Acoustic Guitar Exams

These officially accredited and internationally recognised exams offer a formal recognition of the specific talents of acoustic guitar players. The exams include options for both fingerstyle and plectrum players.

Exam Levels

10 exam grades are available, ranging from Step 1 (for beginners) up to Grade 8 (for aspiring professional musicians & teachers).
Download an Exam Information Booklet to see the requirements of each grade.

A range of professional Acoustic Guitar Teaching Diplomas is available.

Acoustic Guitar Performance Awards

Candidates who prefer not to take a full grade exam can instead opt for an Acoustic Guitar Performance Award, which focuses entirely on the performance of prepared pieces. Performance Awards can be performed at an exam centre, or alternatively candidates can submit a video recording of themselves playing the pieces.

See our Acoustic Guitar Performance Awards webpage for more information.

What Happens During An Exam?

The examiner will begin by asking you to play a selection of chords and scales. The examiner will then ask you to play through your chosen studies and/or pieces (you have the option to play melodies and pieces of your own choosing).

At Grades One to Eight, the examiner will ask you a few spoken questions to test your knowledge of the instrument and the music performed; this is followed by a test to assess your accompaniment skills (by playing through a chord chart while the examiner plays a melody).

From Step 2 onwards, the exam will conclude with the examiner testing your 'ear for music' by giving you a selection of aural assessments.

Exam Handbooks

RGT@LCM publishes a course handbook with CD for each grade that provides explanations and examples of all the information required for the exam. From Grade 3 onwards, candidates can also play pieces of their own choosing - a list showing examples of pieces of the appropriate standard for each grade is provided here.

There is no requirement to read traditionally notated music as all music is written in easy-to-read TAB, as well as traditional notation. CD examples are provided so you can 'listen and learn'.

This series of Handbooks establishes a structured and comprehensive method of studying the acoustic guitar. They are available from many good music/book stores or online at the LCM online shop.

Benefits of Taking an RGT@LCM Exam

  • Gain a useful and internationally recognised qualification.
  • Find out, via a reliable and independent assessment, what standard your playing is.
  • Achieve your playing potential by setting yourself a clear target to aspire to.
  • Preparing for the exam will help you develop all aspects of your playing in a structured way, increase your knowledge of guitar techniques and music theory.

List of suggested alternative pieces for Performance section

At grades where a 'free choice' option is available, candidates are allowed to select a piece of their own choice (self-composed or otherwise) providing it is of at least similar standard to the set pieces within the grade. Some suggestions for suitable free choices pieces are provided below, but there is no compulsion to select one of these particular pieces.

The grade listed for each alternative piece is for general guidance only - to demonstrate the typical grade of each piece when performed reasonably well - but candidates should note that grade differentiation is primarily by performance standard rather than purely by the piece chosen, therefore a piece may be suitable for a lower or higher grade depending upon the level of the actual performance. For example, at Grade Three a high level of stylistic interpretation and expression is not expected, but if a piece listed at this grade was performed fluently and accurately with flair, character and style it could quite appropriately be entered for a higher grade.

In order to make obtaining musical material easy for candidates, the list is deliberately biased towards pieces for which good quality transcriptions/arrangements are readily available usually in both standard notation and tablature, often with the inclusion of a demonstration CD.

Mississippi Delta Blues Fingerstyle Solos (inc. tab and CD) by Larry McCabe

G3 - Backwater Blues
G4 - Red Pineapple Blues
G4 - Mississippi Moan
G4 - Salty Dog Blues
G4 - Saint James Infirmary
G4 - Careless Love
G4 - Midnight Special

Eric Clapton Fingerstyle Guitar Collection (inc. tab) by Marcel Robinson

G4 - Wonderful Tonight
G4 - Layla
G4 - Let It Grow
G6 - Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
G6 - Tears In Heaven

Total Giltrap (inc. tab and CD) by Gordon Giltrap

G5 - Beachcomber
G5 - A Christmas Carol
G7 - Who Knows Where Tomorrow Goes
G7 - From The Four Winds
G7 - Prelude To Pastoral
G7 - The Mariner's Tale
G7 - Shady Tales
G8 - Lucky

Easy Celtic Solos For Fingerstyle Guitar (inc. tab and CD) by Lisle Crowley

G5 - Father Kelly's Jig
G5 - The Banks Of The Suir
G6 - The Bantry Girl's Lament
G5 - Boulavugue
G6 - Dingle Regatta
G7 - The Doon
G6 - Lanigan's Ball
G6 - Red Is The Rose
G6 - Star Of The County Down
G6 - The Liverpool Hornpipe
G6 - Wellington's Advance
G7 - O Danny Boy

Classic Rock For Fingerstyle Guitar (inc. tab) by various artists

G4 - Hotel California
G5 - Layla
G5 - Desperado
G5 - Killing Me Softly With His Song
G6 - Tears In Heaven

Classic Rock For Flatpick Guitar (inc. tab) by various artists

G3 - Take It Easy
G3 - Brown Eyed Girl
G4 - Have You Ever Seen The Rain
G4 - Your Song
G5 - Freebird

John Renbourn Fingerstyle Guitar (inc. tab and 3 CDs) by John Renbourn

G6 - Bunyan's Hymn
G7 - The South Wind
G7 - The Blarney Pilgrim
G7 - Anji
G8 - Transfusion

Tommy Emmanuel Fingerstyle Guitar Method (inc. tab and CD) by Tommy Emmanuel

G7 - Mr. Guitar
G7 - Dixie McGuire

Ten Best Tracks for Acoustic Guitar ( by Chaz Hart

G3 - Apple Pie Blues
G4 - Mark's Folly
G5 - Step By Step

Blues Guitar 101 (inc. tab and CD) by Duck Barker

G5 - E Blues #1
G6 - E Blues #2
G6 - Sister Kate
G7 - Baby Let Me Follow You Down
G7 - The Jackson Stomp
G7 - Blues in A
G7 - Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor
G7 - Deep Blue C
G8 - Seven Point One
G8 - Still Staggerin'
G8 - The Dirtman Cometh
G8 - The Mighty Midget

Fingerpicking Beatles (inc. tab) by Eric Schoenberg

G4 - All My Loving (Version 1)
G5 - I Feel Fine
G6 - I Should Have Known Better
G7 - Things We said Today
G6 - Hey Jude
G7 - Your Mother Should Know
G7 - Here there and Everywhere
G7 - Lady Madonna
G8 - Blackbird

Acoustic Blues Guitar (inc. tab and CD) by Kenny Sultan

G4 - The Harmony Shuffle
G5 - Hey Hey
G5 - Filthy Rich
G6 - West Coast Blues
G6 - Cincinnati Flow Rag

Solo Pieces for Acoustic Guitar (including TAB and CD) by various artists, arranged by Mark Currey

G3 - Mad World (Tears For Fears)
G4 - Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
G4 - Shape of My Heart (Sting)
G5 - Knowing Me, Knowing You (Abba)
G5 - Light My Fire (The Doors)
G5 - Speed of Sound (Coldplay)
G6 - Golden Brown (The Stranglers)
G6 - Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
G6 - Lovin' You (Minnie Ripperton)

Solo Pieces for Acoustic Guitar Vol Two (including TAB and CD) by various artists, arranged by Mark Currey

G4 - Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
G4 - If You Could Read My Mind (Gordon Lightfoot)
G5 - Angie (The Rolling Stones)
G6 - Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul Simon)
G6 - Let It Grow (Eric Clapton)
G6 - Unintended (Muse)
G7 - Love of My Life (Queen)

Exam Accreditation

RGT@LCM acoustic guitar exams are organised by London College of Music Exams (one of the world's most respected music examination boards, established since 1887) and certificated by University Of West London, resulting in a recognised standard by which the skills and abilities of acoustic guitarists can be assessed.

RGT@LCM graded exams, from Grade One onwards, are regulated by Ofqual and have been placed on the Qualifications and Credit Framework. UCAS points towards university entrance are awarded from Grade 6 onwards.


General Enquiries: 020 8231 2751 -
Membership Enquiries: 020 8231 2055 -

RGT@LCM, University of West London, St Mary's Road, London W5 5RF


Honorary Patrons

Sir Paul McCartney, David Gilmour, Hank Marvin, Ronnie Wood, Suzi Quatro, Carlos Bonell, Neil Murray, Gordon Giltrap, John Etheridge, John Illsley, Glenn Tilbrook, Dave Kelly

(v: 5.6.40)