One of the most popular exam choices for RGT guitar tutors and candidates alike when it comes to choosing an appropriate exam and course of musical study, the Acoustic Guitar syllabus is one of the fastest growing RGT exam pathways.
Featuring levels of study from Initial Stage exams up to Acoustic Guitar Teaching Diploma exams, the RGT Acoustic Guitar syllabus has something for guitarists of every level of ability who are seeking to improve their abilities and knowledge of the Acoustic Guitar.
In this overview article, you will be looking into the requirements for the RGT Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Feel free to bookmark this page and come back when necessary as you study the various sections of this exam with your teacher or with your student and in your personal practice and weekly guitar lessons
Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Intro
The RGT Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam is geared towards candidates that are older than 10 years of age, with the exam lasting approximately 16 minutes.
While it is suggested that candidates study for and perform this exam on an Acoustic (Flattop) guitar, the use of a nylon string is perfectly acceptable.
Whilst the use of an electric (solidbody) guitar for any Acoustic Guitar Exam will be allowed, it is not recommended in place of an Acoustic or Classical Guitar.
There are five main sections to the Grade 3 RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam, Fingerboard Knowledge, Performance, Musical Knowledge, Accompaniment, and Aural Assessment, which are explored in more detail below.
When brought together, these separate sections of the exam are designed to introduce guitarists to new scales and chord shapes on the guitar, enhancing performance ability through the study of chord progressions and melodic lines, and increasing one’s knowledge of the instrument, aural skills and related music theory concepts.
Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam Breakdown
To provide you with a deeper understanding of what is required from this exam, we have put together a detailed outline for the five (5) main section of the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 3 Exam.
All of these items can also be found in the RGT Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam Handbook, and it is recommended that any candidate taking this exam purchase and work through this book with their preparations.
The exam entry form is also contained in the book, which you are required to fill out and submit before registering for this or any RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Every section of the exam differs in the amount of marks awarded for each requirement.
To give you an understanding on how many marks each section is worth, here is a quick breakdown of each section that you can keep as a reference when preparing for the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 3 Exam.
- Fingerboard Knowledge 10 Marks
- Performance 50 Marks
- Musical Knowledge 10 Marks
- Accompaniment 20 Marks
- Aural Assessment 10 Marks
As you can see in this layout, using this division of marks will help you organize your practice time, as you can spend more time preparing for the sections that are worth more marks, and less time on sections that have less marks in order to ensure that you have spent enough time on each section of the exam relevant to the marks awarded for that section.
During the first section of the exam, the examiner will ask for a selection of chords and scales to be performed by the candidate from memory.
For the chord section, each requested chord should be slowly strummed once by the candidate. The scales should be played ascending and descending without repeating the top note of the scale when changing directions in the scale.
In the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam, you will be required to have knowledge of the chords and scales from the previous three exams, as well as a number of new chords and scales to be chosen by the examiner in this exam.
New required material consists of Asus2, Dsus2, Fsus2, Asus4, Csus4, Dsus4, Esus4, Fsus4, and Gsus4 open-position chords, as well as two-octave positions for the G Major, A Natural Minor and A Mixolydian Modal scales.
Remember, while playing the correct chord is very important, there is a strong importance placed on chord clarity and scale evenness, so make sure to practice these aspects of your playing in your studies before attempting this exam.
If you have already taken the earlier exams then many of the items required in this section will be review for you at this point in your development. This will allow you to focus more of your attention in the practice room on the other four sections of the Grade 3 exam.
If this is your first RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam, then more time will be needed to fully ensure that you are secure with each of the chords and scales from this section, both the new requirements and those included in the previous three exams.
The Performance requirements for the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam are divided into two separate sections, the Rhythm Study which is worth up to 25 marks, and a Solo Piece, which is worth up to 25 marks for the piece that the candidate chooses to perform from these two selections.
The Rhythm Study and Solo Piece from this section of the exam can be read from the Grade 3 Handbook, as they are not required to be memorized in order to achieve full marks for this section of the exam.
Candidates will need to prepare one of the Rhythm Studies from the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam Book, as they will be asked to perform this piece unaccompanied during the exam.
The Solo Piece component of this exam can be chosen from the songs presented in the Grade 3 Exam Book, (Double Thumb Special – G major, Red Haired Boy – A Mixolydian, Get Sussed – D major, Athol Highlanders – A Mixolydian) or can be a “free choice” or “self-composed” piece of at least a similar technical standard and duration to the melodies found in the exam handbook.
You can find more details about these free choices at the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 3 Exam Page.
As there are two pieces to be performed during the Performance section of the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam (one rhythm study and one solo piece), each piece is worth a maximum of 25 marks, for a total of 50 for this performance section.
As you can see, the Performance section of the exam is worth 50 out of a total 100 marks, and therefore it is recommended that you spend enough time in the practice room to fully prepare to be successful during this section of the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
If you have already taken the Grade 1 or Grade 2 Acoustic Guitar Exams, then you will be familiar with the overall concept of this section of the Grade 3 Exam. Though here, there are some differences from the musical knowledge sections of previous exams.
Questions in this section will be asked to test the candidate’s knowledge of the solo pieces performed (e.g. key, time signature, understanding of dynamics and repeat marks, techniques used).
Because of this change, working with your teacher in order to understand the building blocks and formal aspects of the pieces you play will be beneficial when it comes to this section of the Grade 3 Exam.
In this section of the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam, the examiner will play a short melody and the candidate will provide the accompaniment for this melody.
The melody presented here could be drawn from one of a range of musical styles that you would normally associate with the acoustic guitar, including traditional folk, contemporary folk and blues.
After the chord chart is presented to the candidate, and they are given a short time to look it over, the examiner will play the melody through once and you may listen and follow along during this first run through.
The melody will then be played three more times without stopping as the candidate attempts a suitable accompaniment over the melody. In the first verse of the three continuous playings your playing will not be assessed.
You can either sit and listen to the melody or practice your rhythm playing during this first verse of the three. The style of accompaniment will be left up to the discretion of the candidate, and they can choose to either fingerpick or strum the chords along to the melody.
For the Grade 3 Exam, the time signature will be limited to 4/4 and 3/4 time.
The Aural Assessment section of the Grade 3 exam will be relatively familiar for those candidates that have already taken the Preliminary and Grade 1 and Grade 2 Acoustic Guitar Exams.
Here, you will be tested on your aural abilities via five individual tests appropriate for this grade level.
Tests A, B and C – In this section, a four-bar melody will be played and the tests will involve clapping the pulse of the melody, identifying the time signature of the same melody, and well as reproducing the rhythm of an extract taken from the melody.
Test D – Here, you will reproduce on guitar a short melodic phrase after the examiner has performed it twice for you on their instrument.
Test E – The final aural assessment test involves recognizing chords and movement between chords appropriate for this grade level.
Since aural skills are often a weak point for developing acoustic guitarists, spending time in each lesson and practice session will help prepare you to be successful in this section of the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Exam Quick Tips
To help you prepare and give you further insights into the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when studying for and sitting this exam.
1. Though we all have fun working on the performance pieces for this exam, the Aural Assessment, Musical Knowledge and Fingerboard Knowledge sections add up to 30 marks, while each piece is worth 25. This can help you focus your attention in the practice room when preparing for every section of this exam.
2. Make sure that you test your knowledge of each chord for this exam. As there are a number of sus2 and sus4 chords, candidates can sometimes mix up root notes in the exam. So ensure that you practice these chords out of order to make sure you are prepared to perform them on exam day.
3. When choosing your solo piece, it is always better to play a piece that you find easy to play well in the exam, rather than over challenge yourself and perform a more technically challenging piece poorly on the day.
To find out more about the Accompaniment section of the Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam, please refer to the RGT Acoustic Guitar Accompaniment Grade 3 Book now available.
To find out more about the RGT Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam, please visit the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam page, or feel free to read and download the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam Handbook and the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam Syllabus from the RGT website as well.
Not a Registered RGT Teacher yet? Visit the Join the RGT Page to find out the great benefits that membership has to offer.
Have you taken or taught a Grade 3 Acoustic Guitar Exam? Share your thoughts or questions about this exam in the COMMENTS section below.