Rock Guitar Grade Exam Syllabus

The Rock exams focus on the musical skills specifically needed by rock guitarists.
There are 10 levels of rock guitar exam, starting with Initial Stage and then Preliminary Grade for beginner and novice players, followed by 8 levels of grade exam.

These are just a quick view of what chords, scales, techniques you will need to know. However you should purchase the RGT rock playing books to accompany your learning.

Index

Here are some quick links to jump to the relevant sections you wish to study:

Initial Stage
Preliminary
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8

Initial Stage

Prepared Performances: you choose and perform:

• A natural minor scale – 1 octave.
• E pentatonic minor scale – 1 octave.
• Minor chords – Am, Em.
• Fifth (power) chords – A5, E5.
• Major chords – D, G (4-string version).

Initial Stage Videos

Preliminary Grade

Prepared Performances: you will need to be able to perform:

• A pentatonic minor scale – 1 octave.
• E blues scale – 1 octave.
• G major scale – 1 octave.
• Minor chords – Am, Em.
• Fifth (power) chords – A5, D5, E5.
• Major chords – G, C, D.
Aural Assessment: you repeat the rhythm of an unseen riff and identify which of two notes is the highest.

Preliminary Grade Videos

Grade 1

Any TWO of these songs:
• Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
• Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
• Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
AND
Open position chords are expected at this grade, except where marked *.
• Major chords – G, C, D
• Minor chords – Am, Em
• Dominant 7th chords – D7
• Fifth (power) chords – A5, B5*, C5*, D5, E5, F5*, G5*
AND
Improvisation using the following two-octave scales is expected at this grade.
• G pentatonic major (open position)
• E blues (open position)
• A pentatonic minor (fretted)

Grade 1 Videos

Grade 2

Any TWO of these:
• Day Tripper – The Beatles
• Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
• Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash
AND
Open position chords are expected at this grade, except for the partial-barré chords marked *.
• Major chords – A, C, D, E, F*, G
• Minor chords – Am, Dm, Em, F#m*
• Dominant 7th chords – A7, D7, E7
Improvisation using the following two-octave fretted scales is expected at this grade.
• A pentatonic major
• A blues
• A natural minor

Grade 2 Videos

Grade 3

Any TWO of these:
• All Right Now – Free
• Paranoid – Black Sabbath
• Pinball Wizard – The Who
AND
Major and minor barré chords and fi fth (power) chords with root notes of:
• G, A, B, C,D, E
AND
Improvisation using the following two-octave fretted scales is expected at this grade.
• G major
• A blues
• B pentatonic minor
• C pentatonic major
• D natural minor

Grade 3 Videos

Grade 4

Any TWO of these:
• Layla – Derek and the Dominos
• All Along the Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
• Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
• Walk This Way – Aerosmith
AND
Major and minor barré chords and fi fth (power) chords at any pitch.
At this grade, candidates are also expected to be able to use the following two-octave fretted scales in any key for improvisation:
• Pentatonic minor, natural minor, major, pentatonic major, blues.

Grade 4 Videos

Grade 5

Any TWO of these:
• The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
• Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
• Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
• Always With Me, Always With You – Joe Satriani
AND
Chords at any pitch:
• All chords from the previous grade, plus:
• Dominant 7 chords
• Sus4 chords
• Flat fi fth (power) chords, sharp fi fth (power) chords.
All scales from the previous grade (i.e. pentatonic minor, natural minor, major, pentatonic major and blues in any key). In addition, some movement across the fingerboard would be expected by this level – so being able to improvise using the scales listed above in two different fingerboard positions is recommended at this grade.

Grade 5 Videos

Grade 6

Any THREE of these:
• Albatross – Fleetwood Mac
• Parisienne Walkways – Gary Moore
• Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
• You Really Got Me – Van Halen
• Toxicity – System of a Down
• Justin – Korn
AND
Chords at any pitch:
• All chords listed for previous grades, plus:
• Minor 7 chords
• Major 7 chords
• Diminished 7 chords
• Dominant 7sus4 chords
All scales from the previous grades (i.e. pentatonic minor, natural minor, major, pentatonic major and blues in any key). At this grade, candidates are expected to demonstrate fluent movement across the fretboard when improvising, equivalent to at least three different fretboard scale positions. In addition, some practical demonstration of the use of arpeggios (or ‘chord tones’) is expected.

Grade 6 Videos

Grade 7

Any THREE of these:
• Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
• Samba Pa Ti – Santana
• The Trooper – Iron Maiden
• Private Investigations – Dire Straits
• Seek And Destroy – Metallica
AND
• All chords from the previous grades, plus:
• Commonly used ‘slash’ (i.e. ‘non-root’ bass) chords
All scales from the previous grades (i.e. pentatonic minor, natural minor, major, pentatonic major and blues in any key). At this grade, candidates are expected to demonstrate fluent movement across the fretboard when improvising, equivalent to at least four different fretboard positions of these scales. In addition, candidates may choose to use other scale options over parts of the chord progressions – such as the Dorian modal scale, the Mixolydian modal scale or the harmonic minor scale. Practical demonstration of the use of arpeggios (or ‘chord tones’) is expected.

Grade 7 Videos

Grade 8

Any THREE of these:
• Savoy – Jeff Beck
• Satch Boogie – Joe Satriani
• The Spirit of Radio – Rush
• Bat Country – Avenged Sevenfold
• Frank – Steve Vai
AND
All chords from the previous grades, plus:
• All minor 7b5, dominant 9, minor 9 and dominant 7b9 chords.
At this grade, candidates are expected to be able to use the pentatonic minor, natural minor, major, pentatonic major and blues scales fluently across the entire fingerboard in any key for improvisation. In addition, the harmonic minor, Dorian and Mixolydian modal scales might be used in passages within some progressions. Fluent demonstration of the use of arpeggios (or ‘chord tones’) and, where musically appropriate, chromaticism is also expected.

Grade 7 Videos

FINAL SECTION: Aural Assessment

(From Preliminary Grade onwards)

Preliminary Grade
Candidates will be given two tests that involve repeating the rhythm of an unseen riff and identifying which of two notes is the highest.
Grades 1 – 8
Candidates’ aural abilities will be assessed using aural tests based on rock-orientated music styles. The tests will increase in complexity as the grades develop.

Rhythm Test
A riff will be played three times. During the third playing the candidate is required to clap along with the exact rhythm of the riff. The rhythmic complexity and length will increase as the grades progress.

Pitch Test
The riff from the rhythm test is played two further times with a click track. A gap is left after each playing, so that the candidate can briefly practise the riff. Then, the candidate is required to play along with a click track, accurately reproducing the riff on guitar.

Chord recognition test
At Grades 1 to 3, this test involves recognising and identifying chord types and movement between chords. From Grade 4 onwards, an unseen four-bar chord progression is played four times. During the fourth playing the candidate is required to play along, accurately reproducing the chords on guitar. The range of chords used increases as the grades progress.

Comments are closed.