# The Nature Of A Distintion

### #16

Posted 28 May 2010 - 08:07

### #17 Guest: Mad Tom_*

Posted 28 May 2010 - 08:43

Goodness, Solari - that

*is*impressive! Can't even begin to imagine how you did that.

Looking at those charts, what I find interesting is the significant drop-off with each grade of the total number taking the exam.

To cut to the chase, to a useful approximation, about 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 entrants earns a distinction at all grades.

In the UK, ten times as many enter for grade 1 as for grade 8. The fall off is quite gentle from grades 1 to 5, but there is a sudden and very steep drop in entrants between grades 5 and 6. [grade 6 entry is only 40% of the grade 5 entry].

In the rest of the world there is no obvious or consistent fall off in entry from grade 1 up to grade 8, and the percentage of distinctions at the higher grades is (much) lower than in the UK

### #18

Posted 28 May 2010 - 08:48

In the UK, ten times as many enter for grade 1 as for grade 8. The fall off is quite gentle from grades 1 to 5, but there is a sudden and very steep drop in entrants between grades 5 and 6. [grade 6 entry is only 40% of the grade 5 entry].

I guess that one possible reason for the drop in entrants between grades 5 and 6 might be that you need grade 5 theory for grade 6 and above? I have a colleague of mine who stopped at grade 5 for that reason, together with the fact that he had just scrapped a pass.

### #19

Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:18

Those graphs are interesting though.... Isn't it weird how all the grades have a very similar pass:fail:distinction:merit pattern??? Or is that just random coincidence?

I too have always found this a bit odd along with the fact there is little varience between years. YOu might expect an higher number of distinctions one year and a higher number of passes another. Seems very odd ot me but I'm not really a stats nerd.

### #20

Posted 28 May 2010 - 15:33

Those graphs are interesting though.... Isn't it weird how all the grades have a very similar pass:fail:distinction:merit pattern??? Or is that just random coincidence?

I too have always found this a bit odd along with the fact there is little varience between years. YOu might expect an higher number of distinctions one year and a higher number of passes another. Seems very odd ot me but I'm not really a stats nerd.

I suppose the consistency implies that the standards required are maintained over time, and obviously the bigger the sample size the more consistent the results are. The results for Grade 6-8 theory vary a lot more, probably because the numbers are much smaller. There is going to be a lot more variance in results if you have 200 people taking the exam rather than 2000 or 20,000.

I would be more concerned if the numbers were erratic, or if the number of passes or fails was steadily increasing or decreasing every year. Actually, looking more closely at the graphs it would seem the number of passes seems to be slowly decreasing in favour of an increase in merits, but the proportion of distinctions and fails seems to remain pretty much constant. This would seem to indicate that the highest standards are consistent, even if there is some variation in the pass/merit line (which in practice is a lot fuzzier than the distinction or fail boundaries).

### #21

Posted 28 May 2010 - 15:50

Those graphs are interesting though.... Isn't it weird how all the grades have a very similar pass:fail:distinction:merit pattern??? Or is that just random coincidence?

I too have always found this a bit odd along with the fact there is little varience between years. YOu might expect an higher number of distinctions one year and a higher number of passes another. Seems very odd ot me but I'm not really a stats nerd.

I'm a big stats nerd. It's down to two things, primarily: (1) the marking criteria are (probably) consistently applied (and they don't "fit" the results to the normal distribution curve), and (2) there is a large population of people who take the exams every year.

I must admit, I was amazed at the number of exams taken each year. For example, there are c. 2500 Grade 8 distinctions each year. Just shows you why it's so difficult to get into the conservatories and top university programmes...

### #22

Posted 28 May 2010 - 16:03

Those graphs are interesting though.... Isn't it weird how all the grades have a very similar pass:fail:distinction:merit pattern??? Or is that just random coincidence?

I looked at these results a while ago and created my own set of tables for the UK results.

For what it's worth, the percentage rates for the years 2001-2009 combined are:

Gr. Pass Merit Distinction Fail

1 44.64% 36.84% 16.43% 2.09%

2 52.27% 32.42% 11.68% 3.63%

3 52.27% 32.34% 11.45% 3.94%

4 52.88% 31.22% 11.14% 4.75%

5 52.06% 29.59% 11.56% 6.78%

6 46.82% 31.58% 14.51% 7.09%

7 42.89% 31.84% 18.15% 7.12%

8 34.58% 30.05% 26.40% 8.98%

(Hmm that doesn't format very well does it?).

Which I think shows a remarkably static Merit rate, a gradually rising failure rate with grade (as I think would be expected). Indeed all the figures are strikingly similar from Gr 2 to Gr 5.

More interesting I thought was the static Distinction rate from Gr 2 up to Gr 5 then a steady rise from 6 to 8. I think that demonstrates that only the most serious students go beyond Gr 5 all the way to Gr 8. Makes sense given that over this 10 year period there were 82,569 entries at Gr 8 (3.3% of the total entries) compared with 659,663 at Gr 1 (26.7% of the total).

### #23

Posted 28 May 2010 - 17:59

(edited for percentage)

The fail rate for diplomas is much higher, and the percentage of distinctions is tiny.

### #25

Posted 28 May 2010 - 18:59

My graphs aren't as pretty as Solari's, but the information is displayed in the same way. We're only missing Grades 4 and 5 now... I do have the figures for Grade 6-8 theory if anyone wants pretty graphs of that, someone else can do theory 1-5!

### #26 Guest: Mad Tom_*

Posted 28 May 2010 - 22:10

I must admit, I was amazed at the number of exams taken each year. For example, there are c. 2500 Grade 8 distinctions each year. Just shows you why it's so difficult to get into the conservatories and top university programmes...

But the vast majority of those Grade 8 distinctions are for piano. For other instruments the numbers are quite small.

So what it explains is why it is so much harder to get into a conservatoire to study piano than any other instrument.

Just drew up the charts for diplomas:

<snip snip>

The fail rate for diplomas is much higher, and the percentage of distinctions is tiny.

Note that the diploma count includes all three levels. So 1,000 or fewer attempts each year at DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM combined, of which round about a half manage to pass.

I'd like to see the figures for each class of diploma, by instrument!

### #27

Posted 28 May 2010 - 23:50

Just drew up the charts for diplomas:

<snip snip>

The fail rate for diplomas is much higher, and the percentage of distinctions is tiny.

Note that the diploma count includes all three levels. So 1,000 or fewer attempts each year at DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM combined, of which round about a half manage to pass.

I'd like to see the figures for each class of diploma, by instrument!

So would I. The Annual Review for 2008 lists all the people who got a diploma for the whole world, by level and country. In the UK there were 491 DipABRSMs, 66 LRSMs and 6 FRSMs. FRSM doesn't have distinction, so the 98 distinctions are divided between Dip and L. It's pretty difficult to do any decent analysis with the combined figure, that's the most info I can squeeze out of what's online.

### #28

Posted 30 May 2010 - 13:31

Goodness, Solari - that

*is*impressive! Can't even begin to imagine how you did that.

Looking at those charts, what I find interesting is the significant drop-off with each grade of the total number taking the exam.

Yes very interesting. Any chance of a chart for Europe Solari?

### #30

Posted 30 May 2010 - 13:49

Those graphs are interesting though.... Isn't it weird how all the grades have a very similar pass:fail:distinction:merit pattern??? Or is that just random coincidence?

I looked at these results a while ago and created my own set of tables for the UK results.

For what it's worth, the percentage rates for the years 2001-2009 combined are:

Gr. Pass Merit Distinction Fail

1 44.64% 36.84% 16.43% 2.09%

2 52.27% 32.42% 11.68% 3.63%

3 52.27% 32.34% 11.45% 3.94%

4 52.88% 31.22% 11.14% 4.75%

5 52.06% 29.59% 11.56% 6.78%

6 46.82% 31.58% 14.51% 7.09%

7 42.89% 31.84% 18.15% 7.12%

8 34.58% 30.05% 26.40% 8.98%

(Hmm that doesn't format very well does it?).

Which I think shows a remarkably static Merit rate, a gradually rising failure rate with grade (as I think would be expected). Indeed all the figures are strikingly similar from Gr 2 to Gr 5.

More interesting I thought was the static Distinction rate from Gr 2 up to Gr 5 then a steady rise from 6 to 8. I think that demonstrates that only the most serious students go beyond Gr 5 all the way to Gr 8. Makes sense given that over this 10 year period there were 82,569 entries at Gr 8 (3.3% of the total entries) compared with 659,663 at Gr 1 (26.7% of the total).

These figures also back up something I wrote in these forums ages ago (but got shot down in flames) which is that it is harder to fail grade 1 than any other grade.