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What is ARSM?

ARSM (Associate of the Royal Schools of Music) is a performance-only diploma. It's an opportunity for your students to demonstrate performance skills after Grade 8.

Candidates perform a 30-minute programme where they are assessed on their musical communication skills, interpretation and technical delivery. There are no written or spoken elements and no scales, sight-reading or aural tests, making it a very accessible exam.

Exams are available worldwide with a new remote-assessment option available from October 2020 (initially in the UK and Ireland). 

An introduction to ARSM

Repertoire lists and further information about ARSM

Programming requirements

Please note that:

  • The programme should include at least 20 minutes of music chosen from the ARSM repertoire lists below
  • The remaining time (up to 10 minutes) can be filled with own-choice repertoire that is at, or above, ABRSM Grade 8 standard (see guidance for own-choice repertoire)






PianistThis meaningful goal provides the opportunity to your students to demonstrate their performance skills and to have their level of achievement recognised. It gives purpose and direction to post-Grade 8 learning and can also help bridge the gap between Grade 8 and DipABRSM.

ARSM is all about the performance!

ARSM also gives candidates the opportunity to create and perform their own programme of music for the first time.

Preparing to meet the challenges of a sustained 30-minute programme will help develop greater technical assurance and instrument control.

Successful candidates receive a certificate and can add letters (ARSM) after their name.

The exam is a performance of a 30-minute programme where:

  • at least 20 minutes of music is chosen from the ARSM repertoire list (this is the same list set for DipABRSM (PDF));
  • up to 10 minutes of music can be own-choice repertoire (of ABRSM Grade 8 standard or above).

Programmes should be balanced and varied.

The marks for ARSM are allocated as follows:

Maximum marks

Pieces/songs presented


Performance as a whole




Out of the total of 50 marks available, 34 are required for a Pass, 40 for a Merit and 45 for a Distinction.

All candidates receive a mark form showing the examiner’s comments and the marks awarded. 

ARSM is suitable for musicians, of any age, who would like something to work towards after Grade 8. Candidates must have already passed ABRSM Grade 8 Practical or Performance exam or a listed alternative in the instrument they want to take ARSM in.

We accept Grade 8 qualifications from some other exam boards. A list of these can be found in our eligibility to enter section. Similarly, we’ll also accept a Grade 8 in a closely-related instrument.

Please note that:

  • Candidates need to have passed Grade 8 before the closing date for their ARSM entry.
  • There are no time limits on the validity of Grade 8.

We may ask candidates to send us their Grade 8 certificate or other supporting documentation.

ClarinetARSM is available for the following instruments:

  • Keyboard: Piano, Harpsichord, Organ
  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Harp (pedal only)
  • Woodwind: Recorder, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone
  • Brass: Horn, Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn, E♭ Horn, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, Tuba
  • Percussion
  • Singing

This ARSM syllabus is valid from January 2017 until further notice.

We will post any minor updates at www.abrsm.org/syllabuscorrections. Advance notice of a revised syllabus containing significant changes will be provided on this page. 

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