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.

Join us as a volunteer

If you're a musician or music-lover, have you thought of joining our network of volunteers without whom the running of ABRSM's exams would be impossible?

They're known as Honorary Local Representatives (HLRs) in the UK & Ireland, and number over 200. They help to make sure that our exams run smoothly and provide a network of support for local teachers and their students.

Representatives have been part of the fabric of ABRSM since its inception in 1889 and played an important part in ensuring the integrity of 'local' exams when they were first introduced. For this reason, in the earliest days they weren't allowed to be musicians (this is no longer the case) and a list of the founding representatives reveals a range of volunteers from a lieutenant general in Cheltenham and a rector in Aberdeen to a justice of the peace from Derby.

Giving back to the community

Today, our volunteers have many different reasons for joining the ABRSM family. Many say it's an opportunity to give something back to their community and support music-making in their area.

Jean Stewart, an HLR of over 15 years from Doncaster, enjoys the opportunity to meet other teachers: "As a private piano teacher, it can be lonely at times, so it's a fantastic way of keeping up to date with what's going on and the latest from ABRSM."

Michael Sadka from Cornwall particularly enjoys "feeling part of a community and helping spread the beauty of music".

But it's "not a job to be taken lightly", Helen Hopkins from Wales reminds us. "It can be time consuming and exhausting, but I feel it's my duty to accommodate the exams. I love providing a welcoming atmosphere for the children." Helen and her husband run Wilks Music Store, the oldest music shop in Swansea, and have been holding exams in a purpose-built room adjoined to the shop for over 30 years, with a lengthy visitors' book to prove it.

Another optional role of a representative is to organise High Scorers' Concerts. These provide a fantastic opportunity for local children to come and play their pieces in front of a friendly and supportive audience and celebrate their success. They always have a "real buzz about them" and are "a joy to arrange" notes Jean.

What we look for

So what qualities and skills do you need as a representative?

You should enjoy working with young people, have plenty of patience, good organisational skills and tremendous diplomacy. As a representative, you'll deal with the ordinary to the bizarre, from flat tyres and late candidates to noisy neighbours, forgotten music and occasional examiners locked in toilets!

You also need unfailing patience and the ability to keep calm under pressure. We want to ensure the conditions are right for each candidate and that their experience of the exam is positive.

Benefits you'll enjoy

As an HLR, you're assured of full support from staff at our London office and are kept up to date through our regular newsletters. You also receive discounts on our publications and free or discounted places on our courses.

A more unusual benefit for Helen (and one we can't guarantee!) was the invitation by one of the examiners at her centre to sing Elgar's Sea Pictures with his orchestra in London.

"It was such a wonderful and unexpected opportunity," Helen reminisces, adding that it "really encouraged me to pursue my singing!"


Becoming an HLR

Many HLRs are in post for several years, but when a position becomes vacant it's usually advertised to applicants in the relevant part of the country. To find out more, please contact us using this form.

Download an HLR person specification.

If applying, we ask you to provide some brief background information about yourself and the names of two people who'd be willing to provide a reference (both referees should know you for at least five years and normally one should be involved in music in your area).

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