Latest exam updates

Performance Grade exams

We are now offering Performance Grade exams every month. 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 ABPG15ID when you book. Please also read our terms and conditions here.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Getting the recognition your students deserve

7 months ago


2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and we share your disappointment in not being able to run face-to-face exams as originally planned in your country. We have worked hard to provide a new, digital solution to help your students to progress and get the recognition they deserve. We are pleased to introduce our new Performance Grades; these new, remotely-assessed exams focus on developing skills in programming and performing. They will be available to enter in your country before the end of the year.

Because of the nature of the exam, you are able to make your recordings any time from now on and then submit them for assessment as soon as the exam period opens.

Recording your student’s performance

Performance Grades are assessed from recordings that you and your student create, so we are able to offer flexibility and accessibility. The recordings can be made at home, at school or in a community setting – perfect for all ages with the freedom to choose where to record the performance. The remote nature of these assessments means you can have confidence that they will go ahead as planned even when face-to-face exams cannot. If you are going to be making a recording in advance, it’s important that everyone involved has read the full guidance carefully – this is available on our website.

The Performance Grades have been designed to enable progression; after this period of disruption, they are an opportunity for your students to sit the exams they have worked so hard towards, receive a certificate, and progress on to their next grade. Students will need to prepare an additional own-choice piece or song to make a total of four pieces for their programme – they should choose something they love playing, where they can show off their performing skills.

Progressing through the grades

When face-to-face exams resume, you and your students can choose to switch between Practical and Performance Grades as they continue to progress.

The Performance Grades are equivalent in demand, recognition and value as a qualification, but with a different emphasis. They are based on the same repertoire and syllabuses, assessment criteria and quality assurance measures as our existing exams and will be assessed by the same highly trained examiners.

We believe that a thorough understanding of the elements of music is essential for a fully convincing performance at the higher grades. Therefore, a pass at ABRSM Grade 5 or above is required in either Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or any Practical Music solo Jazz instrument before learners can enter for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam.

In addition, we know your students will have worked hard preparing their scales, as well as developing their sight-reading and aural skills. These technical elements are the building blocks for any performer – a firm grasp of these essential skills will therefore support your student’s success in the new Performance Grades as well!

What the examiner is looking for

These new assessments are the perfect opportunity to develop your student’s musical identity as a performer. As with our Practical Grades, a total of 150 marks will be available overall:

  • The four pieces/songs will be marked individually with a maximum of 30 marks for each.
  • Examiners will use our established criteria to mark each piece/song, assessing the key ingredients of music-making: pitch, time, tone, shape and performance.
  • Finally, there are 30 marks available for the ‘performance as a whole’ – the examiner will be assessing communication, interpretation and delivery across the entire programme.

As experienced performers themselves, our examiners are here to help you, to help your students flourish.

Find out more and read our FAQs

We are passionate that Performance Grades will enable your students to finish the year on a high note, achieving the recognition and certificate they deserve. You can find out more – including how to record your submission in advance – here on our website.

We have also produced a letter about Performance Grades for parents, which you may find useful to share with them as you discuss and plan the next steps for your students. The parent letter can be found here.

We hope you enjoy exploring our new Performance Grades and in the meantime, keep well and stay safe!

Ryan Lewis

South & East Asia Regional Consultant

ABRSM

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