Latest exam updates

Music Theory exams – March 2021

  • Online Music Theory exams (Grades 1 to 5) – we are cancelling the online exams planned for 16 March. Exams in May and June will go ahead as planned.
  • Paper Music Theory exams (Grades 6 to 8) – we will not be offering these exams in March. The next exams at Grades 6 to 8 will be in June 2021.
  • Grade 5 Music Theory requirement - from 1 January to 30 April 2021 only, candidates can take Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical exams without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. From 1 May 2021, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return with flexibility about timing.

For more information click here.


Performance Grade booking

The next booking period for remotely-assessed Performance Grade and ARSM exams opens in February. For details, see our dates and fees page.


1 year ago
Alison Kelly

Alison Kelly

Alison Moncrieff-Kelly is a cellist, educator and ABRSM examiner in classical grades, jazz grades and Diplomas. She is also a Teacher Development Consultant for ABRSM, and has led workshops and presentations all over the world. Alison has been a syllabus consultant for ABRSM and also part of the team who prepared the cello sight-reading and scales. Alison teaches at City University London, Tonbridge School and also runs a highly successful private teaching practice.

The issue of stamina is something that teachers need to prepare, and pace their students for. An ARSM assessment is a marathon not a sprint! ARSM enables instrumental learners to see themselves at the top of the mountain, looking down on the journey they have taken, rather than seeing an invisible peak in the clouds, to which they cannot even aspire.

Building a good programme is the first base for this process. The balance of material and choices that showcase the individual’s strengths are obvious key elements. However, deciding what will still feel achievable and fresh at the end of the 30 minute programme for a pupil who previously may have only played pieces lasting ten minutes, is much less straightforward.

The best way forward is to mix some familiar repertoire with some new pieces. By sandwiching new material between some old friends can take the sting out of the nerves. This is what professionals building a recital programme would do, so it’s pretty good advice for recital programming.

It is very important to encourage learners to research the repertoire themselves. They may know all the available options, but even if they do, the importance of researching different versions/performances cannot be emphasised too much. With all the available apps and online tools, so many different versions can be accessed, and from that basis, a pupil can make informed choices about their repertoire and performance styles.

This is, by definition, a step-up from the requirements at Grade 8 level; but it is also a wonderful way of introducing pupils to involvement with learning as a pro-active process. After all, surely the goal of teachers is to make themselves redundant by teaching their pupils to become independent learners?





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