Practice Sight Reading and Quick Study for
ABRSM Music Exams

Many find sight reading intimidating as it involves playing a short piece of music that the candidate has not seen before after up to 30 seconds of preparation time in graded exams.

As a piano teacher, I love teaching sight reading.  With a bit of determination, practice and good instruction during piano lessons, everyone can be competent sight readers!

How do I practice sight reading?

Sight reading is a multi-tasking activity - learning to do each activity well and concurrently determines the success.  Start slowly but accurately and increase the tempo only when confident.

Sight Reading Tips:

  1. Read notes quickly and accurately
  2. Play the piano while keeping eyes on the score
  3. Read ahead of what you are playing
  4. Keep the rhythm even when you hit a wrong note
  5. Keep the beat or pulse at all costs
  6. Keep hand positions that reflect the key of the piece

One book that I recommend is Improve Your Sight Reading by Paul Harris.  Used correctly and regularly, I've seen many students improve leaps and bounds in sight reading.

Those who practice sight reading well do a lot better in exams!  They also learn new pieces quickly.

In higher grades, sight reading pieces come with a descriptive title. To get that extra edge, play the music in a way that suits the title. For example, a piece entitled "The Stream" may be played in a smooth and flowing manner.

Graded ABRSM Sight Reading Marking 

Sight reading carries a weightage of 21 out of 150 marks.

Minimum to pass (14-16):

Steady beat
Outline in place
Awareness of key and time

To get a good mark (17-18):

Steady beat
Suitable tempo
Mostly accurate

To get a very good mark (19-21):

Fluent
Musical
Attention to detail

Information on Graded ABRSM music exams marking:

ABRSM Exam Pieces

ABRSM Scales

ABRSM Aural



Sight Reading and Quick Study Lessons

Teaching piano for many years now, I see great value in helping students become proficient and confident in sight reading and quick study.  It is such a great advantage when students are able to learn pieces on their own and progress at a faster pace. 

While sight reading is a small component in graded exams, it is a crucial part of ABRSM piano diploma exams. 

If you are interested in sight reading or quick study lessons, just send me an email below.

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› ABRSM Sight Reading Marking