Latest exam updates

Performance Grades: Less than 24 hours remaining to book a June Performance Grade.

Performance Grade exams

We are now offering Performance Grade exams every month. Please check here for dates and fees. We are extending the introductory 15% discount for these exams so that it applies to all remotely-assessed Performance Grade and ARSM exams in 2021. Just enter code ABPG15MO when you book. Please also read our terms and conditions here.

Performance Grades discount: system error

We currently have an error in our systems relating to discount codes. When you add the code your order summary will show that 15% has been added to the total, not taken away. However, the 15% discount will be applied to your booking and the correct total will appear at the top of the next screen before you pay. We're working to fix this and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

15,000 musicians sign up for innovative new music exam

6 months ago

Remote performance exam success shows music learning revolution here to stay, UK’s leading music exam board says.

Demand for an innovative new music exam which focuses on students’ performance, lets them choose what they play and is 100% assessed online via video recordings has outstripped all expectations after almost 15,000 students -  triple the expected number - signed up.

ABRSM, which developed the new Performance Grade, says the scale of interest comes despite strong demand for traditional face-to-face exams and points to a permanent post COVID-19 shift in UK music learning. 

The new exam breaks with 131 years of ABRSM tradition by assessing students entirely on their performance of their chosen music and how they bring it to life, including the essential skills of communication, interpretation and storytelling. The exam room comes to the candidate, who chooses where and when to make their recording, and each video is then assessed by an ABRSM examiner.

ABRSM chief executive Michael Elliott said: “We’ve been working on a wide range of digital resources and opportunities for a long time but accelerated our efforts when COVID-19 emerged.

“The Performance Grade is part of this and, whilst maintaining our commitment to excellence, is a major departure from anything we’ve done before.  The fantastic response reflects the extent to which teachers and learners have been open to try something different, but equally valuable. It also seems to reflect a deeper and more sustained appetite, both for exams which have a different focus, and for digital learning and assessment methods.”

ABRSM launched digital sheet music downloads and a popular online platform, Play On, to support learners during and beyond lockdown and conducted a survey which showed that 87% of music teaching had moved online within weeks of lockdown taking effect.

Mr Elliott added: “The Performance Grade is all about sharing the thrill of performance, putting students in control and giving them the chance to share their love of performing by communicating their musical interests, tastes, strengths and personality. 

“It’s a very exciting addition to what we already offer because it complements our Practical Grades and gives students an additional progression route. 

“Curating a programme of music is a fundamental part of this, which is why we’ve placed such an emphasis on choice. Candidates are able to select three pieces or songs from lists which we provide and given free rein to choose the fourth piece. They also choose how to arrange their four pieces or songs into a programme and take responsibility for giving a convincing overall performance.”

The Performance Grade is a regulated qualification and is available at Grades 1 to 8. It carries the same value as traditional Practical Grades and students are able to switch between Practical and Performance Grades as they progress. Candidates will be awarded the same UCAS points for Performance Grades at Grades 6 to 8 as they would have received for Practical Grades for the same levels.


Note to editors

Established in 1889, ABRSM is one of the UK’s leading music education organisations, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams, offering assessments to more than 600,000 candidates in over 90 countries every year. ABRSM’s mission is to inspire achievement in music. It does this globally by supporting music teaching and learning worldwide in partnership with four Royal Schools of Music: the Royal Academy of Music; Royal College of Music; Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Media enquiries to Jon Flinn on 07811 397122

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