Enter for your Popular Music Theory exam in four quick steps

The next deadline is 1 May

Popular Music Theory Grade 5

For Popular Music Theory Grade 5, you'll learn the unique instrumental techniques and technology exclusive to various popular music genres, and continue to make headway with harmony, notation and theory.

Key Skills at Grade 5

What you'll learn at Grade 5:

  • Intricate music notation, time signatures and note values
  • Intricate elements of popular music harmony
  • Instrumental components and notation, techniques and stylistic traits
  • How to analyse, identify and modify music notation, harmony, stylistic traits and
  • instrumental characteristics within a multi-instrumental score
  • How to interpret a score to make appropriate harmony choices for improvised music and
  • interpret improvisational directions

What You're Marked On

Your Popular Music Theory Grade 5 exam lasts 120 minutes and is split into four key sections.

Music Notation

At Grade 5 you will cover the following aspects of music notation:

  • Understanding rhythm: halving and doubling rhythmic values, 6/8 and 12/8, half notes and triplets
  • Understanding pitch: 15ma and 15mb symbols, ledger lines
  • Understanding dynamics and articulation: fp, and spf
  • Re-writing scores with a new time signature
  • Understanding the use of key signatures and accidentals in major and minor scales

Popular Music Harmony

At Grade 5 you will cover the following aspects of popular music harmony:

  • Identifying intervals: minor 6th and 7ths
  • Scale identification: harmonic minor scale
  • Applying scale knowledge
  • Adding accidentals to scales: major and minor
  • Writing scales with the correct clef, key signature, and accidentals (where appropriate)

Band Knowledge

At Grade 5 you will cover the following aspects of band knowledge:

  • Identification of drum kit parts
  • Recognising genre-specific techniques applied to all instrumental disciplines
  • Identification of guitar and bass guitar parts
  • Understanding the use of technology with band instruments
  • Identification of keys: acoustic and electronic piano keyboards

Band Analysis

At Grade 5 you will cover the following aspects of band analysis:

  • Understanding scores with up to five different instruments
  • Recognising keys
  • Understanding instrument-specific techniques
  • Chord analysis, including inversions
  • Scale identification
  • Understanding various types of notation


Your Grade 5 exam lasts 120 minutes. Candidates are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before their exam starts.

Get Started Today!

You can start working towards your Grade 5 exam now! Simply buy or Debut – Grade 5 Guidebook and corresponding Grade 5 Workbook book below and start preparing alongside your music teacher.

If you don't have a music teacher that can help you with music theory, you can quickly find the perfect teacher nearest to you with our handy find a music teacher map.

Books for Popular Music Theory Grade 5

  • Guidebook Debut - Grade 5 Book Cover Guidebook Grade 5 - Grade 5

    Rockschool's Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers.

  • Workbook Grade 5 Book Cover Workbook Grade 5

    The Rockschool Grade 5 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 5 theory exam.

  • Workbook Grade 6 Book Cover Workbook Grade 6

    The Rockschool Grade 6 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 6 theory exam.

  • Workbook Grade 7 Book Cover Workbook Grade 7

    The Rockschool Grade 7 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 7 theory exam.