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ABRSM New Piano Syllabus 2021 & 2022 update

The wait is finally over, the new ABRSM piano syllabus is now scheduled to release (worldwide) on July 9, 2020. We have received many questions about the new syllabus, so here’s a very quick summary to digest:

  1. Sight-reading syllabus
    • No changes to the syllabus except the introduction of a new Initial Grade (see this as pre-Grade 1)
  2. Scales & Arpeggios
  3. Exam pieces
    • Revised repertoire lists along with a revised list structure with lists defined by musical characteristics rather than existing lists grouped by period of composition
    • More choice and variety of repertoire (30 pieces per grade)
    • A duet option from Initial Grade to Grade 3. Students may refer to the New Piano Star Duets for choice pieces

That’s all you need to know in short. The new syllabus will take effect on January 1st, 2021, available for download here:

Apart from that, due to current year’s examination delays caused by the Covid-19 situation, there will be a one-year overlap period, with the 2019 & 2020 syllabus valid until December 31st, 2021. However, all three pieces and the scales requirements must be prepared from the same syllabus. Cherry picking (mixed selections) between 2019 & 2020 and 2021 & 2022 syllabus are not allowed.

Another step taken by ABRSM (emerging from the situation of Covid-19) is the announcement they made in May 2020 that online practical graded music exams with a focus on performance will be made available to students in the UK from August 2020. The exams will be for all instruments and grades and will use existing repertoire and resources. These exams, though only available in UK for now, will eventually be rolled out in stages to students in other countries in the near future.

These performance-focused graded music exams will be assessed remotely based on a recorded (video) submission. This is similar to the approach taken by Rockschool of London (RSL) just a few months back. All the pieces played must be recorded in a single (non-stop) take.

To learn more about Performance Grading, visit

With effect from 1 January 2021, the repertoire lists in the new Piano syllabus 2021 & 2022 are for use in both existing practical graded music exams and in the newly announced remotely-assessed, performance-focused grading.

Purchase the new 2021 & 2022 Exam pieces here.

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