News and updates from ABRSM

September 2020

At ABRSM our purpose is to inspire musical achievement, offering exams and resources to help learners progress, whatever their musical goals.

We hope your child has been able to keep learning and playing their instrument throughout lockdown. We know adapting to online lessons has not been an easy experience for many; however, we have been heartened by stories from teachers reporting how much they have valued parental support and engagement during this time.

If your child was working towards an ABRSM exam in the first half of 2020, there is a strong likelihood it was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. We know what a significant impact this has had on learners who had worked so hard towards their exam, and we have focused on finding solutions to allow us to resume exams at the earliest possible opportunity.

As we go into the new term, we are pleased to let you know what opportunities there will be for your child, whether they wish to take the exam they have already prepared for, or are ready to work towards the next goal. Your child’s teacher will have thoughts on the right progression pathway for them, and we encourage you to discuss the options with them.

Live, face-to-face exams

We are now offering face-to-face Practical Grades again for all instruments and singing. If your child usually takes their exam in school or through the local music service, you can ask their teacher if there are plans to run exams this term. We will be running exams at our Public Venues where possible between 9 November and 19 December. All exams will be managed strictly in line with the latest government guidance.  

Performance Grades (remotely-assessed)

We are delighted to introduce these brand new assessments, which focus on performance. They offer an alternative route to the live Practical Grades, with students performing four pieces, including one free-choice piece. The exams are assessed remotely: choose your pieces/songs, practise your performance and – when you’re ready – record a video of your performance and send it to us for marking by our examiner panel. 

These exams are a permanent addition to our offer – they are equivalent in demand and value to our existing Practical Grades but with a different emphasis. We hope they will appeal to many learners. They also represent a secure option at a time when our ability to run live exams is subject to changing government guidelines.

Videos can be recorded any time from now on and submitted once an exam date has been booked. The booking period is 28 September to 5 October and exam submission dates are available between 19 October and 7 November. If you are going to be making a recording in advance, it’s important that everyone involved has read the full guidance carefully – this is available on our website.

Music Theory exams

At ABRSM, we believe in the importance of all-round musical knowledge and understanding, which is why we ask our candidates to have passed a Grade 5 Music Theory exam before they move on to the Grade 6 to 8 Practical or Performance Grade exams. We are moving the assessment of Music Theory at Grades 1 to 5 to an online exam from now on. We ran a pilot exam in August, from which we learnt a great deal. The knowledge we gained will help us to provide the best and most learner-friendly exam experience for candidates in the future.

The next Music Theory exams will take place on 10 November – these will be online exams for Grades 1 to 5 (which can be sat at home, or in a school environment), or paper-based exams held at Public Venues for Grades 6 to 8.

Find out more

We have a range of fantastic resources on our website to help you and your child prepare for their exams, from theory quizzes and sample exam papers to mobile apps and top tips for making recordings.

Find out more here:

You can also sign up to our mailing list to receive our latest news.

You and your child matter to us, and we will continue to do everything we can to support your musical journeys.


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