I have taken the grade 8 ABRSM theory exam twice now and have failed by a couple of marks. My main weakness is question 2: completing the piano extract. Has anyone got any tips on how to complete this question or any tips in general for the whole exam.

My next weakness is the symphonic extract question, what sort of stuff did people do to get very good at answering all these questions?

Any help or opinions will be greatly appreciated!


  • There are books published which specifically address ABRSM theory. 'Music Theory in Practice', Eric Taylor is your saviour.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 8:43
  • @Tim Unfortunately Eric Taylor doesn't have one for grades 6, 7 or 8. I bought the ABRSM grade 7 Music Theory in Practice (by a different author) and found to my horror that it wasn't even based on the same syllabus as the exam, despite the grade 7 syllabus not being changed since 1999. Don't know if the grade 8 is any better. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 9:12
  • @ShannonDuncan - thanks for the info. That must be why I only have grade V. I'd be asking for money back regarding the other book!
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


I tackled the symphonic extract question by buying as many past papers as I could lay my hands on and working through them. Along the way, I made a list of all the subjects that the questions included (terms, transposition, history, form analysis etc.) and then spent time learning as much as I could on each of those subjects. It takes a lot of time, but it's worth it in the end. All the best with your grade 8!

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