What are the Grade exams?

The Grade exams provide a structured framework to progress and achieve a strong foundation in Irish Dance, by developing a candidate’s physical skills, stamina, expression, musicality and an appreciation and knowledge of the traditional dances and culture. It provides a worthwhile sense of achievement for dancers whether they dance for recreation OR competition, or hope to one day pursue a career in Irish Dancing.

Grade exams are unlike competitions in that each candidate is individually examined and receives a detailed written assessment of their performance and knowledge of the grade being attempted. They are open to both male and female candidates regardless of age and ability. The exams consists of an optional Preliminary Grade followed by Grades 1-12, with each grade becoming increasingly more demanding on the candidate’s skill, knowledge and ability. Each Grade must be passed and certificate awarded before a candidate may attempt the next level. A dancer who successfully completes all Grades will be awarded “The Diploma of the Irish Dancing Commission,” and will be eligible to apply for the TCRG (Irish Dance Teacher) examination.


General Rules

Candidates must be associated with a currently registered CLRG teacher.

Completed Applications for all Grade Examinations (including 1-6) must be submitted at least eight weeks prior to the date of the examinations. 

Applications for Grade Examinations must be submitted to the Udarás Scrúdaithe by a registered TCRG, ADCRG or Regional Authority. 

A dancer may only take up to three grades at any one exam sitting.

A three month period must elapse before the next grade(s) are attempted.

A dancer must take all grades in order, beginning with Grade 1 - the Preliminary grade is optional.

All dancers must produce previous reports before proceeding to higher grades - please bring them with you to each exam.

Dancers should wear poodle socks or tights with plain black shorts, leggings and plain t-shirt or polo shirt. Dance costumes and any clothing with identifying school logos should not be worn.

The number of bars of music to be danced to for all Reels, Single or Hop Jigs Light Jigs, Slip Jigs, Heavy Jigs and Hornpipes is 40.

Candidates must be able to adequately demonstrate practical and theoretical knowledge of all ceili dances as per “Ár Rincí Céilí” as specified in the syllabus in Grades 5 through 12.

The same set dance must not be performed in more than once in Grades 9 through 12.

Dancer are permitted to retake any grade for a better score upon submission of a specific written request to the Udarás Scrúdaithe, with the understanding that the second result would replace the earlier one and that the dancer would be required to pay the usual fee for the grade being taken.

All 12 Grade exams must be completed to be eligible to apply for the TCRG examination.


How to take the Grade exams

Grades exams are offered by local Irish dance schools and organizations, either during feises or independently. Contact Ms Erin for a up-to-date list on upcoming Grade offerings.

Upcoming Exams - Mid Atlantic Region

  • 7/20 grades 1-10 Doherty Petri School 

  • 8/16 grades 1-12 Southern Tier Feis

  • 10/6 grades 1-12 Northern NJ Feis Suffern NY

Registration Fees

  • Preliminary Grade (optional): $14

  • Grades 1, 2, 3: $21 each

  • Grades 4, 5, 6: $30 each

  • Grades 7, 8, 9, 10: $42 each

  • Grades 11, 12: $90 each

Please note this are estimates for the minimum fee allowed for each grade - fees may vary depending on the location offering each exam.


Grades and Required Dances

Preliminary Grade (optional)

Easy Reel (speed 122-124)
OR
Light Jig (speed 116)

Basic, beginner steps must be performed


Grade 1

Easy Reel (speed 122-124)
AND
Light Jig (speed 116)

Basic, beginner steps must be performed


Grade 2

Easy Slip Jig (speed 116)
AND
Easy Single Jig (speed 116)

Basic, beginner steps must be performed


Grade 3

Primary Reel (speed 116-118)
AND
Basic Heavy Jig (speed 96)

Basic, beginner steps must be performed


Grade 4

Primary Slip Jig (speed 120)
AND
St. Patrick’s Day (traditional set, speed 94)


Grade 5

Advanced Reel (speed 113)
Basic Hornpipe (traditional set, speed 144)
Walls of Limerick (ceili, progressive 4-hand, reel)


Grade 6

Advanced Slip Jig (speed 113)
The Blackbird (speed 144)
Siege of Ennis (ceili, progressive 8-hand, jig)


Grade 7

Advanced Heavy Jig (speed 73)
Garden of Daisies (traditional set, speed 138)
Four Hand Reel (ceili, round 4-hand, reel)


Grade 8

Advanced Hornpipe (speed 113)
Job of Journeywork (traditional set, speed 138)
Humours of Bandon (ceili, round 4-hand, jig)


Grade 9

Contemporary set dance (Jig, 6/8 time)
Contemporary set dance (Hornpipe, 2/4 or 4/4 time)
The High Cauled Cap (ceili, round 8-hand, reel)


Grade 10

Contemporary set dance (Jig, 6/8 time)
Contemporary set dance (Hornpipe, 2/4 or 4/4 time)
The 8-Hand Jig (ceili, round 8-hand, jig)

Set dances must be different than those danced in Grade 9


Grade 11*

Advanced Reel (speed 113)
Advanced Slip Jig (speed 113)
Advanced Heavy Jig (speed 73)
King of the Fairies (traditional set, speed 130)
The 8-Hand Reel (ceili, round 8-hand, reel)
The Harvest Time Jig (ceili, round 8-hand, jig)
TWO contemporary set dances selected by the examiner from a list of five submitted by the candidate

Set dances submitted must be different from those danced in Grades 9 & 10

*Candidate must be at least 16 to take Grade 11. A special application form and certificate will apply for this Grade.


Grade 12*

Light Jig (speed 116)
Single Jig (speed 124)
Advanced Hornpipe (speed 113)
Three Sea Captains (traditional set, speed 96)
Jockey to the Fair (tradtional set, speed 90)
The Morris Reel (ceili, round 8-hand, reel)
The 16-Hand Reel (ceili, round 16-hand, reel)
TWO contemporary set dances selected by the examiner from a list of five submitted by the candidate

Set dances submitted must be different from those danced in Grades 9, 10, & 11

*Candidate must be at least 17 to take Grade 12. A special application form and certificate will apply for this Grade.