Latest exam updates

Exam refunds

To support customers affected by ongoing COVID restrictions, for Practical and Performance Grade exams from 1st January to 31st 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. Find out more:

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 candidate 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.

We will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Exact dates will be announced soon. Please check here for more information. 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.

What’s changing and when?

New Piano Syllabus 2021 & 2022 – available now!

  • A new Initial Grade for Piano, providing a pre-Grade 1 assessment that follows the same structure, content and marking criteria as our other graded music exams 
  • Completely revised repertoire lists and scales requirements (see below)
  • A revised list structure, with lists defined by musical characteristics rather than period of composition
  • More choice and variety of repertoire (30 pieces per grade)
  • A duet option from Initial Grade to Grade 3
  • A one-year overlap period, with the 2019 & 2020 syllabus valid until 31 December 2021. All pieces and scales must be from the same syllabus.

Sight-reading and aural test requirements remain the same as for the 2019 & 2020 syllabus.

Changes to Scales & arpeggios

Following extensive development work and valuable consultation with teachers, we have made changes to the requirements at every grade. The changes provide a more logical and gradual progression, from the new Initial Grade through to Grade 8. The revised requirements are fewer in number overall, making them more manageable for preparation and assessment, while still maintaining the rigour expected from ABRSM exams through focusing on tasks that are appropriate to each grade in their level of demand. Our Guide to the new requirements provides more detailed information about the rationale behind the changes and the underlying design of the requirements across the grades.

Find out more about our Piano Scales and arpeggios from 2021:

Syllabus validity

The new Piano syllabus comes into effect on 1 January 2021. This means that from this date:

  • Candidates can begin to present the pieces and scales requirements from the new syllabus;
  • Candidates can continue to present the pieces and scales requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus during the overlap period (see below);

Syllabus overlap

A one-year syllabus overlap period now applies to all countries – including the UK and Ireland. This means that even though the new syllabus comes into effect on 1 January 2021 a candidate can choose to present pieces and scales requirements from the 2019 & 2020 syllabus in their exams up until 31 December 2021.

All three pieces and the scales requirements must be prepared from the same syllabus.

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