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Piano 3 Piano

Piano Grade 3 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Piano Grade 3 (2019 & 2020)

Piano requirements and information

Our Piano requirements and information summarise the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM graded Piano exams.

They are detailed in the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales and arpeggios, Sight-reading and Aural tests) immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download as a PDF.

Further exam details and administrative information are given in our Information & Regulations, which you should read before booking an exam.


There are eight grades of exam for Piano and candidates may be entered for any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Piano. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument. For full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Prerequisite for Grades 6-8.


ABRSM Centres provide a piano suitable for exam purposes. The piano will be upright or grand. Practice before the exam cannot be arranged, but examiners will recognise that the instrument may be one to which candidates are unaccustomed. When exams are held at Visits (premises provided by the applicant and visited by the examiner), a suitable piano must be provided. A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognisable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece (a separate copy is not required – the candidate’s copy will suffice). Examiners may stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. They will not issue or discuss a candidate’s result. Instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Before beginning: Candidates are welcome to adjust the piano stool height (the examiner will be happy to help with this if necessary) and to play a few notes to try out and get used to the piano.

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be taken in any order, at the candidate’s choice.

Further information


Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Hook download Allegro
1st movt from Sonatina in F, Op. 12 No. 3
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
2 Seixas download Giga
2nd movt from Sonata in D minor
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
3 M. Praetorius
arr. Pell
download Bransle de la torche
from Terpsichore
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
4 Dittersdorf download English Dance in B♭
No. 9 from 20 englische Tänze
Dittersdorf: 20 englische Tänze
Schott (ED 3935)

More details
5 Haydn download German Dance
The Joy of First Classics, Book 2
Yorktown Music Press (YK20568)

More details
6 Mozart download Menuett in F
K. 5
No. 10 from Mozart: 25 Early Pieces

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 W. Carroll download Shadows
No. 3 from River and Rainbow
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
2 Gurlitt download Allegretto grazioso
No. 11 from Kleine Blumen, Op. 205
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
3 Reinecke download Prelude
1st movt from Serenade in C, Op. 183 No. 1
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
4 L. Cohen
arr. Miller
download Hallelujah
A Dozen a Day Songbook, Book 2
Willis (HL00119242)

More details
5 Martha Mier download Thistles in the Wind
The Best of Martha Mier, Book 2
Alfred (16611)

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6 Tchaikovsky download Old French Song (Mélodie antique française)
No. 16 from Album for the Young, Op. 39
Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39

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Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39
Peters (EP3782)

More details
Short Romantic Pieces for Piano, Book 1

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List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bartók download Dance
No. 8 from For Children, Vol. 2
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

More details
2 R. R. Bennett download Diversion
No. 1 from Diversions
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

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3 Nikki Iles download Blues in the Attic
Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020, Grade 3

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4 June Armstrong download Unicorn (Monocerus)
from Stars
June Armstrong: Stars
Pianissimo Publishing

More details
5 Lerner and Loewe
arr. Bullard
download Wouldn't it be Loverly?
from My Fair Lady
(observing triplets in bb. 12 & 18)
The Graded Piano Player, Grades 2–3

More details
6 Christopher Norton download Face in the Crowd
No. 25 from The Microjazz Piano Collection 2
Christopher Norton: The Microjazz Piano Collection 2
Boosey & Hawkes

More details

Piano requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Every effort has been made to ensure the syllabus lists feature a broad range of repertoire, with items to suit and appeal to candidates of differing ages, backgrounds and interests. Not every piece will be suitable for every candidate due to technical reasons (e.g. hand size) or wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.).

It is advised that pieces selected are considered carefully for their appropriateness to each individual, which may require consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Given the ever-changing nature of the digital world, teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research items online (see

Exam music and editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). See information about obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments, etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Pedalling: The use and control of pedalling, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome rather than the strict observance of any printed pedal indications (which may therefore be adapted or omitted, as appropriate). Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on pedalling (whether marked in the music or not) should be avoided if appropriate pedalling cannot be managed.

Hand stretch: Candidates should choose the most suitable pieces for their hand size from the syllabus lists. If necessary, they may occasionally adapt the music by ‘spreading’ chords or omitting notes at wide stretches, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates at Grades 6–8 believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may bring a page-turner to the exam (prior permission is not required; the turner may be a candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales and arpeggios

21 marks





Scales (similar motion)

A, E, B, Bb, Eb majors

B, G, C minors
(harmonic or melodic at candidate’s choice)

hands together or separately as chosen by the examiner

2 octaves

Contrary-motion scales

A major

A harmonic minor

hands beginning on the tonic (unison)

2 octaves

Chromatic scales

beginning on Ab and on C

hands separately

2 octaves


A major

G minor

hands together only

2 octaves

E, B, Bb, Eb majors

B, C minors

hands separately only

2 octaves

Purchase Piano Scales & Arpeggios (Grade 3).


Piano requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio/broken chord etc. required at each grade and will ask for majors followed by minors within each type. They will also ask to hear a balance of the hand requirements and, in Grades 6–8, of the specified articulations across the requests as a whole. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify:

  • The key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • Left hand or right hand, or hands together
  • The articulation (where chosen by the examiner)

All scales, arpeggios and broken chords should:

  • Be played from memory
  • Be played in even notes (with the exception of the Grade 1 broken-chord pattern)
  • Ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • Be prepared legato, unless the syllabus specifies staccato (or both)
  • Be played without pedalling

Candidates are welcome to use any fingering that produces a successful musical outcome.

Candidates are free to start at any octave, provided the required ranges are covered. For all ‘hands together’ requirements, the hands should be one octave apart, unless otherwise indicated.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only, except where otherwise indicated. Scales in thirds or a third apart should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths or a sixth apart should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

See recommended minimum scale speeds.

Purchase Piano Scales & Arpeggios (Grade 3).


21 marks

Piano requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given half a minute in which to look though and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The table below shows the introduction of elements at each grade. Please note that these parameters are presented cumulatively, i.e. once introduced they apply for all subsequent grades (albeit within a logical progression of difficulty).


Length (bars)



Hand position

Other features that may be included

Grade 1



C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position


  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)



C, G, F majors
A, D minors

Each hand:

  • playing separately
  • in 5-finger position


  • dynamics
  • note values
  • articulations

Occasional accidentals (within minor keys only)

Grade 2

As Grade 1

As Grade 1

D major
E, G minors

Hands playing together

  • dotted notes
  • tied notes

Grade 3

up to 8


A, Bb, Eb major
B minor

Hands playing together outside 5-finger position

  • 2-note chords in either hand

For practice purposes, books of sample sight-reading tests are published for Piano by ABRSM for each grade.

Purchase Specimen Sight-Reading Tests (Grade 3).

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To clap the pulse of a piece played by the examiner and to identify whether it is in two time, three time or four time: The examiner will start playing the passage and the candidate should join in as soon as possible, clapping in time and giving a louder clap on the strong beats. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time, three time or four time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.
  2. To sing as ‘echoes’ three phrases played by the examiner: The phrases will be two bars long, in a major or minor key, and within the range of an octave. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note and then count in two bars. After the examiner has played each phrase, the candidate should sing back the echo without a pause, keeping in time.
  3. To identify a change in either pitch or rhythm during a phrase played by the examiner: The phrase will be up to four bars long, in a major or minor key. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the tonic and then count in two bars. The examiner will play the phrase twice, making the change in the second playing, after which the candidate should identify the change by describing it, or singing/ clapping. If necessary, the examiner will play both versions of the phrase again (although this will affect the assessment).
  4. To answer questions about two features of a piece played by the examiner: Before playing, the examiner will tell the candidate which two features the questions will be about. The first will be one of the following: dynamics (loud/quiet, or sudden/gradual changes), articulation (smooth/detached), tempo (becoming slower/faster, or staying the same); the second will be tonality (major/minor key).


Piano requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is being assessed. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).


Some tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. The examiner will also be ready to prompt, where helpful, although this may affect the assessment.

Marks are not awarded for each individual test or deducted for mistakes; instead they reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section. See marking criteria.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice (from 2011).

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may choose alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. See more information on alternative tests.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Scales Trainer

Scales Trainer helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

Translations for this page are available in: English, 简体中文


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