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Specific needs

Support for candidates with specific needs taking ABRSM exams

Welcome to the specific needs section of our website. On these pages, you'll find information on the access arrangements and reasonable adjustments we can provide, as well as advice on how to select relevant access options when you make an exam booking.  

For a guide to what happens on the day of a face-to-face exam, visit our Practical Grade guidance page where you can watch our short films on arriving at the exam venue, the exam itself, and how to prepare just before your exam. 


What we offer

We are committed to providing fair access to our exams for candidates with specific needs. Fair access is our term to cover access arrangements and reasonable adjustments. We offer a wide range of access arrangements and reasonable adjustments for each type of exam including: tests in alternative formats; alternative tests and adaptations to standard tests; additional time and the presence of a prompter or chaperone. 

If you require any advice on what options are most appropriate, please email our Specific Needs Team ahead of making your booking. 

It is important to note that we are not permitted to make allowances or concessions in the marking on account of your specific needs. All candidates are assessed equally. 

Our Specific Needs Policy

Our Specific Needs Policy explains what we offer candidates with specific needs and how you should tell us about your requirements when making an exam booking. It also explains how to send us supporting evidence, how we handle your personal and sensitive data and what to do if your needs change or you amend your exam booking. 

We review and update this policy regularly. It's therefore important that you read it time you make a booking for a candidate with specific needs. 

You can download the policy on this page.  We can also provide it in alternative formats on request. 

We have a commitment to being inclusive

Important things to remember

You must request all access arrangements and reasonable adjustments when you book your exam. It is not possible to add or change access arrangements and reasonable adjustments after you have completed your booking. If you are a teacher or parent, it is important to be aware of the candidate’s specific needs before booking their exam.  

You can only select one option. If none of the options adequately describe your specific needs, please prioritise selecting the option which relates to any additional test materials you require, such as large print or alternative tests. You should complete the exam booking and then email the Specific Needs Team immediately to explain your specific needs in full. We will then write to the examiner and make any other necessary arrangements.  

You must select the relevant specific needs option each time you make an exam booking. You must do this even if you have received access arrangements or reasonable adjustments previously.  

Please refer to our Specific Needs Policy for further information. 

Preparing for an exam

You should review the information in the relevant guidelines before making an exam booking. If you have questions or specific requirements that are not covered by these guidelines, please contact our Specific Needs Team. 

bowed strings
Making an exam booking

It is important that you select the relevant access option on the online booking form for each exam. You should do this even if you have requested access arrangements or reasonable adjustments previously. 

If none of the access options cover your specific needs or you have questions about the reasonable adjustments to which you are entitled, please contact our Specific Needs team as early as possible before the booking window closes. 

Please note that we are unable to provide reasonable adjustments or access arrangements if you tell us after the exam booking has been made or if you move your original exam booking to a different day. 

Please refer to our Specific Needs Policy for further information. 

Our fair access guidelines

Our fair access guidelines, which you can access from this page, cover face-to-face instrumental and singing exams (including Practical Grades) for a range of specific needs, as well as digital Performance Grades and Music Theory exams. 

We constantly review and update these guidelines. We recommend you bookmark this page and refer back to them every time you make a booking for a candidate with specific needs. 

Marking criteria
Supporting evidence

We require supporting evidence the first time you request access arrangements for an exam. We do not require supporting evidence for reasonable adjustments. If you are unsure whether you need to provide supporting evidence, please contact the Specific Needs Team: [email protected]

Please send your supporting documents by email to [email protected]. You will receive an auto response, but we do not respond to enquiries sent to this address.  Instead, please send any questions to [email protected].

Please refer to our Privacy Policy and Specific Needs Policy for further information. 

Contact details for our Specific Needs Team

4 London Wall Place  
EC2Y 5AU  

T +44 (0)20 7467 7342  
E [email protected] 

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