Jump to content


How much time would I need to study for Grade 5 Theory?

  • Please log in to reply
2 replies to this topic

#1 Sakura


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 173 posts
  • Member: 4419
    Joined: 12-August 05
  • Asia

Posted 04 June 2021 - 07:03

I have a beleaguered history with Grade 5 Theory. First of all, I passed my Grade 5 Practical a long time ago but I could not afford to pay my then teacher for theory coaching so I decided to study for it myself.


Unfortunately, a family member became seriously ill and was hospitalized for multiple surgeries. ABRSM refused to refund me my exam fee though I wanted to withdraw so I decided to go ahead and sit for the exam anyway (this was pre-2018 syllabus change paper exam) on the off chance that I might scrape through. I had done some studying before family member's hospitalization but I had no teacher and my life was basically chaos due to family member's condition. I scored around 40, not enough to secure a pass.


Fast forward to last year. I took intensive theory lessons for 2 months with a teacher but I had to stop because I got into an intensive full-time course and just didn't have the time to study theory on top of my course and other commitments.


I am graduating from my course soon (mid-June 21) and I'm considering taking Grade 5 Theory sometime in August. I will not be able to afford a teacher but if I am very disciplined after my course ends, I will have about half the day everyday for cramming.


Is an August timeline realistic? How much time will I need to devote each day to studying? I'm not planning on a Distinction, just a pass so I can go on to Grade 6. I'm nervous about this new online format because the first cohort to take it in my country had a lot of technical hiccups and I'm just more comfortable with paper as an older person. I have "Take Five and Pass First Time"(I didn't pass first time obviously but I didn't have this book back then! lol), "First Steps in Music Theory" as well as the new format workbooks but I haven't had much time/spare brain cells to work through them during my full-time course so I've gotten somewhat rusty when it comes to what I've learned.

  • 0

#2 wendym


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 146 posts
  • Member: 899027
    Joined: 01-June 18

Posted 05 June 2021 - 09:28

I think you have enough motivation and spare time, I'd give it a go - what can you lose apart from possibly not passing again but at least gaining experience and giving it yet another go?


I personally think having a teacher would make your job a lot easier as they have a structured way to make sure you cover everything a lot more quickly and more in-depth - my theory students learn everything in four two-hour modules with plenty of practice in between before moving onto a couple of test papers and they all score at least merits, if not distinctions.


Regarding the online exam - it is VERY different to the paper exam, I had a go through the test sample with one of my students just ahead of their previous exam and it was tough - if you're really used to having everything on paper and working through it that way, the online version feels very different.  Yes it's essentially multiple choice, but set in such a way that it can be really hard to tell which is the MOST correct answer, along with having to scroll up and down on an often too small screen to show the examples.  Also, the old paper formats are seven questions (I think?) whereas the online exam is something like 60 plus questions, if not more, which can feel really long especially when concentrating on a screen.  Technical hurdles are something to think about too, we had to rewire our entire home and change our broadband package (for the better yay) purely in order to accommodate the necessary connection required to run the exam.  Lots of frustration at the time, when I was also trying to organise 7 other students doing the same exam from their own homes, remotely, during lockdown. 


But as I said above, what's to be lost from giving it ago, apart from the entry fee?  Good luck!

  • 0

#3 ten left thumbs

ten left thumbs


  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1066 posts
  • Member: 454622
    Joined: 09-May 12

Posted 20 June 2021 - 09:43

Whatever you do for grade 5 theory, (and I hope you do well!) don't expect the same strategy to work for Grade 6 also. There was always a big jump between grade 5 and 6, grade 6 being more about harmony, and you really do need to grapple with score-reading, harmony, composition, figured bass, etc. Grade 5 was really the assumed knowledge required to think about this. What they did recently was to take out the more 'musical' aspects of grade 5 theory (composing an answering melody) and fill it instead with lot of pernickity things, like knowing how to write the key signature for Eb minor in tenor clef and reading umpteen ledger lines in said key and clef. Which will leave you less prepared than ever to tackle grade 6. 


There is an app which gives you a good idea of the sorts of questions they ask at different grades, but I don't think it covers grade 6. Have you done grade 4?

  • 0