UK & Ireland exam regulations
These regulations apply to all ABRSM exams except Music Medals and the DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM diplomas, for which separate syllabuses containing distinct regulations are available.
Who we are
We are the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), a company registered in England and Wales (company registration number 1926395) and a registered charity (charity registration number 292182). Our registered office is at 4 London Wall Place, London, EC2Y 5AU.
ABRSM’s mission is to inspire musical achievement. We do this in partnership with four Royal Schools of Music: the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
We are passionate about music, its value as an art form and the importance of music education. We believe that being involved with music gives people unique, positive experiences with life-long benefits.
Through our world-leading assessments, books and resources we provide people worldwide with the tools they need to teach, learn, make and enjoy music. Our scholarships, donations, sponsorship and partnerships create opportunities for people of all ages to discover music and fulfil their potential. Everything we do is designed to support learners and teachers on their musical journey.
Find out more at www.abrsm.org.
How we are regulated
ABRSM Practical Grades, Performance Grades, Music Theory and higher-level qualifications (diplomas) are regulated in the UK by:
- Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)
- Qualifications Wales
- Council for the Curriculum, Examination and Assessment (CCEA Regulation).
They are part of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland. For further information, see www.abrsm.org/regulation.
About these Exam Regulations
What these Exam Regulations cover
These regulations contain the terms and conditions upon which we provide and conduct music exam services.
Which exams these Exam Regulations apply to
These regulations apply to all ABRSM exams except Music Medals and the DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM diplomas, for which separate regulations are available at www.abrsm.org. These Exam Regulations apply to exam bookings made from 27 July 2020.
Changes to these Exam Regulations
These Exam Regulations have been revised to reflect changes relating to our new online booking service and the introduction of Performance Grades (available to learners from 1 July 2020) for exams from 2020.
We reserve the right to change or add to these regulations from time to time for legal, safety or other substantive reasons to assist the proper delivery of exam services. These regulations replace all previous guidance about the conduct of our exams. The latest version will be available at www.abrsm.org/regulations.
How to contact us
If you think there is a mistake in these regulations, or if anything is unclear, please contact us:
- using the ‘Contact us’ form at www.abrsm.org/contact-us
- writing to Global Operations, ABRSM, 4 London Wall Place, London, EC2Y 5AU.
Important – legally binding contract
When the applicant makes an exam booking, the applicant and ABRSM enter into a legally binding contract upon the terms and conditions set out in these regulations.
For 2020 Online Music Theory exams, please read the Addendum to UK and Ireland Exam Regulations: Exceptional regulations for Online Music Theory exams (2020) carefully before entering candidates for the assessment.
a. Exam subjects are listed at abrsm.org/exams.
b. ABRSM Practical Grades are available from Initial Grade (selected instruments only) to Grade 8. Performance Grades, Music Theory and Practical Musicianship are available from Grade 1 to Grade 8. Each grade is progressive in its level of demand. The Prep Test is designed to encourage the building of good musical and technical foundations. ARSM (Associate of the Royal Schools of Music) is a post-Grade 8 performance-only exam; it can be taken as a live exam at a Public or Private venue, or as a remote assessment via video recording. In addition, we offer Ensemble exams at three levels (Primary, Intermediate and Advanced), and Performance Assessment.
a. The table below shows the regulated qualification titles for Practical Grades, Performance Grades, Music Theory and ARSM*. Further information can be found at https://register.ofqual.gov.uk. Information about international regulation can be found at www.abrsm.org/regulation.
ABRSM Entry Level Award in Practical Music (Initial Grade)(Entry 3)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 1)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 2)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 3)
ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 4)
ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 5)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 6)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 7)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 8)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 1)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 2)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 3)
ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 4)
ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 5)
ABSRM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 6)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 7)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 8)
ABRSM Level 4 Diploma in Music Performance (ARSM)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 1)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 2)
ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 3)
ABRSM Level 2 Award in Music Theory (Grade 4)
ABRSM Level 2 Award in Music Theory (Grade 5)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Theory (Grade 6)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Theory (Grade 7)
ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Theory (Grade 8)
* Prep Test, Practical Musicianship, Performance Assessment, Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Choral Singing exams are not regulated qualifications.
b. For ease of reading, ‘Practical Grade(s)’, ‘Performance Grade(s)’, ‘Music Theory’ and ‘ARSM’ are used in place of the full qualification titles throughout the remainder of these Exam Regulations. Similarly, the generic term ‘practical exam(s)’ refers to all qualifications except Music Theory.
a. Candidates may be entered for an exam at any age. The candidate’s date of birth must be stated on the online service at the time of making the booking.
b. Candidates for practical exams at Grades Initial–5 and Music Theory exams at Grades 1–8 do not need to have taken any other graded exams.
c. Candidates for practical exams 6–8 must already have passed one of the qualifications listed at www.abrsm.org/prerequisite before the closing date for the exam. ARSM candidates must already have passed ABRSM Grade 8, or accepted alternative, in the instrument being presented. For further information, please visit www.abrsm.org/arsmdiploma.
d. We reserve the right to cancel an exam for a candidate who does not present evidence of the necessary prerequisites. A copy of the certificate must be supplied at the time of booking, except for:
- ABRSM qualifications gained after 1 January 1994 and taken in the UK or Ireland (supporting documents will only be needed if we are unable to verify the qualification from our records).
ARSM bookings (although we may ask for a copy of the certificate later; if a copy of the certificate is not provided, we will cancel the exam booking without any refund of the fees paid or payable).
a. We update our syllabuses from time to time. Advance notice of any changes is given at abrsm.org/exams.
b. In the first year of any revised practical exam syllabus, we offer an overlap period where candidates may choose repertoire or follow specific requirements (where applicable) from the preceding syllabus. Information on the length of the overlap period and the requirements that it applies to is given at www.abrsm.org/overlap.
a. The applicant’s responsibilities are:
- to comply with these Exam Regulations, making sure that those connected with the exam (including the candidate) are aware of relevant matters;
- to make sure, where a candidate is under the age of 18, that one of the candidate’s parents (or someone else with parental responsibility) has consented to their child being entered for an exam
- to submit the exam booking, making sure that the information in the booking is accurate, including name spellings, exam subjects and levels, and any specific needs;
- to pay for the exam
- to make sure the candidate is aware of the exam date, time and venue;
- to receive the exam result/certificate and to pass them on to the candidate
b. Each applicant is given a personal Contact ID when they first register on our online service. The Contact ID should be quoted in all communications with us.
c. Responsibility for a booking cannot be passed to another party without the applicant’s written consent.
d. While the applicant is our main point of contact in all matters, we may share information about an exam with another party, including the candidate and his or her parents (or those with parental responsibility), in response to a valid question. At the time of booking, the applicant will have the option to add an email address for each candidate. This will allow them to set up an account. With an account, candidates (and their parents/carers) can go online to view exam information, change a practical exam appointment at a Public Venue or Remote Venue, and access their results and practical exam mark forms. The candidate will receive emails about their appointments and results after the applicant. In addition, candidates (parents/carers) can set up an account at any time as long as they know their Contact ID.
e. We cannot become involved in any dispute or communication breakdown between an applicant and the candidate or his or her parents (or those with parental responsibility).
f. We do not verify the degrees or qualifications of applicants which may appear on ABRSM certificates. Applicants are expected to provide accurate information when making bookings.
g. For candidates under the age of 18 taking Performance Grades or ARSM exams by remote assessment, it is the responsibility of the Applicant to inform the parent/guardian that the exam will be video-recorded for assessment, compliance and safeguarding purposes. Consent for the candidate to be recorded must be given by the parent/guardian before making an exam booking.
a. Bookings must be made by the applicant during the published booking period (www.abrsm.org/datesandfees) using the online booking service. Where online booking is not available (DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM, and Choral Singing and Ensembles only), entries must be made by post using the paper entry form. We cannot accept bookings by letter, email, fax or telephone. For more information on how to make a booking, visit www.abrsm.org/exambooking.
b. We may refuse, invalidate or cancel any booking. In these cases, ABRSM will handle entry fees in line with the Withdrawals, Non-Attendance and Fee Refund Policy (see www.abrsm.org/policies).
c. Although we would discourage candidates from taking two Practical exams in any one subject (whether at the same or different levels) in an exam session, this is not forbidden. Please note that this may mean that the candidate is assessed twice by the same examiner. The transfer of marks, at any grade, between Performance Grades and Practical Grades is not permitted.
d. Candidates can be entered for only one Music Theory exam in any given exam session.
e. At the time of booking, applicants must make sure that the information given is accurate, including name spellings, exam subjects and levels, and any access arrangements or reasonable adjustments. After the booking has been submitted, amendments cannot be made.
a. Exam fees must be paid in full at the time of booking. For more information on payment methods, see www.abrsm.org/exambooking.
b. Where bookings are made on behalf of more than one candidate, a single payment must be made by the applicant; we cannot process a separate payment for each candidate.
c. If there is a query about a payment, or an unpaid amount, we will contact the applicant as soon as possible after the booking has been made. If the query has not been resolved, we may prevent the applicant from making any further bookings until the outstanding fees have been paid.
d. In cases where payment is made with a dishonoured cheque and we have to pursue payment, we will charge a fee to cover administrative costs and bank charges (see www.abrsm.org/fees).
a. Cancellations and withdrawals can be made by applicants in accordance with the Withdrawals, Non-attendance and Fee Refund Policy, available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
a. We aim to make our exams accessible to all candidates by providing access arrangements and reasonable adjustments. While changes may be made to the administration of the exam, we will not make any changes to the assessment standards; each candidate’s performance is marked in line with the usual criteria. We publish guidelines for candidates with specific needs at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds. Where a candidate has specific needs that are not covered by our guidelines, we consider each case individually. Further information is available from the Access Co-ordinator ([email protected]) or from www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.
Entering for the exam
b. The applicant should select the relevant provision at the time of booking (the full list of provisions can be found in Appendix A of the Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments Policy at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds). Where further arrangements are required, the applicant should contact the Access Co-ordinator at [email protected] with further information before booking an exam.
c. Candidates who require reasonable adjustments (such as alternative tests, extra time for sight-reading or, for Music Theory exams, extra time or use of an amanuensis) must give supporting evidence at the time of booking. Details of the supporting evidence needed can be found at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds. Failing to submit supporting evidence for reasonable adjustments may be considered maladministration under ABRSM’s Malpractice and Maladministration Policy, available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
Alternative to graded exams
e. Candidates of any age whose needs mean that they are not able to access graded exams may find that the Performance Assessment is a suitable alternative. Performance Assessment involves performing a programme of own choice pieces lasting up to 15 minutes. For more information, see www.abrsm.org/performanceassessment.
a. Exam dates are dependent on the booking option chosen by the applicant:
- Public Venue: where the applicant is booking an exam (or exams) at a Public Venue organised by ABRSM during an exam session;
- Private Visit: where the applicant is booking exams at a private venue. These can take place either inside or outside of the exam session;
- Private Visit for candidates whose subjects cannot be taken at a Public Venue: where the applicant is booking exams for Harpsichord, Organ, percussion subjects, Choral Singing and Jazz Ensembles;
- ABRSM Jazz Visit: where the applicant is booking an exam (or exams) at a venue organised and run by ABRSM on set dates during an exam session.
- Remote Venue: where the applicant is booking an exam (or exams) which can be video recorded and submitted to ABRSM for assessment (Performance Grades and ARSM only). These take place during an exam session organised by ABRSM.
For full details, please visit www.abrsm.org/datesandfees.
Public Venue appointments
b. During the booking period, applicants will be able to use the online booking service to choose a venue and date from a list of available options for the exam session. Appointments may be given at any time between 09:00 and 17:30 on the date chosen. For further information, see www.abrsm.org/exam-appointments.
c. We will confirm the exam date, time and venue to the applicant, and candidates (parents/carers) with an account, as soon as possible after the booking period has closed and once appointment times have been allocated. The applicant and candidates (parents/carers) with an account will receive a notification by email (only) confirming that the appointment details are ready to view online.
d. Once the booking period has closed and exam times are confirmed, applicants and candidates (parents/carers) with an account can go online to search for and book into an alternative appointment, either at the same venue or a different one. For more information, see www.abrsm.org/exam-appointments. It is the responsibility of the applicant/candidate/parent/carer to notify all concerned parties of any changes to exam appointments.
e. Private Visits for practical exams (except Performance Grades) take place at approved venues organised by the Visit Organiser on a date(s) of their choice (except Sundays and Bank Holidays). Visit Organisers and any Permitted Applicants can book candidates at a practical Private Visit up to 28 days before the visit start date. Once the booking period has closed (28 days before the chosen start date) we will confirm the Private Visit booking with the Visit Organiser and any Permitted Applicants.
f. The Visit Organiser can log in to the online service and rearrange their Private Visit timetable once we have confirmed the booking, and up to 48 hours before the start date of the visit. It is the responsibility of the Visit Organiser to inform their candidates and any Permitted Applicants of their finalised exam appointments.
Private Visits for candidates whose subjects cannot be taken at a Public Venue
g. Harpsichord, Organ, percussion subjects, Choral Singing and Jazz Ensemble exams need to be booked as a Private Visit at an approved venue organised by the applicant. Applicants will be able to select a preferred start date on the online service or postal entry (where applicable).
h. Once the booking period has passed (28 days before the preferred start date), ABRSM will contact the applicant to confirm available dates and times. The Private Visit date is not guaranteed until ABRSM has made contact with the applicant.
ABRSM Jazz Visits
i. A list of available ABRSM Jazz Visit dates and venues will be published for the upcoming exam session when the booking period opens. Appointments may be given at any time between 09:00 and 17:30 on the date selected. For more information, see www.abrsm.org/exam-appointments
j. During the booking period, applicants will be able to use the online booking service to choose a remote venue and date from a list of available options for the exam session. This appointment will be the submission deadline to upload recordings to ABRSM. For further information, see www.abrsm.org/exam-appointments.
k. Once the booking period has closed and exam times are confirmed, applicants and candidates (parents/carers) with an account can go online to search for and book into an alternative appointment. For more information, see www.abrsm.org/exam-appointments. It is the responsibility of the applicant/candidate/parent/carer to notify all concerned parties of any changes to exam appointments.
a. Music Theory exams are held at set times and on set dates. For full details, please visit www.abrsm.org/datesandfees. All exams must be held on the published dates and times unless authorised in advance by ABRSM. Requests for alternative dates will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances and ABRSM’s decision is final.
b. Candidates for Music Theory exams should only be entered for an exam session where the set date and time are suitable for them.
c. The date, time and venue will be shown on the online service at the time of booking. The applicant and candidates (parents/carers) with an account will receive an email to let them know that they can go online to view their confirmed exam details. The applicant will also receive a postal notification confirming the exam details (including the names and levels of the candidates entered, and any access arrangements or reasonable adjustments).
d. We send a name label for each candidate to the applicant with the postal notification, and the candidate must bring this name label to the exam. If the label is lost, candidates should write their name on the question paper in the space provided.
a. We provide Public Venues for practical exams (except Performance Grades) and Music Theory exams.
b. The venue details will be available online at the time of booking.
c. We reserve the right not to open a Public Venue if there are not enough bookings. In this case, we will offer an appointment at an alternative venue.
d. Public Venues for practical exams (except Performance Grades) have:
- a waiting room (or area);
- an exam room which is, where possible, out of hearing of the waiting room;
- a suitable piano, which may be upright or grand;
- a music stand, though candidates are welcome to bring their own if they prefer;
- a steward;
- an additional room (or area), where possible, for candidates to briefly warm up out of hearing of the exam room, though we cannot guarantee to provide this.
e. Public Venues for Music Theory exams have:
- an exam room;
- writing-tables that allow reasonable spacing of candidates;
- invigilators, who are present for the whole exam.
f. Except in relation to liabilities which cannot be excluded by law, ABRSM cannot accept liability for any damage, injury, expense or loss (including consequential loss) incurred at a Public Venue.
a. Practical exams (except Performance Grades) and/or Music Theory exams may be held at an approved venue provided by a Visit Organiser in accordance with the regulations and requirements stipulated below; this is known as a Private Visit. The Visit Organiser may or may not be an applicant.
b. Visit Organisers hosting a Private Visit must request approval for any new venue before booking exams. This can be done via their online account by submitting an Approval Application Form. Confirmation of approval can take up to eight working days.
c. Visit Organisers hosting a Private Visit are responsible for all matters relating to the successful running of exams at their venue, including responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of candidates and other visitors. Visit Organisers must make sure that they:
- have adequate insurance cover; except in relation to liabilities which cannot be excluded by law, ABRSM cannot accept liability for any damage, injury, expense or loss (including consequential loss) incurred during the course of a visit; take appropriate safeguarding steps and make arrangements to ensure that the health and
- well-being of candidates is not put at risk, including that no candidate is under the age of 18 is left alone with an adult who has not been subject to appropriate recruitments and vetting procedures that are in line with current guidelines and in accordance with our Safeguarding Children Policy, Procedures and Code of Practice, available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
Private Visits for practical exams (except Performance Grades)
d. The booking options are presented at www.abrsm.org/exam-venues-and-visits and cater either for:
- applicants with sufficiently large numbers of candidates;
- candidates whose subjects cannot be taken at a Public Venue (Harpsichord, Organ, percussion subjects, Choral Singing and Jazz Ensemble).
e. Exams should not normally begin before 09:00 or end later than 17:30. A 15 minute break will be scheduled each morning and afternoon, in addition to a lunch break of 1 hour 5 minutes. The maximum total examining time for a day should not normally exceed 6 hours 30 minutes.
f. A Visit Organiser may allow other Permitted Applicants to book exams at their Private Visit in order to meet the minimum time requirement, but the exams must be held at a single venue. An applicant wishing to take part in a Private Visit must seek permission from the Visit Organiser before making a booking and will need to request the relevant Venue Code. The Visit Organiser hosting the Private Visit is responsible for the provision of suitable facilities and arrangements and for compliance with instructions and timetables from ABRSM.
g. Full details of the requirements for a Private Visit venue, along with the Terms and Conditions for Visit Organisers, can be found at www.abrsm.org/exam-venues-and-visits.
h. Where a Private Visit is solely for a Choral Singing exam, an examiner attendance fee is charged. For more information, see www.abrsm.org/datesandfees.
Private Visits for Music Theory exams
i. Music Theory exams may be held at a registered educational institution, music service or education department at a prison/hospital.
a. Remote assessments (available for Performance Grades and ARSM only) can be taken at a venue of the candidate/applicant’s choosing. This can be the candidate’s school, their teacher’s studio, or any other location where appropriate space and instruments are available (including a suitable piano for any accompaniments). The venue can also be the candidate’s home.
b. The candidate/applicant is responsible for organising the venue and any equipment needed to run the exam (e.g. music stand, recording device).
a. Candidates taking any exams which can either be used as a prerequisite for higher grades and diplomas or used as part of a university application are required to provide a form of photographic identification documentation (photo ID) in accordance with our Candidate Identification Policy (www.abrsm.org/policies). These exams include:
- Music Theory: All grades
- Practical Grades: Grades 5 (Jazz only), 6, 7 and 8
- Performance Grades: Grades 6, 7 and 8
- Practical Musicianship: Grades 5 and 8
a. The timings of practical exams are given at www.abrsm.org/examtimings. These timings show the approximate length of each exam, including (where applicable) the candidate’s entry and exit, any tuning time and time for the examiner to finish the mark form between exams. Please note that these are notional timings and, in a live exam, examiners may take more or less time than the given timings. The timings for Performance Grades show the maximum programme time set for each grade, measured from the start of the first piece.
b. Candidates taking any exams which can either be used as a prerequisite for higher grades and diplomas, or used as part of a university application are required to provide a form of photographic identification documentation (photo ID) (see.www.abrsm.org/policies).
Exams taken at a Public Venue or Private Visit (including Jazz)
c. The steward will have a candidate list showing the timetable and each candidate’s appointment time.
d. If a candidate is withdrawn from a booking (or given another appointment), the appointment times for other candidates will stay the same.
Arriving at the venue
e. Candidates must be ready 10 minutes before the start time of their appointment. Although every effort will be made to accommodate candidates who arrive late, they may find that their exam cannot be conducted.
f. It is recommended that candidates under the age of 15 are accompanied to the venue by a responsible adult. Space in the waiting room may be limited, therefore candidates should not bring more than one escort.
g. Candidates (including their accompanists, page-turners, BSL interpreters or chaperones) are not allowed to bring any unauthorised material or equipment (such as recording devices) into the exam room, and mobile phones must be switched off. Anyone breaking this rule may be disqualified. Further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy is available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
h. Candidates in solo Jazz subjects (except Jazz Piano) may bring a device such as a phone, tablet or laptop into the exam for the purposes of playing backing tracks. Devices must be switched off unless they are being used for this purpose, and should never be used to record any part of the exam.
i. All sheet music purchased via digital download must be printed. Candidates are not permitted to read music from devices in the exam.
j. We audio record exams for monitoring, quality assurance and training purposes. These recordings are the property of ABRSM and are deleted after the conclusion of each exam session, with the exception of selected examples which may be used for training. Candidates will not be identified or identifiable in recordings used for training.
k. No-one, except the steward and the representative, is allowed to listen outside (or stay near the door of) the exam room.
The people present
l. These people may be present in the exam room:
- Examiners: Only one examiner is usually present in the exam room, however a second examiner may be present for training or quality assurance purposes.
- Accompanists: Applicants must make sure that candidates bring their own accompanist. The candidate’s teacher may accompany; the examiner will not accompany under any circumstances (except in the Prep Test). The accompanist may stay in the exam room only while accompanying.
- Page-turners: Candidates for Practical Grades Initial–5 are expected to make any page turns in their music themselves. Organ candidates at any grade, and candidates and accompanists for Practical Grades 6–8 and ARSM, are allowed to bring a page-turner (who may also act as registrant for Organ exams) to help with awkward page turns; prior permission is not required; the turner may be the teacher. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.
- BSL interpreters: Candidates who intend to bring a BSL interpreter to their exam must declare this at the point of booking. The interpreter may not be the candidate’s music teacher or a relative. In all cases, approval must be requested in advance from ABRSM.
- Chaperones: With the exceptions detailed above, the candidate is not allowed to bring any other person into the exam room. However, in exceptional circumstances, ABRSM may give permission for an extra person to be present with the candidate. To request this, the applicant should nominate a chaperone at the time of booking and give details of the reasons for the request. The chaperone may not be the candidate’s teacher or a relative of the candidate.
Exams taken at a Remote Venue (Performance Grades and ARSM only)
m. The repertoire must be performed and recorded in one continuous take.
n. Candidates should show a written programme and the opening of their own-choice piece/song, as well as verbally introduce themselves and their repertoire before beginning their performance. Examiners will start assessing candidates from the point at which they start to perform their repertoire.
o. Where candidates are under 18, the recording process must be overseen by a Responsible Adult who must be aged 18 or over, and may be the applicant, teacher or parent/guardian.
p. These people may be present during the recording:
- Accompanists: Applicants must make sure that candidates perform with a live accompaniment, which should be organised by them. The candidate’s teacher may accompany.
- Page-turners: Candidates may use a page-turner (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the teacher).
- Responsible Adults: Where candidates are under 18, the recording process must be overseen by a Responsible Adult who must be aged 18 or over, and may be the applicant, teacher or parent/guardian.
- People who are not actively involved in the performance must be out of view of the camera and should not disrupt or direct the programme, or interfere with the recording in any way.
q. Recordings must be submitted to ABRSM using the online booking service by the submission deadline, chosen at the point of booking. Once the deadline has passed, the upload link will no longer be accessible and the candidate will be marked as absent.
r. Recordings will be kept by ABRSM for 90 days after the exam result is issued, and then will be destroyed automatically.
s. The exam recording is made for the sole purpose of ABRSM’s assessment, and it must not be shared or used for any other purpose. Sharing the recording may risk infringing the rights of composers and/or their music publishes, for which the candidate could be liable. During the process of recording and submitting the exam only, you are allowed to share the recording with anyone who is directly involved with the exam, such the applicant or teacher. This means that The recording of the exam must not be shared with any other person or uploaded to file sharing or social media websites such as Facebook or YouTube. If the exam recording is shared with anyone other than ABRSM or the people directly involved with the exams (as outlined above) the candidate may be disqualified. Further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy is available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
Exam music and performance requirements
t. All practical exams are conducted in line with the relevant syllabus. Applicants must make sure that they read the syllabus and bring relevant parts to the attention of candidates.
u. Applicants, teachers and candidates are advised to pay close attention to the requirements shown in the syllabus lists. A ‘piece’ is all the music set under one number-heading in a syllabus list (unless a choice is specifically given), and may include more than one movement from a work or more than one item from a book.
v. The initial tempo indication (or section title) of a piece/movement may be listed in the syllabus. Where a movement or piece is made up of more than one tempo indication (or section title), the whole movement or piece must still be played in the exam (unless otherwise indicated).
w. For exams taken at a Public Venue or Private Visit (including Jazz), examiners may stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to make a judgement or, for ARSM, if the upper time limit of the programme is exceeded (see www.abrsm.org/performance-arsm).
x. Candidates may not perform the same repertoire (in full or individual pieces/songs) for both a Performance Grade and a Practical Grade qualification. If choosing to enter at the same grade for both qualifications, irrespective of when the exams are taken, the pieces presented must be different.
y. Candidates who do not fulfil the syllabus requirements or regulations (e.g. performing a piece not listed in the syllabus, performing only part of a piece or, for Performance Grades and ARSM, performing a programme which is too short or too long/has too few or too many pieces, or an own-choice piece of an inappropriate standard) may be penalised or, in some cases, disqualified.
z. Candidates may choose to take the individual sections of a Practical Grade exam in any order (although, ideally, accompanied pieces should be performed one after the other). If a candidate is going to begin with any section other than the accompanied pieces (where applicable), the steward should be told before the start of the exam, so that the accompanist can enter the exam room at the right time).
aa. Applicants must make sure that candidates in solo Jazz subjects (except Jazz Piano) provide their own means of playing ABRSM’s published backing tracks if they choose to use them instead of live accompaniment.
bb. Examiners may ask to look at the candidate’s or accompanist’s copy of the music before or after the performance of a piece or, for ARSM, after the programme. A separate copy of the music is not required. Performance Grade and ARSM candidates submitting video recordings for assessment must show their own-choice piece(s) to the camera at the start of the exam.
cc. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that candidates follow the law of the country where the exam is being held for the making and use of photocopies (or other kinds of copies).
dd. In the UK, the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 does not allow the making or use of photocopies (or other kinds of copies) or copyright works. However, the Music Publishers’ Association’s Code of Fair Practice (available at www.mpaonline.org.uk) allows copies to be made in certain limited circumstances (such as difficulty with a particular page-turn) if the copyright holder is listed on the MPA website or in Appendix B of the Code of Fair Practice.
ee. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made. For exams taken at a Public Venue or Private Visit (including Jazz), evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam. For candidates taking their exam at a Remote Venue, we may ask to see evidence of such permission before releasing results.
ff. We may withhold the exam result of any candidate if we have evidence of the use of an illegal copy (or copies) for that exam.
a. Timings for Music Theory exams are:
- Grades 1–3: 1½ hours
- Grades 4–5: 2 hours
- Grades 6–8: 3 hours
b. Where English is not a candidate's first language, the applicant can request on the online service for the candidate to bring a bilingual paper dictionary and receive 15 minutes extra time. Requests must be made at the time of booking.
Arriving at the venue
c. Candidates should arrive 10 minutes before the start of the exam, unless told otherwise.
d. Any candidate arriving more than 35 minutes after the start of the exam will not be admitted.
e. It is recommended that candidates under the age of 15 are accompanied to the venue by a responsible adult, though we cannot guarantee to provide a waiting area for escorts.
f. Candidates taking any exams which can either be used as a prerequisite for higher grades and diplomas, or used as part of a university application are required to provide a form of photographic identification documentation (photo ID) (see.www.abrsm.org/policies).
In the exam
g. Candidates must bring their name label and their own pens or pencils.
h. Plain ruled manuscript and blank paper is supplied for candidates to do any rough working.
i. Candidates are not allowed to bring mobile phones, other electronic devices or any unauthorised material or equipment (such as their own manuscript or other paper, any representation of the piano keyboard or recording devices) into the exam room.
j. Candidates must not talk, or in any way communicate, with each other during the exam.
k. Any candidate breaking these rules may be disqualified. Further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy is available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
The people present
l. Invigilators are present for the whole exam.
Conduct of the exam
m. The invigilators open the sealed packets of question papers in the exam room in front of the candidates.
n. The time allowed is printed at the top of each question paper.
o. Candidates must:
- follow all invigilator instructions and not cause any disruption. Invigilators may ask a candidate to leave if they are causing disruption to other candidates;
- stick their name label at the top of their question paper;
- start their exam only when instructed. Any notes made on rough paper before the exam begins will be confiscated;
- make sure they are not in possession of a mobile phone, smart watch or other electronic storage device during their exam;
- fill in their question paper without help or reference to notes, musical calculators or books of any kind. Any candidate infringing this rule or helping another candidate may be investigated for malpractice and subject to a penalty (further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy can be found at www.abrsm.org/policies);
- write their answers clearly and legibly, or marks may be lost.
p. Candidates may leave the exam room at any time after 40 minutes from the start of the exam. If a candidate wishes to hand in their question paper, they should stay seated and raise their hand until an invigilator approaches them to collect it.
q. Candidates who are allowed to temporarily leave the exam room must be escorted as appropriate. They should stay seated and raise their hand until an invigilator approaches them.
r. After handing in their question paper, candidates must leave the exam room and may not return. Once candidates have left the exam room, they are no longer under the invigilators' supervision.
s. As each question paper is handed in, the invigilators will check that the candidate’s full name appears clearly at the top.
t. Candidates must not take any question papers or rough notes from the room.
After the exam
u. The invigilators seal the question papers in secure envelopes and send them to us in line with given instructions.
v. We do not accept responsibility for question papers lost in the post. In these cases, the exam fee is refunded.
a. Our marking criteria are given at www.abrsm.org/markingcriteria and in the relevant syllabus.
Issuing results online (practical exams and Music Theory)
b. Examiners report directly to ABRSM and are not allowed to pass information about exam results to any other person.
c. Results are published online and a notification is emailed to the applicant to let them know when they can log in and view their results. The applicant is responsible for passing results on to candidates. Candidates (parents/carers) with an account will receive an email seven days after the results have been released to the applicant allowing them to log in and view their own results directly.
d. Results are issued in line with the schedules on our website at www.abrsm.org/results.
e. Except where we have been negligent or at fault, we do not accept responsibility for the loss or non-receipt of any results after they have been posted. If an applicant has not received results within the expected time, they should tell us. If we confirm that results have been posted, the applicant should contact their local postal sorting office, in case they are being held for collection. We allow 28 days after posting for undelivered or wrongly delivered results to be returned to us. During this time, the applicant may ask for written confirmation of marks. If results are still missing after this period, the applicant should tell us and we will issue replacement mark forms/certificates.
f. We may confirm results to another concerned party (e.g. a parent or head teacher) in the following circumstances:
- serious illness or death of the applicant;
- failure by the applicant to pass on results within eight weeks of being sent by ABRSM.
In these cases, we will try to verify the circumstances, after which written confirmation of results and/or duplicate certificates may be issued directly to the relevant concerned party.
g. The result of a past exam may be confirmed in writing to a concerned party (e.g. an applicant, candidate or parent). For details of the fee and to download a Past Results Search Form, visit www.abrsm.org.
h. Results are only issued in line with the procedures described above; we will not give exam results by telephone or email.
i. Marks are not awarded for the Prep Test or Performance Assessment. A certificate with helpful comments is written by the examiner and presented to the candidate at the end of the assessment.
j. A digital mark form is issued to each practical and Online Theory exam candidate. All mark forms are subject to automatic checks before being issued. The mark form shows the marks awarded for each section of the exam and the total number of marks, as well as comments from the examiner for practical exams. If a candidate achieves marks which add up to less than half the overall pass mark, the mark form will only show the examiner’s comments (i.e. with no marks).
k. A paper mark form is issued to each Grade 6-8 Music Theory candidate. The mark form gives a breakdown of the marks awarded for each question and the total number of marks. Music Theory question papers are not returned after marking.
l. Successful candidates receive a certificate showing the exam subject and level that they have been examined at. Successful ARSM candidates may add the letters of the qualification after their name.
m. Certificates do not certify that the holders are qualified to teach.
n. We can supply duplicate certificates on request. For details of the fee and to download a Certificate Replacement Form, visit www.abrsm.org/datesandfees.
Entry to higher education
o. A Distinction result at Grade 8 or ARSM level does not necessarily suggest suitability for admission to any of the Royal Schools of Music or other higher education institution, or for a professional career in music. Candidates should contact individual institutions for details of the relevant entrance requirements.
q. Candidates are encouraged to include their ABRSM qualifications on university applications even if they do not accrue UCAS points. This is especially important for ARSM, which is a Level 4 qualification and therefore does not have a UCAS points tariff value.
National Pupil Database
a. Special consideration may be given by ABRSM to a candidate whose performance in an exam is felt to have been affected by, or who does not finish an exam because of, circumstances beyond their reasonable control.
b. Examiners are not allowed to decide whether special consideration should be given. This decision can only be made by ABRSM, and only if a valid application for special consideration is made. Further details, including the procedure for applying for special consideration, are given in our Special Consideration Policy, available at www.abrsm.org/policies.
Questions about results
a. Specific guidance for questions about results and marking reviews can be found at www.abrsm.org/examconcerns.
b. We welcome feedback about results and other matters. All feedback is logged and plays a valuable part in our quality assurance procedures. Guidance on submitting feedback can be found at www.abrsm.org/examconcerns.
a. We are committed to inspiring achievement in music. Our qualifications are used by thousands of people to support their music learning or teaching. Many people also use them when applying to study at further and higher education institutions. It is therefore vital that our qualifications remain a valuable and reliable measure of a candidate’s skills and knowledge. We therefore take any form of malpractice or maladministration very seriously.
- Malpractice is defined as any act which compromises or is an attempt to compromise the assessment process, the integrity of any qualification or the validity of a result or certificate. This also includes any ac which damages our reputation or credibility as an awarding organisation.
- Maladministration is defined as any act which breaches the regulations through a mismanagement of administrative processes, particularly where such a breach could compromise the integrity of a qualification or assessment.
b. Applicants and candidates must follow the requirements set out in these Exam Regulations and all other ABRSM policies about the delivery of our exams. In cases where applicants or candidates have committed malpractice, a sanction or penalty may be given. Further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy can be found at www.abrsm.org/policies.
a. We acknowledge that we have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of children taking our exams or under our temporary care. All staff and volunteers working on behalf of ABRSM are required to accept this responsibility and are committed to practices that protect children from harm.
b. Our Safeguarding Children Policy, Procedures and Code of Practice, produced in consultation with NSPCC, is available at www.abrsm.org/policies. The policy includes a Code of Practice for all who work on behalf of the organisation. We are committed to reviewing our Safeguarding Children Policy and Code of Practice at regular intervals and may change the content from time to time.
c. Any concerns about a child’s or children’s welfare and/or safety must be reported immediately to ABRSM’s Designated Safeguarding Person at [email protected]
a. We are committed to providing equality of opportunity and treatment for all, and will not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristics in its dealings with any candidate, applicant, parent, teacher, examiner, representative, invigilator or steward.
b. We are registered as a data controller with the UK information Commissioner’s Office under registration number Z6618494.
The Law that applies to these Exam Regulations and where legal proceedings may be brought
a. The contract between the applicant and ABRSM is governed by English law and the applicant and ABRSM must bring legal proceedings in respect of this contract in the English courts.
Rights in relation to the enforcement of these Exam Regulations
b. If ABRSM chooses not to enforce any part of this contract, or delays enforcing it, this will not affect ABRSM’s right to enforce the same part later (or on a separate occasion) or the rest of this contract. And, if ABRSM cannot enforce any part of this contract, this will not affect ABRSM’s right to enforce the rest of this contract.
- Deliver each assessment in line with ABRSM policies and procedures, including (but not limited to) the Exam Regulations, Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments Policy, and Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.
- Assess all candidates in line with the guidance provided in the Instructions for Completing Exams in Summer 2020. Marks for the teacher-assessed sections of the exam may be adjusted by ABRSM if there is evidence to suggest that they are inaccurate.
- Teachers must not share teacher-assessed marks with anyone except ABRSM.
- Make sure that candidates only share the audio recording of their exam with ABRSM (and, in particular, that candidates do not upload that recording to any file sharing or social media website).
- Keep a copy of submitted assessment records for three months after the assessment has taken place, and provide them to ABRSM on request.
- Respond to any complaints from candidates/applicant about teacher-assessed marks for Aural tests and Sight-reading within five working days of receiving the complaint.
- Send to ABRSM a report of any complaints about teacher-assessed marks which have not been resolved within 28 days of receipt. Cooperate with ABRSM over any actions to resolve the issue(s).
- Immediately forward any:
- complaints relating to the examiner, or ABRSM’s processes or products;
- malpractice allegations, or
- appeals against results of examiner assessment, malpractice decisions or decisions regarding special consideration, access arrangements or reasonable adjustments.
- Where the teacher has not complied with any policies or procedures, in cases of malpractice or other significant failure, ABRSM reserves the right to sanction appropriately, which may include:
- refusing to issue, or to withdraw, certificates;
- debarring a teacher from entering candidate for ABRSM qualifications for a specified period of time.
Responsible Adult Obligations – Music Theory exams
- Run the exam in accordance with the directions provided in the Instructions for Completing Exams in Summer 2020.
- Once ABRSM has confirmed receipt, destroy the completed exam paper and booklet after uploading the completed work to ABRSM.
- The responsible adult and candidate must not share exam papers with anyone except ABRSM.
- After the Booking Period, candidates will be sent a link to the email address provided for them at the time of entry for the Online Music Theory exam proctoring platform, RPNow.
- Candidates will also be sent their password and Username (ABRSM Contact ID), which the candidate will need to log in on the exam day.
Equipment and exam security
- To complete the exam candidates will require a laptop/desktop with a webcam facility. Full technical requirements can be found here.
- The exam platform, proctoring and test delivery are provided by a 3rd party supplier called PSI. Candidates will be filmed for the duration of the exam via the webcam and exam software, and each exam will be reviewed by trained proctors after the exam is completed. Filming begins as soon as the software is launched, and only stops recording once the software is shutdown. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the necessary parental consent has been granted for candidates to be filmed.
- Candidates will be required to display their Candidate ID, take a photo of themselves using the exam software, and film a scan of the room at the start of the exam when prompted.
- Candidates should refer to Remote Proctoring in ABRSM Online Theory exams to see what material they are allowed in the exam and what the proctors are required to look for. In the event that the video displays any explicit footage (for example, nudity, abuse/self-harm, adult content) requiring a proctor to cease viewing the video, ABRSM reserves the right not to issue the result as we cannot verify the exam was taken according to our regulations.
- For vulnerable adults, candidates under 18, and any venues hosting multiple candidates, a Responsible Adult must be present in the room at the beginning of the exam to help with the initial set up.
- Candidates are able to sit at venues hosting multiple candidates. For these venues, a Responsible Adult is required and candidates must sit either back-to-back, face-to-face, or a sufficient distance away from each other to ensure they cannot see each other’s screens. All candidates must be appropriately socially distanced. Once the necessary ID checks and room scans are complete and the exam has started, the candidate needs to state in to the microphone “I am sitting with other candidates and the Responsible Adult is present” so the proctor is aware. Candidates should not attempt to communicate or collude with other candidates during the exam. Further guidance can be found here.
- Candidates displaying suspicious activity will be reported to ABRSM, who will review the video of the assessment and take appropriate action in line with the Malpractice and Maladministration Policy (abrsm.org/policies).
Enter exams in line with the guidance provided in the Instructions for Completing Diplomas 20201 and the ABRSM syllabus, including but not limited to;
1. Submitting all entries, supporting materials and payments electronically.
2. Providing copies of music for the Examiner only on request.
3. Complying with all Health and Safety and social distancing measures in place at exam venues.
Visit Organiser Obligations
Organise exams in line with the guidance provided in the Instructions for Completing Diplomas 2021, including but not limited to;
1. Ensuring the venue is compliant with all Health and Safety and social distancing measures requested by ABRSM along with local legislation, and inform ABRSM immediately of any instance where this will not be possible.
2. Informing ABRSM immediately of any regional changes that will affect the delivery of diploma exams.
Visit organisers must follow the requirements set out in these Exam Regulations and all other ABRSM policies about the delivery of our exams. In cases where malpractice or maladministration has been committed, a sanction or penalty may be given. Further information about our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy can be found at www.abrsm.org/policies.
In these Exam Regulations, the following words have the meanings given here:
ABRSM exam An exam where ABRSM provides music exam services, examining the candidate on the relevant syllabus.
Applicant Anyone who is 18 or over and submits a booking for an ABRSM exam (often the school, music teacher, parent of a candidate or the candidate, if he or she is 18 or over).
ARSM Associate of the Royal Schools of Music (ARSM) is a performance-only diploma.
Booking period The set period of time when applicants can make exam bookings.
Candidate Anyone entered by an applicant to sit an ABRSM exam. Where a candidate is 18 or over and books their own exam, he or she will also be the applicant.
Contact ID Everyone using our online service will receive a unique Contact ID. Applicants will be given a Contact ID when they set up an online account. Candidates will be given a Contact ID once they’ve been entered for an exam using the online booking service. Contact IDs will appear on all communications about exam bookings. Applicants do not need to use a Contact ID to book exams. However, once a candidate has a Contact ID it should be entered, along with their date of birth, every time an exam booking is made for them.
Ensemble exam An exam for any combination of two to ten instrumentalists and/or singers. Other types of ensemble exams, for which there are separate and distinct syllabuses, are Choral Singing and Jazz Ensembles.
Exam session The time period when ABRSM exams are held at Public Venues. Exam sessions are listed at www.abrsm.org/dates.
Exam subject The subject (instrument, voice or Music Theory) in which the candidate is examined using the relevant syllabus.
Music Theory exam An exam where a candidate is assessed on their understanding of music theory through a written paper.
Online service ABRSM’s new online service for booking exams and viewing results from 2020 onwards.
Performance Assessment An assessment aimed at candidates for whom a graded music exam might not be suitable. The examiner gives helpful written comments on the performance; marks are not awarded.
Performance Grade A type of graded practical exam where the candidate is assessed playing a programme of music on their instrument/voice. There are no supporting tests.
Permitted Applicants Applicants who have received permission from a Visit Organiser to book candidates at the Visit Organiser’s Private Visit.
Practical exam An exam where a candidate is assessed playing an instrument or singing.
Practical Grade A type of graded practical exam where the candidate is assessed playing an instrument or singing, and on supporting tests.
Practical Musicianship A type of graded practical exam where the candidate is assessed on their response to immediate challenges and stimuli (aural and notated) by playing or singing.
Prep Test An informal beginner-level assessment to encourage good musical and technical foundations. The examiner gives helpful written comments; marks are not awarded.
Prerequisite The qualification(s) that a candidate will need to complete before entering for practical exams at Grades 6–8 and ARSM exams.
Private Visit Where a venue is provided and overseen by a Visit Organiser (who may or may not be an applicant) for the purposes of holding ABRSM exams. The costs of the visit (including venue hire, stewarding and invigilating) are not incurred by ABRSM, and any candidate taking their exam at the visit must have first gained permission from the Visit Organiser.
Public Venue An exam venue provided by ABRSM. Facilities and arrangements at Public Venues are organised and overseen by ABRSM.
Remote assessment Where an exam is assessed by video recording submitted to ABRSM instead of in a live, face-to-face setting at a Public Venue or Private Visit. Remote assessment is available for Performance Grades and ARSM only.
Remote Venue A venue of the candidate’s/applicant’s choosing for exams which are offered by remote assessment (Performance Grades and ARSM only). This can be the candidate’s school, their teacher’s studio, or any other location where appropriate space and instruments are available (including a suitable piano for any accompaniments). The venue can also be the candidate’s home.
Responsible Adult An individual who oversees an exam and recording process at a Remote Venue. The Responsible Adult must be aged 18 or over, and may be the applicant, teacher or parent/guardian.
Representative An individual who oversees ABRSM exam arrangements within a country, or region of that country, and who can answer general questions from local applicants, teachers, parents and candidates.
Syllabus The document which explains the requirements of an ABRSM exam and gives further information. Syllabuses can be found at www.abrsm.org/exams.
Venue Codes All Private Visits are given a unique identification code, once approved. The Visit Organiser shares this code with any Permitted Applicants, who will then need to enter the code when they book their candidates at the Private Visit.
Visit Organiser The person who books and runs Private Visits, who may or may not be an applicant. The Visit Organiser is responsible for going online to book and create their Private Visit and for sharing their Venue Code with any Permitted Applicants. Visit Organisers are also responsible for finalising the timetable and for sharing this information with their candidates and any Permitted Applicants