giving candidates the opportunity to choose a pathway that is right for them.


Graded exams

Graded examinations (or music grades, as they are commonly known) have been offered in the UK for almost 150 years. Grades are suitable for both children and adults and can be sat in piano or music theory; there are also a number of options, particularly in the piano syllabus, allowing students to choose from a huge range of repertoire and supporting tests that work for them. 


Most students follow the traditional route of an exam consisting of three pieces, scales, sight-reading, aural tests and a short discussion: a format that has hardly changed since they were first introduced back in 1888. However, for candidates who prefer not to play scales or to sight-read can take a 'recital grade' instead, allowing them to focus on the performance of four pieces instead.

All examinations offered by London College of Music are recognised and accredited by Ofqual, and can be used for college and university applications. 

Image by Maksym Kaharlytskyi

Diploma exams

With a range of diplomas on offer, including an entry-level qualification at DipLCM, many advanced-level students now decide to continue their studies after grade 8, whether for their own personal satisfaction or as a foundation towards a career in music.


Options include pathways in performance, teaching or accompaniment at one of three diploma levels (DipLCM, ALCM, or LLCM).  For the performance route, the candidate can choose between an extended recital of 35-40 minutes, or a shorter performance of pieces including sight-reading and/ or discussion options. The teaching route places emphasis, naturally, on the candidate's ability to be an effective teacher rather than on performance skills alone. Here, the examiner will be assessing how well the candidate knows the repertoire and whether they have clear and effective teaching ideas as to how to solve technical and musical issues as they arise. And for the piano student who enjoy making music with others, the piano accompaniment diplomas provide just that: an opportunity to accompany solo instrumentalists and vocalists in an array of musical styles and genres with sensitivity and technical assurance. 

Image by Claude Gabriel