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Latest exam updates

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.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details.

Our mission at ABRSM is to inspire musical achievement. We believe everyone has the right to enjoy and excel at music. We also understand that everyone’s musical journey is different. This is why we’re committed to creating new opportunities for people to achieve their goals.

Key Information

  • We began rolling out our remotely-assessed Performance Grades from the end of 2020. To check the latest information about exam booking periods and sessions, see our dates and fees page.
  • Our Performance Grades are not replacing our existing Practical Grades, they offer an additional route to musical progress.
  • You can also choose to switch between our Performance and Practical exams as you progress through the grades.
  • The exams are equivalent in demand and value to our existing graded music exams, but have a different emphasis with a focus on performance.
  • For the exam, candidates select and perform four pieces or songs, presented as a continuous programme: at least three pieces need to be from our existing syllabus (one from each list) and one is of the candidate’s own choice. Full programming requirements, including timings, are given in the relevant syllabus (available to download from this page).
  • Performance Grades are assessed remotely: choose your pieces/songs, practise your performance and - when you’re ready – record a video of your performance and send it to us for marking by our examiner panel. 
  • 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 item. A further 30 marks are then available for the ‘performance as a whole’. Examiners will use our established criteria to mark the pieces – assessing pitch, time, tone, shape and performance. You can find the full assessment criteria in the qualification specification.
  • If a candidate is ready to record their Performance Grade exam, they can do this at any time from now on, as long as they follow the full guidance, qualification specification and syllabus requirements available on this page. We hope this flexibility to record now and submit later (once an exam has been booked) will provide opportunities for learners to record their performance at a time that works for them.
  • You must read the full ‘Guidance for remotely-assessed Performance Grade exams’ available under Key Documents on this page, before you make any exam recordings. This guidance covers in detail how to record and submit a Performance Grade video.  You should also read our ‘Special COVID-19 arrangements for accompaniment in remotely-assessed exams’ (PDF) which are in place until at least 31 July 2021.
  • 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 Performance exam.
  • As with our Practical Grades, students taking Performance Grades 6 to 8 will receive UCAS (University and Colleges Admission Service) points which can be used as part of a university or college application in the UK.
  • Alongside Performance Grade exams at Grades 1 to 8, we are offering a remotely-assessed option for taking the ARSM diploma. The exam content and requirements are unchanged, but the Qualification Specification (syllabus) has been updated to include information and requirements relevant to the remotely-assessed option. Full information about ARSM is available at www.abrsm.org/arsmdiploma

Key Documents

How to book a remotely-assessed Performance Grade or ARSM

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