Music Exam Rules & Assessment Guidelines

International Music Exams has the following rules and guidelines in place to ensure an equitable and universal examination system.

Please review this information before recording or enrolling in a MUSX exam.

The Exam

MUSX candidates may present graded music from a syllabus of their choice.

Regardless of the source of this music, the following requirements must be met to be assessed.

  • Each exam must have a minimum of 3 pieces from one syllabus of their choice.
  • Each exam can have a maximum of 5 pieces.
  • Any work after the required 3 pieces can be the students own choice and must be of a similar level, or higher.
  • At least one piece must be unaccompanied.
  • For syllabuses that include accompanied pieces, at least one piece must include accompaniment.
  • Technical work, appropriate to the level of the exam, is optional with up to 10 scales or exercises.
  • The duration of the exam video recording must be within the allotted time for each grade level.

Exam Duration

There is a maximum time limit for each exam.

  • Preliminary — 10 minutes
  • Grade One — 11 minutes
  • Grade Two — 12 minutes
  • Grade Three — 13 minutes
  • Grade Four — 14 minutes
  • Grade Five — 15 minutes
  • Grade Six — 17 minutes
  • Grade Seven — 20 minutes
  • Grade Eight — 25 minutes
  • Certificate — 30 minutes
  • Associate — 40 minutes
  • Licentiate — 45 minutes

Music Exams Assessment Guidelines

International Music Exams guarantee assessment by a specialist examiner for each instrument.

Candidates will receive comments on the broad aspects and specific elements of music as listed below. Other performance components of the candidate’s presentation may also be referenced at the discretion of the individual examiner.

The level of competency in each of these areas should be relevant to the repertoire chosen for each particular grade level against our assessement outcomes below.


Assessment — Broad Aspects of Performance
Aspect Description
accuracy the level of precision and realisation in interpreting the notation
fluency the ease and control of musical elements
technique the effective mastery of the instrument, appropriate to the level of repertoire chosen
interpretation an understanding of the music including style, specific characteristics and a historical perspective
expression the considered use of musical elements
communication to convey expression, insight and a sense of performance
balanced program varied repertoire to show a depth of musical understanding and command over the elements of music
audience engagement The ability to demonstrate musicality, maturity, conviction and confidence
Assessment — Specific Elements of Performance
Element Description
rhythm the organisation of music in time with a coherent pulse
pitch melody, harmony and intonation
timbre the density of layers of sounds including ensemble balance
dynamics the realisation and range of relative volumes
intonation the precision of pitch
articulation the characteristics of the attack, duration and decay of sound
structure or form the sections or movements of a piece
tempo the speed of the music
Assessment Outcomes
Percentage Descriptor
90-100 Distinction
70-89 Honours
50-69 Merit
0-49 Participation

Examiner Guidelines

All candidates will be treated with courtesy, respect and dignity. International Music Exams assess musical performance and acknowledge that music is by its very nature subjective. Each examiner will express their expert opinion and communicate their assessment in a positive and attentive manner. International Music Exams assess with reference to specific musical aspects and elements that are considered within a larger context.

International Music Exams candidates are not compared to one another, results are not standardised and the final independent decision rests with the examiner.

In addition to the written comments, the possible assessment outcomes for each exam include:

  • Distinction
  • Honours
  • Merit
  • Participation

The ultimate task of the examiner is to observe, comment on and assess each individual examination. A universal assessment outcome is awarded for each examination which will represent the overall impression of the performance along with specific written observations. Each candidate will receive an examiner’s report, including comments and assessment, as well as an International Music Exams certificate.