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Which Exam Board for my piano exams? Trinity or ABRSM?: Components Part 1

What is ABRSM and Trinity Exam Boards?

ABRSM and Trinity Exam Boards are exam boards which assess piano players and other instrumentalists ability on an international level. Both have an equal weighting in terms of the UK qualification regulator OFQUAL which checks the attainment level of all exam boards in the UK.

To see more about this please look at the following link:

What are the different parts of the exam?


For ABRSM the different components of the exam are mandatory. The components that you have to do include:

Different Components for ABRSM

1 A Piece

1 B Piece

1 C piece

Technical exercises - Scales and arpeggios


Aural tests


For Trinity the different components are flexible. The components that you can choose from include:

Different Components for Trinity

Any 3 pieces from Trinity Repertoire (for initial grade - grade 5)

Scales and arpeggios and 3 exercises

Choice of - sight-reading, aural tests, improvisation and musical knowledge (initial grade - grade 5)

What are the differences in terms of the pieces?


For ABRSM the A pieces are normally baroque, the B pieces are normally classical or romantic and the C pieces are normally modern.


Whereas for Trinity the pieces are mix of classical, jazz, pop, film and TV and video game music. You can choose whichever selection of pieces you want to do for initial to grade 5 for Trinity.

What are the differences in terms of pieces books?


For Trinity there are a couple of types of books. The first book has a selection of 12 pieces and a selection of 6 exercises. Alternatively, the second book has a selection of 21 pieces, a selection of 6 exercises and scales.


For ABRSM there is a repertoire book you can get which has 9 pieces (3A, 3B and 3C.) Alternatively, if there is not a piece you would like to play in the selection of 9 pieces you can get other books which are at the back of the ABRSM repertoire book.

What are the differences in terms of sight-reading books?

For Trinity there is also sight-reading books you can get initial grade - grade 2 or grade 3 - grade 5 or grade 6 - grade 8. Or for ABRSM there is choice of 2 books that will help you prepare for sight-reading component of the exam.

For sight-reading there is Improve Your Sight-reading series by Paul Harris or there is Specimen sight-reading tests by ABRSM.

Improve Your Sight-Reading books get you prepared from the standard of sight-reading to the grade you are working level of sight-reading

What are the differences in terms of aural tests books?

There is aural tests books for Trinity as well such as initial grade - grade 5 or grade 6 - grade 8.

Also, for ABRSM you can get aural tests book such as grades 1 - 3, grade 4 -5, grade 6, grade 7 and grade 8 books.

What are the technical exercises for Trinity?

The technical exercises are 6 short pieces. They are divided into 3 groups and you can choose 1 technical exercise from each group. Each technical exercises has a different role in measuring the ability of the student.


For the components it depends on what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your preferences are and what type of music you like.

If your strengths and preferences include playing pop music or a mixture of popular music and classical music then Trinity exam board is the best choice for you.

If your strengths and preferences include mainly classical music then ABRSM is the best choice for you.

If your weaknesses are singing then the Trinity exam board might be for you as you don't have to sing in any of the aural tests between initial grade to grade 8.

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