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.

Every exam tells a story

4 years ago
Zoë Booth

Zoë Booth

Zoë Booth is a busy flute player, teacher and writer. Much of her work is with adult learners, as part of ‘Flutes at the Barns’ in the UK and overseas. Zoë has been an ABRSM examiner for six years.

I’m sure that all ABRSM examiners would agree that examining musical performance is an extremely rewarding job – you never know who is going to come through the door and every exam really does tell its own story. Like all examiners I’m a musician myself, so it is very welcome to hear good performances, but - for me - that’s only one aspect to enjoy. It’s just as fulfilling to be a part of helping someone have a good exam experience – perhaps encouraging a child who is hiding behind the steward at the start of their first exam or a nervous adult fulfilling a lifetime ambition to learn an instrument. It’s a great privilege to be the person who gets to hear the culmination of so much preparation from each candidate – I remember my own experience of taking exams, and what a big day it was for me and all the adults supporting my music making. Music exams are open to anyone and, while most are still taken by children of all ages, I have gradually noticed more adults on my timetables. There is such a range of options on offer – which exam or grade to work towards, a wide choice of musical styles and pieces, the decision of when to take the exam and, finally, which order to take the various elements of the exam on the day. Music doesn’t discriminate, allowing access for candidates with special needs too. Before the exam day I’m told of any special arrangements that I can offer, to give everyone the opportunity to perform at their best. This is helpful for conditions like dyslexia, right through to hearing-impaired musicians. As you can imagine, in a typical day nothing is typical - every single exam is different, depending on the personality and musicianship of the candidate. To be an ABRSM examiner you need to be a detailed listener with good concentration – it’s typical to hear 25 to 30 exams in one day, all grades, any instrument! You’ve got to be able to quickly make your assessment and provide constructive feedback, and be a good time-keeper so that your candidates don’t get too nervous waiting. Most of all though, when I put my own pupils in for their ABRSM exams, I want them to really enjoy the experience, so someone who enjoys meeting people and is encouraging and patient is high on my wish-list. And as an examiner, these are qualities I try to bring to every exam too!

Listen to the documentary

You can listen to the BBC Radio 4 documentary, Making the Grade, featuring examiner Zoë Booth and her exam candidates, on BBC iPlayer.



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