For the performing arts, the graded syllabuses map for both teachers and pupils the building blocks of and progression in their chosen musical or dance subject. Thus the grades offer pathways and resources for learners and teachers to help build musical/dance skills, provide goals and encourage progress.

Some of the demands of the grades are similar to that of Western classical music grades, while others reflect the different nature of a particular musical or dance culture and its emphasis on oral tradition. Thus, instead of reading from written scores, the emphasis is given more to ear-training, memorisation and improvisation.

In many World music and dance traditions, there is also an overlap of disciplines, so as the student progresses towards higher grades, they need to have a wider knowledge than just that of their particular subject. It is for this reasons the exams include other related musical subjects.

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