Latest exam updates

Exam refunds

To support customers affected by ongoing COVID restrictions, for Practical and Performance Grade exams from 1 January to 31 May 2021 any absent candidate will automatically receive a refund. This includes Performance Grades where the candidate has been unable to record and upload their video. You do not need to contact us to request a refund. However, it will help us if you can log in to your account and cancel the exam.

For Online Music Theory exams and any paper based exams taking place outside of the UK/Ireland we anticipate COVID restrictions will not prevent candidates from sitting their exam so absentee candidates will not automatically receive a refund and our normal Withdrawal, Non-attendance and Fee Refunds Policy still applies.

Music Theory exams – March 2021

  • Online Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 5) – we are cancelling the online exams planned for 16 March. Exams in May and June will go ahead as planned.
  • Paper Music Theory exams (Grades 6 to 8) – the next exams will take place in June. Please note, dates and booking periods for Grades 1-5 and Grades 6-8 may be different from now on. For full details, see our dates and fees page.
  • Grade 5 Music Theory requirement - from 1 January to 30 April 2021 only, candidates can take Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical exams without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. From 1 May 2021, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return with flexibility about timing. If you receive an email asking for your proof of prerequisite, please ignore this. We will still release any results in line with the arrangements outlined here.

For more information click here.

Performance Grade exams

We will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. 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 using our online service. Please also read our discount information and terms and conditions here.

For all press and media enquiries please contact Jon Flinn on 07811 397122

or email [email protected]

Full statement provided to the Telegraph

3 years ago


At ABRSM it’s our mission to inspire musical achievement. We do everything we can to support students’ progression and success in music, whatever their needs and musical destinations. We believe that learning music theory gives students the tools they need to get the most from their musical activities. Our commitment to the teaching and learning of core musical skills, knowledge, and understanding is unwavering. And we back this up by continuously developing new print and digital resources supporting the varied needs of students and teachers. We also have a longstanding requirement that candidates must pass Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Jazz or Practical Musicianship before they can enter for a practical exam at Grade 6, 7 or 8. As part of our responsibility to teachers and students, we review and refresh all our assessments on an on-going basis. To do this we consult with customers and education experts, including teaching staff from our Royal Schools of Music partners. The revised exam papers are based on our existing Music Theory syllabus and will continue to assess the same broad areas of music theory. Although we’ve made some small changes to the papers, the underlying knowledge you need remains the same. Our panel of expert Theory Examiners will continue to mark all our exam papers to the same rigorous standards as now. When making these changes, we took into account best practice in assessment and question design. As a result we’ve introduced Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) for one element of the exam. MCQs are an accessible, reliable and proven way of assessing certain aspects of knowledge. They are an existing and accepted element of school exams and the vast majority of candidates will be familiar with them. 11 August 2017 Further information:

  • Improving our Music Theory exams blog post
  • Sample papers for Grades 1 to 5 (2 sets) to view, download and print
  • Multiple choice quiz for musical terms and signs
  • To find out more about the changes, please visit www.abrsm.org/theory2018
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