Skip to main content

Exam regulations

Introducing our exam regulations

These regulations contain the terms and conditions for our music exams. They apply to all ABRSM exams and assessments apart from Music Medals.  

 

sfmt

These exam regulations apply to exam bookings from 27 July 2020 onwards. 

Regulation 27 applies to DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM diplomas, and further regulations appear in the syllabus for these exams. 

Legally binding contract

When you make an exam booking, you  enter into a legally binding contract with us, upon the terms and conditions set out in these regulations. 

Changes to the regulations 

We have revised these Exam Regulations to reflect changes relating to our online booking service, the introduction of Performance Grades (available on demand from 25 August 2022) and the introduction of our online Music Theory exams (available on demand from 2 August 2021). 

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 on this page. 

How to contact us

If you think there is a mistake in these regulations or if anything is unclear, please contact us using the link below.

Regulations
Exam subjects

a. Exam subjects are listed on our syllabus page. 

b. Practical Grades and Performance Grades are available from Initial Grade (selected instruments only) to Grade 8. 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. Our Music Performance ARSM (Associate of the Royal Schools of Music) is a post-Grade 8 performance-only exam. In addition we offer Ensemble and Choral Singing exams at three levels and Performance Assessment. 

Regulated qualifications

a. The list below shows the regulated qualification numbers and titles for Practical Grades, Performance Grades, Music Theory and ARSM*. Further information can be found at https://register.ofqual.gov.uk. Information is also available on our Regulation and UCAS points page

Practical Grades 

603/6405/1 - ABRSM Entry Level Award in Practical Music (Initial Grade)(Entry 3) 

603/6406/3 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 1) 

603/6407/5 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 2) 

603/6408/7 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Practical Music (Grade 3) 

603/6409/9 - ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 4) 

603/6410/5 - ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 5) 

603/6411/7 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 6) 

603/6412/9 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 7) 

603/6413/0 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Practical Music (Grade 8) 

Performance Grades 

610/0064/1 - ABRSM Entry Level Award in Music Performance (Initial Grade) (Entry 3) 

603/5993/6 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 1) 

603/5994/8 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 2) 

603/5995/X - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Performance (Grade 3) 

603/5996/1 - ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 4) 

603/5997/3 - ABRSM Level 2 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 5) 

603/5998/5 - ABSRM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 6) 

603/5999/7 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 7) 

603/6000/8 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Performance (Grade 8) 

603/0677/4 - ABRSM Level 4 Diploma in Music Performance (ARSM) 

Music Theory  

603/6414/2 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 1) 

603/6415/4 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 2) 

603/6416/6 - ABRSM Level 1 Award in Music Theory (Grade 3) 

603/6417/8 - ABRSM Level 2 Award in Music Theory (Grade 4) 

603/6418/X - ABRSM Level 2 Award in Music Theory (Grade 5) 

603/6419/1 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Theory (Grade 6) 

603/6420/8 - ABRSM Level 3 Certificate in Music Theory (Grade 7) 

603/6422/1 - 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, we use Practical Grade, Performance Grade, Music Theory and ARSM in place of the full qualification titles throughout the remainder of these exam regulations. The term ‘instrumental and singing exam(s)’ refers to all qualifications except Music Theory. 

Prerequisites

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 instrumental and singing 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 instrumental and singing exams at Grades 6–8 must already have passed one of the qualifications listed in the relevant syllabus before the closing date of entry for the exam. You can also find this information, with a list of accepted alternatives, on the following web pages: About Practical Grades and About Performance Grades. ARSM candidates must already have passed ABRSM Grade 8, or an accepted alternative, in the instrument being presented. 

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 if the ABRSM qualification(s) were gained before 01 January 1994 (supporting documents will only be needed if we are unable to verify the qualification from our records). 
  • For ARSM bookings, copies of certificates are not required at the time of entry, although we may ask for a copy of the certificate later on (if a copy of the certificate is not provided, we will cancel the exam booking without any refund of the fees paid or payable). 
Introduction and overlap of syllabuses

a. We update our syllabuses from time to time. See Syllabuses (below) for updates.  

b. In the first year of any revised instrumental and singing 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 provided on our Syllabuses page (see below).

Applicant’s role and responsibilities

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, allowing them to set up an account. Providing email addresses is compulsory for Performance Grades and online Music Theory. With an account, candidates (and their parents/carers) can go online to view exam information, change appointments (where possible) and access their results and exam mark forms. The candidate will receive emails about their appointments and results after the applicant. Candidates and 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, ARSM or Music Theory exams by digital assessment, it is the responsibility of the Applicant to inform the parent/carer 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/carer before making an exam booking. 

Exam booking

a. Bookings for all face-to-face exams, as well as Music Theory Grades 6-8, must be made by the applicant during the published booking period using the online booking service. Performance Grades and Music Theory (Grades 1-5) exams can be booked on any day throughout the year. Performance Grade candidates will then be able to upload their recorded exam, via their dashboard, any time in the following 28 days. Music Theory (Grades 1-5) candidates will then be able to launch the exam 3 hours after the booking has been made, via their dashboard, and have 28 days in which to take the exam. Where online booking is not available (DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM, and Choral Singing and Ensembles only), entries must be made by via the processes outlined on How to book pages.

b. We may refuse, invalidate or cancel any booking. In these cases, we will refund the exam fee(s) (see 3d for ARSM exception). 

c. Although we would discourage candidates from taking two instrumental and singing 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 cannot attempt the same digital Music Theory grade more than three times within the same calendar year. Candidates can only be entered for one paper-based Music Theory (Grades 6 to 8) 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. 

Payment

a. Exam fees must be paid in full at the time of booking.  

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. 

Withdrawals, non-attendance and fee refunds

a. Cancellations and withdrawals can be made by applicants in accordance with the Withdrawals, Non-attendance and Fee Refund Policy. 

Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments (for candidates with specific needs)

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. You can find more information on our specific needs page

Where a candidate has specific needs that are not covered by our guidelines, we consider each case individually. Further information is available from the Specific Needs team ([email protected]) or from our specific needs page.

Entering for the exam 

b. The applicant should select the relevant access option at the time of booking. Where further arrangements are required, the applicant should contact the Specific Needs team at [email protected] with further information before booking an exam. 

Supporting evidence 

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 in the Specific Needs Policy at our specific needs page.

Failing to submit supporting evidence for reasonable adjustments may be considered maladministration under our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy

Personal data 

d. ABRSM recognises that candidates who require access arrangements or reasonable adjustments may be giving personal and sensitive information when booking an exam, and that some information may need to be passed to stewards or invigilators, where necessary, for the running of the exam. We are committed to handling this information tactfully and securely. You can find our Privacy Policy on our Policies page. Applicants are responsible for getting appropriate consent to share information about a candidate’s specific needs with us. 

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. 

Exam dates for instrumental and singing exams

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. 

Venue for digital exams: where the applicant is booking an exam (or exams) which can be video recorded and submitted to ABRSM for assessment (Performance Grades and Performance ARSM only). These take place on demand throughout the year. 

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. 

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. It is the responsibility of the applicant/candidate/parent/carer to notify all concerned parties of any changes to exam appointments. 

Private Visits 

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.  

Music Theory exam dates

a. Exam dates are dependent on the grade of the exam being taken: 

Online Music Theory (Grades 1 to 5) – These exams can be booked at any time. Candidates then have 28 days to take the exam online. 

Paper-based Music Theory (Grades 6 to 8) – These exams happen at Public Venues and Private Visits (see below). 

Appointments for paper-based Music Theory (Grades 6 to 8) 

b Paper-based Music Theory exams are held at set times and on set dates. 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. 

c. Candidates for paper-based Music Theory exams should only be entered for an exam session where the set date and time are suitable for them. 

d. 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. 

Public Venues

a. We provide Public Venues for face-to-face instrumental and singing exams (including Practical Grades) and paper-based 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 face-to-face instrumental and singing exams (including Practical 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 chair/stool (e.g. for cellists and guitarists); 
  • 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 paper-based 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. 

Private Visits

a. Instrumental and singing exams (including Practical Grades) and/or paper-based 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. Full details of the requirements for a Private Visit venue, along with the Terms and Conditions for Visit Organisers, can be found on our Private Visits page.

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.

Private Visits for instrumental and singing exams (including Practical Grades) 

d. Booking options are outlined on our Private Visits page and cater either for: 

  • applicants with sufficiently large numbers of candidates; 
  • candidates whose subjects cannot be taken at a Public Venue (Harpsichord, Organ, Percussion, Choral Singing and Jazz Ensembles). 

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 on our Private Visits page.

h. Where a Private Visit is only for a Choral Singing exam, we charge an examiner attendance fee. 

Private Visits for Music Theory exams 

i. Paper-based Music Theory exams may be held at a registered educational institution, music service or education department at a prison/hospital. 

Digital exams (instruments and singing)

a. Digital exams (available for Performance Grades and ARSM) can be taken at a venue chosen by the candidate/applicant. 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). 

Candidate identification

a. Candidates taking 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 (photo ID) in accordance with our Candidate Identification Policy. These exams are: 

  • Music Theory: All (Grades 1 to 8) 
  • Practical Grades: Grades 5 (Jazz only), 6, 7 and 8 
  • Performance Grades: Grades 6, 7 and 8 
  • Practical Musicianship: Grades 5 and 8 
Instrumental and singing exams

Exam timings 

a. The timings of instrumental and singing exams are given in the relevant syllabus. 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. 

Candidate ID 

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 (photo ID).  For details, see our Candidate Identification Policy.

Face-to-face exams 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. 

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, 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. See our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy for details. 

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, except when being used for this purpose, and should never be used to record any part of the exam. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that all recording capabilities on their device are disabled at all times during the exam. The candidate may be disqualified if these rules are broken. Further information is available in our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

i. Sheet music obtained via digital download may be read from an electronic device in the exam. Devices must be switched off, except when being used for this purpose, and should never be used to record any part of the exam. It is the user’s (candidate or accompanist) responsibility to ensure that all recording capabilities on their device are disabled at all times during the exam. The candidate may be disqualified if these rules are broken. See our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy for details.

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. 

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 (either in the room or via video-link) for training or quality assurance purposes. If a second examiner is present via video-link then this is live-streamed and not recorded. 
  • 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. 
  • Interpreters (including BSL): Candidates who intend to bring an interpreter (including BSL interpreters) 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. 

Digital exams (Performance Grades and Music Performance ARSM) 

m. The repertoire must be performed and recorded in one continuous take and the recording must not be paused at any point during that take. 

n. A recording can only be submitted as evidence for any qualification once. It cannot be re-used for the same or a different qualification at any point in time. If a previously submitted video is uploaded as evidence a second time, this will be discounted and the candidate disqualified from that second assessment. 

o. Candidates should show a written programme form 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. 

p. 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/carer. 

q. 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/carer. 

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. 

r. 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. 

s. Recordings will be kept by ABRSM for 130 days after being submitted, and then will be destroyed automatically. 

t. 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. 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, the candidate may be disqualified and may also be in breach of copyright in the performed work. Further information is available in our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

Exam music and performance requirements 

u. All instrumental and singing 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. 

v. 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. 

w. 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). 

x. 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. For digital exams, examiners may stop listening to the recording if the performance goes over the maximum programme time specified in the syllabus. 

y. Although we would discourage candidates from performing the same repertoire (in full or individual pieces/songs) for more than one qualification, e.g. a Performance Grade and a Practical Grade exam at the same grade, this is not forbidden. 

z. 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 receive a warning, have marks deducted or, in some cases, be disqualified. 

aa. 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). 

bb. 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. 

cc. In face-to-face exams, 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 the opening of their own-choice piece(s) to the camera at the start of the exam. 

Copyright 

dd. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that candidates follow the law of the country where the exam is being held with regard to copyright, e.g. for the making and use of photocopies (or other kinds of copies), the use of downloads and the making of arrangements of copyright works. 

ee. In the UK, the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 does not allow the making or use of photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright works. However, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the Music Publishers’ Association’s Code of Fair Practice  at www.mpaonline.org.uk

ff. 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 digital exam, we may ask to see evidence of such permission before releasing results. 

gg. We may withhold the exam result of any candidate if we have evidence of a breach of copyright in their exam. 

Music Theory exams

Candidate ID 

a. Candidates taking both online and paper-based Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 8) are required to provide a form of photographic identification documentation (photo ID). See our Candidate ID Policy for more information.

Grade 1 to 5 online Music Theory exams 

Grade 1 to 5 Music Theory exams are only available online unless a candidate requires a paper-based exam for Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments, for which we require supporting documentation. 

Exam timings 

b. Timings for online Music Theory exams are: 

  • Grades 1 to 3: 1½ hours 
  • Grades 4 to 5: 2 hours 

c. Where English is not a candidate's first language, the applicant can request on the online service for a translated exam in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish or Italian. However, if a candidate is taking an exam in the UK and Ireland they will only be able to take the exam in English. Translation requests must be made at the time of booking. Candidates who have requested a translation will be provided an exam in that language. It is not possible to change this in the exam. 

Applicant obligations 

d. At the time of booking, applicants must enter an email address for the candidate (parent/carer). This is compulsory. We use the email address to send exam details and invite candidates to create an ABRSM account. All candidates must have an account to access the link to take their online Music Theory exam. 

e. Before the exam, applicants must read the information on our Music Theory guidance page.

f. Applicants must also encourage candidates or their responsible adult to check the information on our Music Theory guidance page.

Equipment and exam security 

g. To complete the exam candidates will require a laptop/desktop with a webcam facility. You can find full technical requirements on our Music Theory guidance page.

h. 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 under 18 or vulnerable adults to be filmed. 

i. 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. 

j. Candidates should refer to our Music Theory guidance page, including the Proctoring Policy PDF, 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. Candidates displaying suspicious activity will be reported to ABRSM, who will review the video of the assessment and take appropriate action in line with our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

k. 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. 

Place of exam 

l. Candidates are able to take the exam at any suitable venue as outlined in our requirements on our Music Theory Guidance page.

m. Candidates are able to sit at venues hosting multiple candidates. For these venues, a Responsible Adult is required. Room suitability, technical requirements and further guidance can be found on our Music Theory Guidelines page.

n. Official educational institutions, music services/hubs and educational departments at prisons/hospitals are able to host and run exams with an invigilator, provided by them, without the need for their candidates to be proctored. An ‘Approval Application Form’ must be completed and sent, along with any other supporting documentation to [email protected] for approval. The form can be found on our Music Theory guidance page. Registered Visit Organisers for Music Theory exams can email [email protected] requesting permission to run un-proctored exams and are not required to submit an approval form. Once an applicant is approved: 

  • We will provide the educational institution/applicant with an ‘invigilation key’. This should be provided to the invigilator but never shared with candidates taking the exam. 
  • Candidates launch the exam via their ABRSM account as usual but will not be asked to download the RPNow proctoring software. 
  • Candidates will be directed to a page asking them to enter an ‘invigilation key’. The invigilator will need to enter this for them. The candidate can then take their exam. 

Grade 6 to 8 online Music Theory exams 

Grade 6 to 8 Music Theory exams are paper-based exams and are not available online. They can be taken at Public Venues or Private Visits. 

Exam timings 

o. Timings for Music Theory exams are: 

  • Grades 6 to 8: 3 hours 

Translations 

p. Music Theory exams in the UK and Ireland are only provided in English. For exams outside of the UK and Ireland, we aim to make local language translations of exams scripts available for Music Theory exam candidates, but withhold the right not to offer these in instances where it is not financially feasible. Where an English or local language script is not suitable, candidate can request to bring a bilingual paper dictionary and receive 15 minutes extra time. 

Arriving at the venue 

q. Candidates should arrive 10 minutes before the start of the exam, unless told otherwise. 

r. Any candidate arriving more than 35 minutes after the start of the exam will not be admitted. 

s. 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. 

Candidate ID 

t. Candidates taking both digital and paper-based Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 8) are required to provide a form of photographic identification documentation (photo ID) see our Candidate identification Policy for details. 

In the exam 

u. Candidates must bring their own pens or pencils. 

v. Plain ruled manuscript and blank paper is supplied for candidates to do any rough working. 

w. 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. 

x. Candidates must not talk, or in any way communicate, with each other during the exam. 

y. Any candidate breaking these rules may be disqualified. See our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy for more information. 

The people present 

z. Invigilators are present for the whole exam. 

Conduct of the exam 

aa. The invigilators open the sealed packets of question papers in the exam room in front of the candidates. 

bb. The time allowed is printed at the top of each question paper. 

cc. 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; 
  • 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 on our Policies page)
  • write their answers clearly and legibly, or marks may be lost. 

dd. 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. 

ee. 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. 

ff. 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. 

gg. As each question paper is handed in, the invigilators will check that the candidate’s full name appears clearly at the top. 

hh. Candidates must not take any question papers or rough notes from the room. 

After the exam 

ii. The invigilators seal the question papers in secure envelopes and send them to us in line with given instructions. 

jj. We do not accept responsibility for question papers lost in the post. In these cases, the exam fee is refunded. 

Results and certificates

Marking criteria 

a. You can find exam marking criteria in the relevant syllabus. 

Issuing results online (instrumental and singing 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 results and certificates page (see link below).

e. 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. 

f. The result of a past exam may be confirmed in writing to a concerned party (e.g. an applicant, candidate or parent). For details visit our Results and certificates page linked below.

g. Results are only issued in line with the procedures described above; we will not give exam results by telephone or email. 

Mark forms 

h. Marks are not awarded for the Prep Test or Performance Assessment. The examiner writes helpful comments on the certificate and hands this to the candidate at the end of the assessment. 

i. A digital mark form is issued to each Practical Grade, Performance Grade, Music Performance ARSM and online Music Theory 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. 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). 

j. A paper mark form is issued to each paper-based 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. 

Certificates 

k. 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. 

l. Certificates do not certify that the holders are qualified to teach. 

m. We can supply duplicate certificates on request. Find out more on our results and certificates page (see link below).

Entry to higher education 

n. 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. 

o. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) includes Grades 6 to 8 in the points tariff for UK university and college entrance. At the discretion of individual institutions, candidates may benefit from the allocation of UCAS points (ucas.com). Results for candidates at these grades are passed on to UCAS to allow them to verify UCAS applications.  

p. 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 

q. The UK government requires ABRSM exam data for all candidates between the ages of 11 and 18. We therefore pass results for candidates between these ages, as well as their name, age and gender (if given), to the Department for Education (DfE) and to Llywodraeth Cymru (Welsh Government) in order to match details held on the National Pupil Database. For further details, see our Privacy Policy.

Special consideration

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 the link below.

Exam feedback

Appeals 

a. If a candidate has received an unexpected exam result, this can be appealed by requesting a Results Review. This process allows us to revisit the marks awarded by an examiner and, subject to the outcome of review, may result in a mark amendment. 

Feedback 

b. In addition to a Results Review, we also welcome feedback about other matters, such as the overall exam experience or the mark form. All feedback is logged and plays a valuable part in our commitment to continuous improvement and quality assurance procedures. 

For further information on our processes and deadlines for appealing a result, or submitting feedback, see our appeals and feedback page (link below).

Malpractice and maladministration

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 act 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. Our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy is available at the link below.

Safeguarding

a. We acknowledge that we have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of all candidates 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 Policy, Procedures and Code of Practice, originally produced in consultation with NSPCC, is available at the link below. The policy includes a Code of Practice for all who work on behalf of the organisation. We are committed to reviewing our Safeguarding Policy and Code of Practice at regular intervals and may change the content from time to time. 

c. Any concerns about a candidate’s welfare and/or safety must be reported immediately to our Designated Safeguarding Person at [email protected]

Equal opportunities

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, carer, teacher, examiner, representative, invigilator or steward. 

Data protection

a. We will process personal data about individuals (including applicants, candidates and others) in line with data protection legislation and as set out in our Privacy Policy, available at the link below. We may amend this policy from time to time. 

b. We are registered as a data controller with the UK information Commissioner’s Office under registration number Z6618494. 

Other important information

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. 

Appendix: Definitions

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/carer of a candidate or the candidate, if they are 18 or over). 

ARSM: Associate of the Royal Schools of Music (ARSM). 

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, they 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. 

Digital exam: An exam assessed by a video recording submitted to ABRSM instead of in a face-to-face setting at a Public Venue or Private Visit. Candidate/applicants can choose their venue. 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. Digital exams are available for Performance Grades and ARSM only. 

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 on the dates and fees section.

Exam subject: The subject (instrument, voice or Music Theory) in which the candidate is examined using the relevant syllabus. 

Face-to-face exams: An instrumental or singing exam that takes place at a Public Venue or Private visit. 

Instrumental and singing exam: An exam where a candidate is assessed playing an instrument or singing. 

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: An 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 Grade: An exam where the candidate is assessed playing an instrument or singing, and on supporting tests. 

Practical Musicianship: A type of Practical Grade 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 to 8 and ARSM. 

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. 

Responsible adult: An individual who oversees a digital exam recording process. The Responsible Adult must be aged 18 or over, and may be the applicant, teacher or parent/carer. 

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/carers and candidates. 

Syllabus: The document which explains the requirements of an ABRSM exam and gives further information. 

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. 

Exceptional regulations for Diploma exams Jan-Aug 2022

Candidate obligations 

Enter exams in line with the guidance provided in the COVID-19 – Instructions for Completing Diploma Exams in 2022 and the ABRSM syllabus, including but not limited to: 

  • Submitting all entries, supporting materials and payments electronically for exams in the UK, or to local Representatives (for exams outside of the UK). 
  • 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 COVID-19 – Instructions for Completing Diploma Exams in 2022, including but not limited to: 

  • 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. 
  • 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 the link below.

28 Exceptional regulations for facilitated Practical Grade exams in Malaysia 

Exams will be audio and visually recorded by a trained ABRSM exam facilitator, using recording equipment supplied by ABRSM. The recording of the exam is made for the sole purpose of ABRSM’s assessment and quality assurance procedures and it will not be shared or used for any other purpose. 

Applicant responsibilities 

Enter exams in line with the guidance provided in the ‘Instructions for Completing Facilitated Practical Grade Exams’. This includes, but is not limited to; 

  • Applicants are responsible for informing candidates’ parents or carers that the exam(s) will be recorded, before making an entry. In making an entry, applicants confirm that consent for this has been obtained. 

Don’t miss out!

Join our community today. Subscribe to our mailing list and be the first to receive updates on all the latest news from ABRSM

Cello with colourway