Latest exam updates

Practical Update 

We appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected learners and we are working hard on solutions to ensure learners can gain their qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

However, on the basis of official and local advice due to COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all Practical exams in Macau until further notice. This decision affects all 2020 bookings for Graded Music Exams, ARSM, Diploma, Choral Singing and Ensemble exams, but does not currently affect any bookings for Music Theory exams. Following this decision, we will process 100% refunds for all existing Practical exam bookings and our Representatives will provide further guidance in due course.

We are sorry for the impact on teachers and candidates and thank you for your loyalty and support while these restrictions remain in place. We are continuing to review when live Practical exams can resume in Macau and will offer them again at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our new remotely-assessed Performance Grades provide an alternative progression route for students during this period of disruption. The Performance Grades are equivalent to our Practical Grades in demand, recognition and value. They are based on the same repertoire and syllabuses, assessment criteria and quality assurance measures as our existing exams and will be assessed by the same highly trained examiners. Booking will open in Macau before the end of the year and you can record your video submission any time from now on. Find out more here.

Instruments and singing: Grades 1-8


John Holmes, ABRSM Chief ExaminerThis guide is for anyone involved with ABRSM’s graded music exams – especially teachers, candidates and parents. It introduces the various elements of our exams for instruments and singing, guides you through the exam experience and explains what makes ABRSM exams special.

As ABRSM’s Chief Examiner, I lead the team of examiners who deliver our exams around the world. Our message to candidates is ‘I’ll do my best to help you do your best’, and I can say with confidence that this message lies at the heart of our work.

Every examiner understands how it feels to be nervous before a musical performance. We have all experienced this ourselves and we remember being an exam candidate too. We know that a friendly face and a sympathetic approach make all the difference. From our manner in the exam room, our method as we work through the exam to our comments on the mark form, our aim is to be helpful and supportive. The ABRSM examiner is always on the candidate’s side.

ABRSM exams motivate achievement and support progression. They lay good foundations for music making while encouraging students to reach their full potential. We advise teachers and candidates to use our exams as a means to this end, rather than as an end in themselves. They can form only part of a musical curriculum, for which they provide goals and recognition along the way.

Finally, we should remember the reason so many of us learn to play an instrument or to sing. It’s about a love of music and the enjoyment and fulfilment that brings, all of which ABRSM supports wholeheartedly.

John Holmes
Chief Examiner

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