Latest exam updates

Performance Grades: Booking for June Performance Grades is open now until 13 May.

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.

Performance Grades discount: system error

We currently have an error in our systems relating to discount codes. When you add the code your order summary will show that 15% has been added to the total, not taken away. However, the 15% discount will be applied to your booking and the correct total will appear at the top of the next screen before you pay. We're working to fix this and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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.

How I chose my ARSM repertoire by James McQueen

Whilst preparing for the ARSM exam, I found myself spoiled for choice when it came to selecting the pieces of music that I actually wanted to play, leading to some very tough decisions in order to create a programme just thirty minutes long.

Upon completing Grade 8 Trumpet, I began learning and playing several pieces with little direction or specific goal in mind, other than the fact that I knew I wanted to, at some point, take the ARSM. After becoming familiar with various trumpet concertos, sonatas and etudes, I had built up a reasonable repertoire of music that I could select for my programme, however I was hesitant to commit to a final choice. I believe this was largely due to being overwhelmed by what felt like a significant balancing act of creating a programme of varied pieces that I enjoyed playing, while also keeping to the required length.

I spent quite some time going back and forth between different pieces, eventually settling on a concerto and etude that I knew I wanted to perform in the exam and much of my focus was shifted towards preparing these pieces. However, this still left me with about seven minutes of performance time which I left to deal with later as I was unsure about what I would fill it with.

Eventually I realised that my main concern was about finding something that fitted all the criteria I had, like style and particularly duration. The solution therefore was to simply note down the running time of all the pieces I had worked on, as well as those featured on ABRSM’s ARSM repertoire list, and choose one which both resonated with me enough that I actually wanted to play it, and also completed the programme. Had I done this earlier, I could have spent more time preparing, playing and enjoying the music for my exam, rather than worrying about what it was that I would actually play.

Ultimately, I found that my final choice of repertoire came down to what felt right. During my initial search for music there were some pieces that, despite appearing to tick all the boxes at first, I just didn't feel particularly inspired by. It was only once I had looked elsewhere and found something that really struck a chord with me that I felt truly motivated to explore the music and bring the best out of it that I could. The rest fell into place from there.

Once I was settled on the music, I chose the order of the programme by deciding to arrange the pieces chronologically. This made the decision nice and straightforward, while also helping me to feel a sense of coherence and direction throughout the planning of the performance.

After going through the whole process, I found that all I needed was some careful planning in order to have a nice and smooth experience, with the earlier it being sorted the better!

James W. McQueen, Previous ARSM Candidate

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