ABRSM exams and COVID
Essential information about exams taking place before 1 April 2021
Last updated 18 January
Our commitment to safe progression
We are committed to providing learners with an opportunity to progress safely with their learning during these uncertain times, and to receive the qualifications they have worked hard for, and that are important for their future.
However, due to the impact of new national restrictions, we have decided to cancel some public exams during Session 1. Exams booked as part of a Private Visit are still possible. For details, please visit our Latest Updates page.
As an alternative to face-to-face practical exams, teachers, parents and candidates may prefer to consider a remotely-assessed Performance Grade or ARSM exam. These are assessed from a submitted video recording.
The following information provides a guide to what you can expect and what to do if the exams you have booked are disrupted for COVID-related reasons.
Providing COVID-safe exams
The safety of candidates, accompanists, examiners and stewards is paramount. That is why we have adopted strict health and safety rules in line with government and public health guidance. These rules apply to everyone involved in the exam. Please read them before you book and share them with candidates, parents and accompanists where necessary. Everyone should also read them before attending an exam, as they could change at any time. You can find them here:
- COVID-19 candidate guidance for Practical exams (PDF)
- COVID-19 venue guidance for Practical exams (PDF)
- COVID-19 venue guidance for Music Theory public exams (PDF)
- COVID-19 arrangements for accompaniment for Practical exams (PDF)
Before attending your exam
- Please check our website and your email for any notice of cancellation.
- If you are a Private Visit Organiser, please read our guidance for Private Visits.
What happens when candidates can’t take their exams?
To support customers affected by Covid restrictions, for exams in January and February 2021 any absent candidate will automatically receive a full refund. You do not need to contact us to request a refund. However, if you are the exam applicant, it will help us if you log into your account and cancel the exam.
- If you have to cancel a Private Visit, we will work with you to rearrange it.
- If you have to cancel exams because candidates have COVID symptoms or are isolating, we will try to offer an alternative for them.
- If this is not possible, applicants can cancel individual exams or the Visit Organiser can cancel the entire Private Visit through their online account and we will automatically provide a full refund.
- We will issue refunds by the end of the month following the month of the visit date, for example, for January visits we will issue refunds by the end of February.
- You can log in and change an exam submission date up to 48 hours before an exam date. The exam applicant can do this or the candidate (parent/carer) if they have an ABRSM account. Please note that alternative appointments are subject to availability.
- Alternatively the person who made the booking (the applicant) can cancel the exam via their account and this will automatically generate a full refund.
- If your candidate is unable to take their exam with less than 48 hours’ notice, you do not need to contact us. The exam will be marked as absent and a refund will follow automatically.
- We will issue refunds within 28 days of the end of the exam session.
You can read our full Withdrawals, Non-attendance and Fee Refunds Policy here.
What do I do if my accompanist is unable to attend my exam?
Live accompaniment, as detailed in the relevant syllabuses, is normally required. Strict health rules apply to everyone involved in the exam and are detailed in the guidance. However, while social-distancing requirements are in place, we are offering flexibility to singers and instrumentalists who must usually have an accompanist (or duet partner) on the day of their exam. We will accept unaccompanied performances in face-to-face exams until at least 1 April 2021. Arrangements beyond that are subject to review. Please see our COVID-19 arrangements for accompaniment in practical exams for full details.