Person Marking up Music Score (Stock Image)

How We Mark Exams

The following guidelines provide indications as to how we assess each area of your music exam.

These are general guidelines; they do not address details (for example, intonation, pedalling, breath support) that are specific to individual instruments. Inevitably, it is not an exact science, and consequently examiner marking is always subject to some variation. Nevertheless, the examiner comments should offer a clear indication as to why any given mark has been awarded.

For Grades VI–VIII and Senior Certificate a higher standard of musical understanding and technical facility is expected.

19–20: A confident performer; technically assured with effective sense of style and rhythmic character. Showing real performance flair, with excellent communication of character. Expressive and musical playing.

18: Very well prepared and polished playing. A fluent tempo and good attention to detail. A good understanding of the style and character, demonstrating an appropriate dynamic range where appropriate. Rhythmic and confident in delivery.

17: A generally accurate performance, played at a suitable tempo with good rhythmic shape. Some awareness of style, and dynamic content is present. Good awareness of balance between melody and accompaniment.

16: A suitable tempo and largely accurate performance. Minor slips do not detract from an overall steady pace. Dynamic contrast and sense of style can be further explored; articulation / phrasing is suitable to the style.

15: Notes and rhythm are generally secure, though the overall tempo may be cautious / may have a tendency to fluctuate. Needing greater awareness of style, with musical detail not yet realised.

14: Errors of notes and rhythm in a number of places, which affects overall fluency. There is evidence of preparation, though delivery is not yet fully secure, and the finer detail of stylistic and musical content has yet to be considered.

12–13: Continuity problems as a result of note / rhythm insecurity. A steady tempo has not been secured, and musical detail is lacking.

10–11: Several inaccuracies of notes / rhythm resulting in little sense of continuity. Inadequate preparation.

9 and lower: A fractured performance offering little accuracy. Not yet ready for exam presentation.

15: Quick response; virtuosic and very musical.
14: Confidently executed, fluent tempo and even tone.
13: Well prepared, steady pace.
12: Generally prepared; mostly tidy and even.
11: Fairly competent, though not always secure in execution.
10: These are quite well known, with some errors in delivery; a cautious tempo.
9: An effort has been made, but there are problems of continuity and response.
8: and lower: Inadequate preparation; frequent errors with no real grasp evident.

10: A musical performance.
  9: Very good attempt, largely accurate and fluent.
  8: Occasional weaknesses in fluency and / or accuracy but a good effort overall.
  7: A little unsettled in delivery, though a fairly good attempt on the whole.
  6: Some effort, but problems of understanding and continuity.
  5: Serious problems of understanding and continuity.
  4: No real grasp.