Grade Exams

The CLRG offers the Grade Exams program to all dancers. It is a non-competitive series of competency/proficiency tests. Please consult with the Foley Academy Director before registering your dancer for any Grade Exams.


The purpose of the Grade Examinations Scheme is to provide a structured framework within which dancers can progress towards an achievable goal. The syllabus has been designed to provide 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 individuals whether they dance solely for health, recreation or competitive reasons or hope to pursue a career in Irish Dancing.

Grade examinations 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 scheme consists of an optional Preliminary Grade followed by a further 12 grades 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”.

Grade Exams – RULES AND REGULATIONS (per the January 1, 2018 syllabus)

  1. Dancers may only dance Basic Steps in the Preliminary grade and Grades 1, 2 & 3.
  2. 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.
  3. Dancers must perform St. Patrick’s Day, Blackbird, Garden of Daisies, Job of Journeywork, King of the Fairies, Three Sea Captains, and Jockey to the Fair in a traditional style and manner.
  4. Dancers must not perform the same set dance in more than one of the Grades from 9 to 12 inclusive.
  5. A dancer must take all grades in order, beginning with Grade 1 – the Preliminary grade is optional. However, a candidate may only attempt a maximum of 3 consecutive Grades at any one sitting.
  6. 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 for Grades 5 -12 inclusive.
  7. Candidates should not wear dance costumes.
  8. All candidates must produce previous reports before proceeding to higher grades. Please bring to the exam.
  9. Grade 11 may only be attempted by candidates at least 16 years of age.
  10. Grade 12 may only be attempted by candidates at least 17 years of age.
  11. A special application form and certificate/diploma will apply for Grades 11 and 12.
  12. Candidates must complete all 12 Grade Examinations to be eligible to apply for the TCRG Examination effective from January 1st 2018.
  13. Scrúdú Béil (Oral Irish Exam) for grades 1-4 in Ireland.

Grade Levels with Required Dances & Speeds

PrelimEasy Reel or Light JigEasy Reel: 122-124

Light Jig: 116

1Easy Reel and Light JigEasy Reel: 122-124
Light Jig: 116
2Easy Slip Jig and Easy Single JigBasic Slip Jig: 124
Basic Single Jig: 124
3Primary Reel and Basic Heavy JigPrimary Reel: 116-118
Basic Heavy Jig: 96
4Primary Slip Jig and St. Patrick’s Day (Traditional)Primary Slip Jig: 120
St. Patrick’s Day: 94
5Advanced Reel (Intermediate/Primary/Open)
Basic (Traditional) Hornpipe
Walls of Limerick (Ceili)
Advanced Reel: 113
Basic Hornpipe: 144
Walls of Limerick
6Advanced Slip Jig (Intermediate/Primary/Open)
Blackbird (Traditional)
Siege of Ennis (Ceili)
Advanced Slip Jig: 113
Blackbird: 144
Siege of Ennis
7Advanced Heavy Jig
Garden of Daisies (Traditional)
Four Hand Reel
Advanced Heavy Jig: 73
Garden of Daisies: 138
Four Hand Reel
8Advanced Hornpipe
Job of Journeywork (Traditional)
Humours of Bandon
Advanced Hornpipe: 113
Job of Journeywork: 138
Humours of Bandon
9Two modern set dances, one in 6/8 time and the other in 2/4 or 4/4 time
High Cauled Cap
Dancers’ choice for sets
10Two modern set dances, one in 6/8 time and the other in 2/4 or 4/4 time (different from those in Grade 9)
Eight Hand Jig
Dancers’ choice for sets
11Advanced Reel
Advanced Slip Jig
Advanced Heavy Jig
King of the Fairies
Two modern set dances selected by the examiner from a list of 5 submitted by the candidate (different from those in Grades 9 & 10)
Eight Hand Reel
Harvest Time Jig
Advanced Reel: 113
Advanced Slip Jig: 113
Advanced Heavy Jig: 73
King of the Fairies: 130
Dancers’ choice for sets
12Light Double Jig
Single Jig
Advanced Hornpipe
Three Sea Captains
Jockey to the Fair
Two modern set dances selected by the examiner form a list of 5 submitted by the candidate (different from those in Grades 9, 10, and 11)
Morris Reel
Sixteen Hand Reel
Light Double Jig: 116
Single Jig: 124
Advanced Hornpipe: 113
Three Sea Captains: 96
Jockey to the Fair: 90
Dancers’ choice for sets