I'm trying to get a sense of what is and is not a passing standard for the various grades. You can read the assessment criteria, but they are (for necessary reasons) pretty vague too "A good sense of... good application of..." Good is something of a moveable feast relative to grade levels - some pretty scratchy bowing is accepted at the Prep Test but won't fly in grade 5. The standard of acceptable presentation moves with the grades too, and while I have a pretty secure sense of what music goes with which grade level in terms of technical difficulty, expected range of techniques, etc. it's hard to know what is an OK standard to present in the exam and what is not. The CDs and such present you with a professional performance, and whilst it would be lovely to aspire to turning up to a grade 1 exam with a technically proficient and musical performance on a great instrument with a wide range of techniques and brilliant dynamics, a musical performance that makes you weep with its intricacy...well, it's grade 1, something nervous, wooden and with the odd mistake in it is probably nearer the mark.
Just how well do you have to do to pass? I've done the general maths and found that if you get a perfect score on aural tests you can actually marginally fail all the pieces and still pass your exam - bodes well for players of second, third and more instruments whose early grade aural presents no challenges whatsoever. I just can't get a sense of what is a passing level and what is not, and I'm even more confused after doing my music medals training. The platinum music level is meant to correlate to about grade 3 standard and performances with errors in them are still passing performances. Anyone can have a bad moment when a position shift goes wrong, a brass instrument refuses to emit the correct note, a clarinet squeaks, but I'm surprised that actual wrong notes and false starts came away with passes too.