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Exam Fees in the UK


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#16 Splog

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 13:45

Thanks maggiemay, that's what I remember. £28.20 for grade 1 clarinet. I really don't see how the value of that exam has changed to be worth £41 in today's climate.


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#17 Aquarelle

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 15:17

Thank you Badstrad for finding those lists of fees. Most enlightening! Thank you also dorfmouse for trying to find the fees in other countries.This confirms my suspicions that we aren’t supposed to know!

 

It seems to me that there is no logical system – the fees were obviously decided years ago and the policy of simply hitching them up every year has been thoughtlessly applied ever since. We have now reached a point where prices have become ridiculous. Misterioso, I can fully understand your point about rethinking exam entry strategy.  Catey mentions not using the Prep Test any more. I knocked it off my list a several  years ago though I had to stick it back in one year when I couldn’t  otherwise muster the required 10 candidates.

 

Yes, what is the Board up to and how can they possibly justify these rises? I look at it like this. The exam system is the bread and butter of the ABRSM.  They can publish their own material, run courses etc. but in the end if it were not for the exams they couldn’t justify their existence as an exam board. They are supposed to be concerned about  musical education. They vaunt their worldwide reputation. They claim to believe that the exams can be important stepping stones along a pupil’s musical journey. In that case I suggest that they should rethink the structure of fees. The banks do it. They offer discounts etc. for young first time customers because they want to keep them for life, and they have constantly to work to keep them against competition.

 

So  I think they would do a lot better to keep the fees for the first five grades as low as possible so as to give as many children as possible the chance to benefit from being able to do an exam.  Last year I had 2 refusals on the grounds of cost and I am expecting at least three this year, maybe five. If that happens I won’t be able to make up the ten required candidates and that means that a group of four very keen Grade 4 candidates who took Grade 3 two years ago will not be able to enter. And that might mean that I won’t ever be able to enter another group  (I don’t want to get into an argument about the pros and cons of exams – I am assuming that those of us who want to use the system, either regularly or sporadically, have our own pedagogical reasons.)

 

It makes sense for the three last grades to be a little (I underline “little”) more expensive than the earlier grades, though the compulsory requirement for Grade 5 theory is an added expense. The Board obviously has to take into account the number of candidates entered, both locally and worldwide, their payment of examiners and their travelling expenses and should, though they don’t seem to, also take into account  the number of minutes allowed for each examination. They will also have to take into account what it costs for examiners to be trained. Obviously they have overheads. But  I think they are out of touch with the grass roots and that in the long run may cause them considerable losses or turn them into an elite machine unattainable for the average family. I really am a bit depressed about asking parents for 77 euros for a Grade 1 exam – let alone let alone 122 euros for Grade 4 – and one of my families has 2 sisters wanting to take this grade.


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#18 Boogaloo

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 09:24

Just reading through the posts and realised no-one has compared the prices to Trinity. I was astounded at the end of last term that Trinity fees are now even higher than AB. For comparison I have put both side by side below - Trinity followed by AB - every grade is more expensive with Trinity. Like others have mentioned, if an exam takes the same amount of time then it really should be the same cost. I don't travel abroad much so don't know the differing flight prices and hotel prices but perhaps this could be the reason for the differences in fees between one country and another? It is still mind-blowingly extortionate though.

 

Trinity/AB

Initial/Prep 40/37

Grade 1 45/41

Grade 2 50/47

Grade 3 55/54

Grade 4 63/60

Grade 5 70/65

Grade 6 78/75

Grade 7 87/80

Grade 8 98/95


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#19 Sylvette

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 13:19

LCM fees are very similar.


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#20 HelenVJ

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 14:28

They are all very similar - well, in the UK, anyway. And, like the rail fares, they increase every year Just Because. Everyone moans, but really we just have to get on with it.  It's interesting to see the huge disparity, both in Europe and in the Far East-  obviously big business in the latter.

I suppose I'm lucky not to have  had any problems with parents quibbling about the fee. It used to be roughly the price of 2 lessons, and this is still more or less the case, as my beginners get 30 minutes and everyone else has 45 mins or an hour. It's not even an annual expense, as we leave a gap of at least 18 months - 2 years, and don't take every grade. Also pianists  don't have the additional expense of an accompanists fee, which can be upward of £50.


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#21 Misterioso

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 16:27

They are all very similar - well, in the UK, anyway. And, like the rail fares, they increase every year Just Because. Everyone moans, but really we just have to get on with it.  

 

I would be quite happy to "get on with it" it their rise wasn't far more than mine has been in the last 6 years.mad.gif


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#22 Aquarelle

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 16:54

And unfortunately some families simply can't just "get on with it." As far  as comparing lesson prices with exam fees is concerned my pupils pay 22 euros per hour. Some  do 45 minutes, some do 30 minutes, pro rata. So for a Grade 1 pupil doing 30 minutes per week the cost of the exam here is the same as the cost

of a 7 week term. For a ten minute exam , even allowing for AB overheads, that, in the eyes of the parents, is just exorbitant. 


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#23 HelenVJ

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 17:48

I don't disagree with you, Aquarelle. But this question gets raised every year, and it's clear that the board have no intention of ever bringing fees down for Eurpoean entries, whatever the logical justification. The recent fare increase in the rail companies was also way above the average wage increase. The rail companies, like the exam boards, can do what they like, and commuters have relatively little choice about travelling to work.  So I'm not really sure what anyone's hoping to achieve here.


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#24 Aquarelle

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 18:09

Helen VJ, I'm not quite sure when you say European fees whether you mean to include the UK or not. I think it's clear that the UK teachers who have posted here are  also  concerned about fee increases. You are  certainly  right about the AB having no intention of decreasing of even simply not increasing fees. However I don't think it does any harm to let of steam about it here or to exchange opinions. It certainly clarifies the situation and helps prevent the drawing of wrong conclusions about prices in various parts of the world. I think as customers we are entitled to know if we are getting a fair deal in relation to other customers - and if people consider we are getting value for money. 

 

As I said above, when I wrote to the Board  some time ago to put the question about fees rising so sharply I got a nonsense reply.  I expect if i wrote again now I would get the same sort of reply or just a declaration on the lines of "It is/isn't  our policy ...." So there isn't really anywhere else to air the problem. Unless anyone here can think of something. And you never know - if enough people are persistent enough for long enough  they might one day notice us!


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#25 Hildegard

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 18:16


Edit:  Grade 1 in France  is 77  euros which  at today's rate of exchange  is £68.93 against £41 for a UK candidate. I do not think the difference of  £27.93 is justifiable.

 

I don't particularly want to defend the ABRSM because I think their fees for everyone are high, but don't examiners in France have to stay in hotels as well as having greater travel expenses? It's a long time since we've had an examiner staying in a hotel in southern England - they almost all come on day trips these days. I guess the AB also has to pay travel insurance for examiners abroad, and their accounts show that they pay into hedge funds to hedge against unexpected currency fluctuations.

 

I have heard from more than one examiner that they spend huge amounts these days on checking, retraining and replacing examiners, apparently terrified of results being a couple of marks out and not realising that will always happen in a subject such as music where, however many marking criteria you have, there will always be an element of personal opinion. But that expense, of course, should impact on UK and overseas fees equally.


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#26 Aquarelle

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 20:48

Hildegarde, yes they do stay in hotels, but until very recently hotels have been relatively cheap in France. Yes, of course they have travel expenses but these are not necessarily that high. I don't know where you are based but there are certainly places in the UK where a tour of  more than one day and an overnight stop would be necessary.  I can't imagine that they have enough examiners everywhere to just go and do one day and then go home.Our representative's companion drives most of the tour in France and although I assume there is a refund for mileage, it isn't going to be quite the same as train or plane fares.I have provided lunch for the examiner (and very often an accompanying partner) on several occasions. I don't mind that but I do mind my pupils being what I consider to be overcharged for the service they are getting I mean examiners don't even have to think up what to write these days - they can just use the word bank. I used to consider we got good value for money but I am much less convinced nowadays.

 

I am quite willing to accept the fact that fees for mainland Europe should be a little higher  than in the UK.  What I am complaining about is the inexorable  and often quite large yearly rise which is not justified and the discrepancies between countries  often on the same tour (ie France and Germany). The rises over the past ten years have been much too high. 

 

You make an interesting point about the checking and retraining of examiners. I wouldn't mind betting that a great deal of that is  an unnecessary waste of resources.


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#27 Misterioso

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 10:55

The recent fare increase in the rail companies was also way above the average wage increase. The rail companies, like the exam boards, can do what they like, and commuters have relatively little choice about travelling to work.  So I'm not really sure what anyone's hoping to achieve here.

 

I'm not sure that it's about "achieving" anything. For most people, going to work isn't a choice, but for most people, taking an exam is a choice. If AB consistently raise fees above the average wage increase, there will be fewer entries, and ultimately they are likely to price themselves out of the market.  


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#28 ma non troppo

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 11:08

If enough people complain or the number of entries decline because of prices then they would have to listen.

As a nation we (the British) are poor at protesting or complaining and just tend to accept things and yes, "get on with it" . That's what allows this kind of price increase to happen.
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#29 mel2

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 13:09

The (UK) fees don't appear to be a deterrent to those contemplating doing the Grade 1 challenge for charity. Unless of course, the Associated Board is the designated charity....
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#30 Misterioso

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 13:45

The (UK) fees don't appear to be a deterrent to those contemplating doing the Grade 1 challenge for charity. Unless of course, the Associated Board is the designated charity....

 

I was contemplating doing it. The price rise is one of the reasons I will not now be doing it.


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