Review: Grade 5 Music Theory Practice Papers

It’s now been nearly a year since ABRSM revised their Music Theory syllabus in order to adapt to their new online exams. Their own Discovering Music Theory workbooks (a refresh of Music Theory in Practice) have proved popular, although they were perhaps slow to produce sample papers for the new exams.

Whilst the exams themselves have received a mixed reaction, it seems like they’re here to stay. Many have lamented the lack of music writing in ABRSM Music Theory exams, and the online platform for delivering the new exams has not been without issue.

The book, which at 75 pages, is a substantial volume, contains six Grade 5 Music Theory question papers with the answer booklets available to download from the Hal Leonard website. When I received this book for review, my assumption was that it was practice papers for ABRSM Grade 5 Theory, though I note that they are suitable ‘all examination boards, including ABRSM and TCL’.

So, what do these papers offer?

The first thing to say is that they do indeed reflect both ABRSM and Trinity Grade 5 Music Theory exams. That said, they include music writing such as transposition, scales and rhythms which, so far as I can make out, doesn’t reflect the new ABRSM online Grade 5 Music Theory exam. In that sense, they are far more closely aligned to Trinity.

Section 5: Musical Nuts and Bolts

With that in mind, I wouldn’t like to say these are either ABRSM sample papers or Trinity sample papers. They aren’t LCM sample papers either. They are exactly what they say on the front cover: practice papers for someone working at around Grade 5 level. The book also suggests they could prove useful for students working towards GCSE or A-Level Music.

On a positive note, the content is very clearly presented. I’d like to commend the fact the book is printed on nice thick paper which is a consideration some publishers often overlook when it comes to music theory workbooks.

I suspect that despite the fact this isn’t what the book claims to be, many people will buy it expecting it to contain six ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory practice papers. As I say, it contains six useful practice papers for someone working around Grade 5 level, perhaps useful for students not specifically working towards one of the boards’ theory exams.

Alto clef


I think that at £6.99 the book is pretty good value. For comparison a set of four ABRSM Grade 5 sample papers and answers cost around £10.00. If you’re clear what you’re getting, this is a really useful book to help students consolidate their music theory knowledge up to Grade 5. Finally, to quote Ben Andrews’s introduction:

“theory is for life, not just exams.”

Grade 5 Music Theory Practice Papers by Ben Andrew, is published by Hal Leonard, ISBN 9781705123058, priced £6.99.

I was sent a review copy of this book free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.

Pin for later:

Review: Grade 5 Music Theory Practice Papers - Pinterest graphic