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]

Award-winning Trinidadian musician tells young commonwealth composers: ‘be yourself’

6 months ago


An award-winning young Trinidadian composer has urged musicians to create music ‘that is an extension of themselves’ as they bid to repeat her success in the Commonwealth International Composition Award.

Aliyah Ramatally, from Trinidad and Tobago, won global plaudits after winning the audience vote in the inaugural Commonwealth International Composition Award (CICA), held in London last year and sponsored by ABRSM.

The Durham University music student’s final piece, Mundo Nuevo (New World), told the story of her native islands and fused her country’s national instrument- the steelpan- with traditional classical instruments like the Violin, Cello and Flute.

Aliyah said: “My life has changed significantly in many ways. When I was selected as a finalist for the Commonwealth International Composition Award, I took the opportunity to properly showcase the amazing diversity of the steelpan. I was elated to know that my first work to be debuted in London would exhibit my culture.”

Entries for this year’s contest must be submitted by 1st September and Aliyah has a clear message for young composers hoping to follow her footsteps and the success of fellow inaugural CICA winners, Xiaole Zhan from New Zealand, who won the 2019 Commonwealth International Composition Award, and young Singaporean, Isaiah Hui Zhou Rong, who received The Dorico Award for Innovation.

She said: “I have realised that being a composer is a journey of self-discovery of your own purpose in life. By taking the time to be open-minded to the world and new experiences, you discover a whole new collection of ideas which act as inspiration for your music. Be passionate and love what you do. Create music that is an extension of you and your audience will be in awe of you and your music.”

ABRSM Chief Executive Michael Elliott said: “Aliyah, Xiaole and Isaiah are amazing young talents and I hope their examples will inspire even more young composers from around the world to submit compositions before the deadline on 1st September.

“We’re proud of their achievements. We’re also proud of our part in encouraging their careers and the small but important role that sponsorship of the award plays in our wider and growing commitment to diversifying the pool of published music that we can draw on for inclusion in our syllabuses in the future.”

The awards were set up to promote composition around the world and to give young composers the skills they need to further their careers. They target different commonwealth regions each time and this year focus on The Soloman Islands, Belize, Kenya, and Sri Lanka, however composers outside these regions are still eligible to apply.

Young composers interested in taking part in this year’s CICA can get more details at


Note to editors

  1. Links to last year’s winning compositions are here:
  2. 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.
  3. The Commonwealth International Composition Award (CICA) was founded by Alison Cox, Chair of Trustees of The Commonwealth Resounds, and Head of Composition and Outreach at The Purcell School for Young Musician.

Further information from Jon Flinn on 07811 397122

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