What happens in the Associated Board exam?

The examiner will present the candidate with a brand new piece of music set at the specific level for that examination. The candidate will be asked to play either a piece on tuned percussion or on the candidate’s other choice of instrument (Timpani or Snare Drum). The candidate is normally allowed 30 seconds to scan through the music and also try out any particular areas they choose. The examiner will then ask the candidate to play the music. You will only get one attempt to play the music!


Marks will probably be awarded for:


  1. fluency of music reading
  2. playing the music at the correct speed indicated
  3. attention to dynamics marked on the music
  4. confidence in performance

This can be a very daunting situation for any young player, but if the candidate has practised their sight-reading skills on a regular basis then this section of the exam can be approached with confidence, and this will inevitably result in a higher mark being awarded for their exam.


Please refer to the Associated Board Percussion syllabus (page 73) for more details. The Associated Board Percussion syllabus books contain a couple of sight-reading examples for each grade. Sight Reading Central provides the candidate with 3 more pages of specific sight-reading examples which can be purchased singularly for every grade.