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Fair access guidelines for Performance Grades

Introduction

These guidelines are for candidates with specific needs who want to take a digital Performance Grade. Please review the information in these guidelines before booking your exam to decide if a digital Performance Grade is the most appropriate qualification for you. It is important to understand that we are not able to make any concessions in the marking – we treat all candidates equally. 

If you have questions or specific requirements that are not covered by these guidelines, please contact our Specific Needs Team by emailing [email protected].

It is important that you select the relevant access option when you book using our online service. You should do this even if you have requested access arrangements or reasonable adjustments before. 

Please note, we are unable to provide reasonable adjustments if you tell us after you've booked your exam. 

For the majority of arrangements outlined below, we do not require supporting documentation. This is because we are not making changes to the assessment. 

Where we do require supporting documentation, please send this to [email protected]. Please see the Specific Needs Policy for details. 

We are aware that you may need to disclose information that is personal and sensitive. To understand how we handle your information, please see our Privacy Policy

Written comments: marks will always reflect the standard of your performance. However, examiners will aim to avoid comments that may draw undue attention to your specific needs and any reasonable adjustments. 

Providing additional information to the examiner: we do not usually require any further information about your specific needs. Selecting the relevant access option on the online booking form will alert the examiner. Examiners are aware of the challenges you may face and the impact that your specific needs may have on your performance. While we cannot take these into account in the marking, examiners will do their best to ensure the mark form comments are sensitive and do not draw undue attention to factors that are beyond your control. 

However, if you feel there is information the examiner should have which is relevant to your performance, please contact the Specific Needs Team ahead of making your booking. 

Access options

Introducing yourself and your programme: If you are unable to introduce yourself and your programme, or hold up your own-choice repertoire to camera, the responsible adult or accompanist can do this. The examiner will only start their assessment once you start to perform. You do not need to tell us and no supporting documentation is required. 

If you have specific needs, you can select from the following list when booking a digital exam. Please see the notes below for further details. 

  • Rest breaks required 
  • Chaperone required 
  • Prompter required 
  • Specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia and dyspraxia) 
  • Autism 
  • ADHD 
  • Visual impairment 
  • Hearing impairment 
  • Physical difficulties 
  • Tics 
Adjustments
Rest breaks

You may take rest breaks during the performance if your specific needs make this necessary. For example, you may have a physical condition such as arthritis or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or you may have a neurological condition or specific learning difficulty that make it difficult to sustain concentration for the duration of your performance. 

Note that this extra time is for rest breaks rather than the performance of your pieces/songs. 

You may take one long rest, or several shorter rests, up to the maximum amount shown below. Please note the times below are the maximum permitted breaks and you should decide what is the optimum length of break for you in each instance. The video should be left running but the examiner will not assess you during these breaks. However, the examiner may assess how you manage the transitions from your performance into your rest breaks and vice versa. 

  • Grades 1 to 3: 5 minutes 
  • Grades 4 and 5: 10 minutes 
  • Grades 6 and 7: 15 minutes 
  • Grade 8: 20 minutes 
  • ARSM: 30 minutes 

These roughly equate to 100% extra time. 

Please select ‘rest breaks required’ when booking your exam. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Chaperone

A chaperone is someone who can provide support or encouragement to you during your performance. The chaperone can sit next to you and can be on or off camera. Please select ‘chaperone required’ when booking your exam. You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Prompter

We are aware that some candidates may routinely require prompting to start a particular piece or to play pieces in a particular order. This should be undertaken by the responsible adult or accompanist. 

While the continuity, sequencing and pacing of the whole performance does form part of the assessment and may be affected by prompting, there are other elements that the examiner can focus on, such as choice and order of repertoire, balance, variety, instrument management, and engagement with the music. 

Please select ’prompter required’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] to explain the nature of support that is required. 

No supporting documentation is required. 

Specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia and dyspraxia)

If you have specific learning difficulties you may have the score available for reference in Singing and Singing for Musical Theatre exams. 

Please select ‘specific learning difficulties’ when making your exam booking. 

You do not need to notify us but supporting documentation is required. 

Autism and ADHD

Being distracted 

If you find that your attention is easily distracted, try to ensure the performance venue is as plain as possible. 

You may find it helpful to practise in the same spot that you will use to record your video so that it is more familiar by the time you come to give your performance. 

If you are likely to be put off by the presence of the camera, you may want to consider having something on the wall behind it to focus your attention, such as a favourite picture. 

Communication, stage presence and body language

As a performance-based exam, the examiner will assess three broad areas: communication, interpretation and delivery. We are aware that candidates with certain specific needs may not routinely demonstrate communication through body language, facial expression or eye contact in ways that are visually obvious. There may be practical factors that further affect your ability to communicate naturally such as the positioning of the piano or the camera. If this is the case, selecting the relevant access option will ensure the examiner is aware and they will then focus primarily on areas of your performance that are not affected by your specific needs, for example the sequencing and pacing of your performance. 

Visual impairment

We are aware that you may not be able to make eye contact with the camera, or that you may demonstrate commitment and engagement with the performance in ways that are not visually obvious. 

Eye contact is not something that is specifically assessed and it is possible to show engagement, conviction and communication without it. However, it may be helpful for you to be aware of exactly where the camera is located in relation to your performing space and your accompanist. 

While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, selecting this option will make the examiner aware of your visual impairment. 

Please select ’visual impairment’ when booking your exam. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Hearing impairment

We recognise that some candidates with hearing impairments may experience difficulties hearing an accompaniment if playing to a backing track and may have challenges with balance, intonation and ensemble as a result. Other candidates may experience difficulties with interference between the microphone and any electronic hearing aids. While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, selecting this option will make the examiner aware of your hearing impairment. 

Please select ’hearing impairment’ when booking your exam. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Physical difficulties

We are aware that physical difficulties may impact candidates in a number of ways as outlined below. 

While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, selecting this option will make the examiner aware of your physical disability 

Please select ‘physical difficulties’ when booking your exam. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Sitting down to play

You are welcome to perform sitting down and this will not affect the marking. You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Adaptations to your music

All candidates are welcome to alter articulation or breathing marks as part of the process of interpreting the score. 

In addition, if you have physical difficulties, you are welcome to make small adaptations to the music such as missing out notes where necessary and changing the registration or voicing of chords. 

You should aim to maintain the musical effect and the composer’s intentions as far as possible. 

You should send any proposed adaptations to us before booking your exam so that we can review them. 

We may ask to see supporting documentation, depending on the nature of the adaptations you are requesting.  

Holding/playing your instrument

You are welcome to inform us about any difficulties you have that affect the way you hold or play your instrument, including any technical challenges this poses. We welcome the use of adapted instruments that can meet the technical demands of the programme. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required. 

Tics

We are aware that the increased stress and anxiety around an exam and making a recording may affect any tics you may have. While there are no reasonable adjustments we can offer, examiners will be sensitive to this and it will not affect your mark. 

Please select ‘tics’ when booking your exam. 

You do not need to notify us and no supporting documentation is required.

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