About Performance Grades
To avoid 28-day exam deadlines falling during the Christmas holiday period, we are closing booking for all digital exams from 23.59 on 24 November to 00.00 on 5 December (UK times).
Performance Grades are digital exams. They are assessed from a video recording submitted by the candidate and are available for the following levels and subjects:
- Initial Grade: Piano and Bowed Strings only
- Grades 1 to 8: a range of instruments and singing plus Singing for Musical Theatre
- Grades 1 to 5: Jazz instruments – exams available from January 2024
The exams are equivalent in demand and value to our Practical Grades but have a different emphasis with a strong focus on performance, including communication, interpretation and delivery.
Performance Grades are available on-demand. There are no booking periods or exam sessions so you can choose when to book, record and submit the exam. You can submit your video when you book or at any time during the next 28 days.
The qualification specification, available to download on this page, includes detailed information about exam requirements, preparing for the exam, the marking criteria and results. For repertoire lists and information about choosing and performing your exam programme use the syllabus selector below.
You should also read our information about recording, uploading and submitting your exam, available on our Performance Grades guidance page.
There are 150 marks available in total. You need:
- 100 marks for a pass
- 120 marks for a merit
- 130 marks for a distinction
Each piece or song is marked out of 30 and there are 30 additional marks available for the performance as a whole.
You can find more information about marking, including the marking criteria that examiners use, in the relevant qualification specification, available to download at the top of this page.
Performance Grades provide an alternative to Practical Grades. All our exams offer a framework for motivating and recognising achievement, rather than a curriculum for teaching.
We believe that learners should develop a wide range of skills to provide a foundation for musical performance and help them to grow as musicians. These skills include those assessed through our technical, sight-reading and aural tests: technical agility, responding to notation, and hearing and understanding how music works. We will always encourage and support the development of these skills through our books, resources, apps and teacher development work.
We also know that all teachers have their own approaches and will continue to build technical, sight-reading and aural skills into their lessons in the way that best suits their students. When it comes to exams, they can now choose between one that assesses these skills individually in different sections, and one that assesses them holistically by focusing entirely on performance. Strengths in these core areas of musical skill will still be of enormous benefit and will positively affect the musical outcome in the exam.
The fourth piece can be another piece from the ABRSM syllabus or any published piece of a similar level. It should be broadly the same standard (or above) as the repertoire set for the grade being taken. There are plenty of ways to identify suitable music, from looking at exam listings past and present to the guidance publishers give on their books.
Choose music you enjoy, that matches your musical personality and that you can play confidently. Aim to choose a piece that completes the set of four in a musically satisfying way.
You can present your pieces in the order that feels best as a performance.