Latest exam updates

Performance Grades: Booking for June Performance Grades is open now until 13 May.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Update 26 April 2021 - refunds for exams from April  to July 2021


To support customers affected by ongoing COVID restrictions, for all ABRSM exams in all countries any absent candidate will automatically receive a full refund.

This includes Performance Grade exams where the candidate has been unable to record and upload their video, and online Music Theory exams at Grades 1 to 5. You do not need to contact us to request a refund. However, it will help us if you log in to your account and cancel the exam.

  • For Performance Grades we will issue refunds within one month of the end of the exam session (not the exam date).
  • For online Music Theory (Grades 1 to 5) we will issue refunds within one month of the end of the exam session. 

 

Exam type

Exam session

Refunds will be received by

Performance Grades

May

end of June

Performance Grades

June

end of July

Performance Grades

July

end of August

Online Music Theory (Grades 1 to 5)

May-June

end of July

Update 10 March 2021

Face-to-face practical exams in 2021

We have published all planned dates for face-to-face practical exams in 2021. However, we will need to keep these dates under review as we can only accept bookings if COVID travel and government restrictions are lifted. Please continue to check the Dates and Fees page for the most up to date information.

Performance Grades

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021.  Confirmed dates up to September 2021 are available on our website and we will continue to run exams every month from October to December and beyond. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details. Our next Performance Grade booking period is open from 7 to 14 April, with exam submission dates in May. You can find all our Performance Grades information here. Our YouTube Performance Grades playlist is also a great place to find guidance, advice and tips. 

Music Theory

Online Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 5) – forthcoming dates

We have changed the way we provide online Music Theory exams to provide an improved and more flexible service for candidates. We can now confirm the next opportunity for candidates to take online Music Theory exams at Grades 1 to 5. 

Booking period: 26 April to 4 May 2021 - you can book exams during this period using our online booking service.

Exam window: 26 May to 23 June 2021 - candidates can take their exam on any date/time between 26 May and 23 June. You do not have to select a specific date when you book. 

  • You do not have to select a specific date when you book.  
  • Candidates can sit their exam on any date and at any time during the exam session. All grades are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week between May 26 and 23 June 2021.
  • To maintain the security of the assessment, candidates will be randomly assigned different sets of questions.
  • Please make sure that all preparations are made well in advance of the chosen exam date, including checking the system requirements and running the system compatibility This is particularly important if candidates are planning to take their exam towards the end of the four-week session.
  • Candidates will only be able to take one exam during this period.  
  • Candidates can take their exam in any location where they have access to a laptop or desktop computer with a webcam and the internet that meets our requirements.
  • All exams will be online and no physical paper will be provided, unless it is required for access arrangements or reasonable adjustments. You can find out more here.

From August 2021 we will be introducing further improvements to the online Music Theory exam service we offer and will provide more information about this as soon as we can.

You can find information about booking, preparing for and taking the exam, including full technical requirements, on our website here. Please read this information carefully before booking an exam.

Music Theory exams at Grade 6 to 8 will continue as paper-based exams. Please check our Dates and Fees page for planned dates.

Grade 5 Music Theory requirement

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

 

03 February 2021

Face-to-face practical exams in 2021

We have published all planned dates for face-to-face practical exams in 2021. However, we will need to keep these dates under review as we can only accept bookings if COVID travel and government restrictions are lifted. Please continue to check the Dates and Fees page for the most up to date information.

2 November 2020

Syllabus Validity and Overlap Periods

Due to COVID-19, we are happy to extend the overlap periods of the Bowed Strings 2016–2019 syllabus, and the Percussion 1990–2009 syllabus. Please read the Syllabus Overlap guidance carefully for the full requirements and arrangements for your syllabus. Key dates are summarised below for reference but you will need to refer to the full published guidance for the complete details of how to prepare.

Syllabus

Published end date

Published overlap period (worldwide)

Special COVID-19 extension arrangements (worldwide)

Bowed Strings 2016–2019

31 December 2019

Until 31 December 2020

 

 

Please note, due to COVID-19 we are happy to extend this overlap to the first opportunity for candidates to take their exam in 2021. Special permission is no longer required. Candidates should inform the examiner, and/or indicate on the programme form, that they are playing pieces from the 2016–2019 syllabus.

Any candidate starting preparations for an exam in 2021 must use the new 2020–2023 syllabus.

Percussion

1990–2019

31 December 2019

Until 31 December 2020

 

 

Please note, due to COVID-19 we are happy to extend this overlap to the first opportunity for candidates to take their exam in 2021. Special permission is no longer required. Candidates should inform the examiner, and/or indicate on the programme form, that they are using the 1990–2019 syllabus.

Any candidate starting preparations for an exam in 2021 must use the new Percussion syllabus, available for four subjects – Snare Drum, Timpani, Tuned Percussion and Percussion (Combined). 

13 August 2020

Music Exams

Unfortunately, there is still uncertainty around how and when we can begin to offer face-to-face Practical Grade exams, including Grades 1-8, ARSM and Diplomas. We recognise that the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic will continue to disrupt travel and large gatherings of candidates. We are monitoring the situation and doing all we can to get these exams up and running again. However, everything we do must be in line with guidance from both your government and the UK government to ensure the safety of learners, teachers, examiners and staff. 

We’ve now published further information about our remotely-assessed Performance Grades. We will be gradually rolling out Performance Grades internationally, starting before the end of 2020, following their initial launch in the UK. We’ll let you know more about future exam dates as soon as we can.  In the meantime, you can find out more about these exams here.

Performance Grades

We will be gradually rolling out Performance Grades internationally, starting before the end of 2020, following their initial launch in the UK. We’ll let you know more about future exam dates as soon as we can.  You can find out more about these exams here. We are providing further details as and when we are able to, and you can now read the full guidance document, which includes information about how you should record and submit a remotely-assessed Performance Grade once theses exams are available.

Introducing online Music Theory at Grades 1 to 5 – the headlines

What’s changing and at which grades?

We will be moving the assessment of Music Theory at Grades 1 to 5 to an online exam. We are confident that the online format will provide a more learner-friendly experience for candidates. We have been working on these developments for some time, but in response to the Covid-19 pandemic we have accelerated this work.

At the same time, we have updated some of the Grade 1 to 5 questions to bring them in line with a style of assessment commonly used across the education sector. In addition, there are a few minor changes to the syllabus itself. These changes apply to online Music Theory exams from 2020 onwards. Where online exams are not yet available and we are still offering paper-based exams, there will be no changes to questions and the exams will be based on the ‘from 2018’ Music Theory syllabus.

Please see this page for further details, including a useful syllabus summary.

We have recently shared additional resources to help teachers and learners become familiar with the new online exams. These include:

  • Example Grade 5 exam questions in the online format
  • A step by step guide, taking you through the exam process
  • Video demos of how to set up the new exam, and what the new questions will look like

These new materials can be found on this page.

Please be aware that Music Theory exams at Grades 6 to 8 will continue as paper-based assessments for everyone worldwide. There are no changes to the questions or syllabus for these grades. We will offer these exams when we can do this safely and in line with government guidance.

When is it happening?

The first opportunity to take an online Music Theory exam varies across markets. All of the webpages have been updated with the relevant information, so please refer to our website for specific information for each country.

The following markets will have online Music Theory exams for Grades 1 to 5 in November or December:

  •  UK, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, India, Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Malta

The international roll-out of the new online Music Theory exams for all other markets will take place during 2021, with preparations being made during the rest of 2020. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to ensure paper-based Music Theory exams for Grades 1 to 8 go ahead in all international markets this year where they can do so safely.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work out the best options for the safe delivery of our assessments. We will provide updates on the availability of all our exams and assessments as soon as we can. 

Useful Links

 

Where to find sheet music

Many retailers are continuing to provide sheet music, books, instruments and accessories through online or mail order services. View our shops list here.

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