SCT Exam Info

You can register online for the SCT Exams

About the SCT Exams

There’s more to Irish traditional music than just playing tunes. Musical works have histories and stories, just as musicians today stand on the shoulders of giants from the past. The SCT (Scrúdu Ceol Tíre) programme is a graded series of exams designed to take you as a musician from basic proficiency in tune-playing through to a mastery of the tradition. Along the way you’ll learn about music theory, improve your ear and research the history of musical pieces, styles and players. Oh, and play tunes, of course!

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History of the SCT Exams

Since the founding of Comhaltas in 1951, traditional musicians have achieved recognition through our Fleadh Cheoil competitions at county, provincial, and All-Ireland levels. While this remains a prestigious way to demonstrate playing ability, it seemed appropriate to create a broader framework of measurement for traditional music to include not only performance, but also sources of tunes, regional styles and so forth. The programme set out to offer formal recognition to a broader group of traditional musicians while at the same time strengthening the tradition itself through more intensive study.

Comhaltas and the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) established the Traditional Irish Music Examination as a joint project to meet these goals. The programme was launched by President Mary McAleese at Dublin Castle on 14 December, 1998.

In February 2003 Comhaltas assumed full responsibility for administering and developing all aspects of the examination.

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Taking the Exams

The exam is offered bi-annually in the months of January/February and April/May in locations around Ireland. Applicants are assigned a time slot with an experienced examiner who listens to performances and also speaks informally with the student about the theory and history of traditional music. Most SCT applicants are entered by their music teachers, who have the best sense of which level to enter. Passing the exam entitles the student to a certificate of proficiency and the right to progress to the next level of evaluation.

The SCT programme includes 12 levels of competence:

At the early Elementary levels, candidates play just two tunes and complete some basic music theory exercises. At the Senior levels, these advanced musicians are expected to play selections from a broad range of musical types, including appropriate ornamentation and other embellishments. Senior candidates also submit written submissions on a topic from the SCT syllabus.

Completion of the Senior Cycle serves as a further step towards the TTCT Teaching Diploma Course.

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Applications & Syllabus

Printed copies of the syllabus are available on request from Comhaltas - contact us for details. The SCT syllabus is also available for download.

If you are interested in taking the examination, you should first discuss this with your music teacher or local Comhaltas branch secretary ( Find a branch )

When you and your teacher have agreed on a level to enter, you can either register online for the SCT Exams or download the SCT application form. If you have any questions, you may contact us via email for more information at or via fax at +353 (0)1 8363047. Due to limited staff, we’re sorry that we cannot accept SCT queries via telephone.

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SCT Grade Structure Changes & Exam Fees

2016 Onwards Fee (2015)
Elementary 1 €25 (Elementary Cycle 1)
Elementary 2 €25 (Elementary Cycle 2)
Elementary 3 €25 (Elementary Cycle 3)
Grade 1 €30 (Junior Cycle 1)
Grade 2 €30 (Junior Cycle 2)
Grade 3 €35 (Junior Cycle 3)
Grade 4 €40 (Junior Cycle 4)
Grade 5 €45 (Junior Cycle 5)
Grade 6 €50 (Senior Cycle 1)
Grade 7 €60 (Senior Cycle 2)
Grade 8 €70 (Senior Cycle 3/Senior Cycle 4) *
Advanced Performance Certificate €90 *

* 2016: Candidates who received minimum Distinction grade (in Performance section) in Senior 3 or minimum Honours Grade (in Performance section) in Senior 4 exams during or before 2015 can choose to enter at either Grade 8 or Advanced Performance Certificate level in 2016. Candidates who have achieved a grade other than Distinction in Performance section of Senior 3 (in 2015 or earlier) are eligible to take the Grade 8 examination only in 2016.

* 2017: Candidates for Advanced Performance Certificate must have achieved minimum overall Honours grade in Grade 8 examination.

* 2018: Candidates for Advanced Performance Certificate must have achieved minimum overall Honours grade in Grade 8 examination, and have passed Grade 7 examination. 

* 2019 onwards: Candidates for Advanced Performance Certificate must have achieved minimum overall Honours grade in Grade 8 examination and have passed Grade 7 and Grade 6 examinations. 

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