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.

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Details of what is required for the ARSM exam are provided below.

Performance duration

ClarinetAn ARSM performance should last for 30 minutes, but it can be up to two minutes shorter or longer. The 30 minutes includes any breaks between items.

Woodwind, brass and singing candidates can take a longer break of up to three minutes during the exam. This will be counted as part of the 30 minutes’ performance time.

The examiner may stop the performance if a candidate goes over the time limit.

Programme requirements

The following requirements apply to the 30-minute performance:

  • The programme should include at least 20 minutes of music chosen from the ARSM repertoire list.
  • The remaining time (up to 10 minutes) can be filled with own-choice repertoire. Please note that:
    • own-choice repertoire should be at, or above, ABRSM Grade 8 standard;
    • prior approval from ABRSM is not needed (and can’t be given), for any own-choice repertoire;
    • woodwind, brass and singing candidates taking a break, must take the time from this 10-minute allowance;
    • performing a full programme chosen from ARSM repertoire lists doesn’t give any advantage over choosing to include some own-choice repertoire.
  • The programme should be balanced and varied, containing:
    • a variety of moods, keys and tempi;
    • at least two contrasting (by period or style) pieces, or movements from larger works;
    • no more than one work by any single composer (except for vocal items or where a combination of movements or pieces from a composer’s collection is indicated in the ARSM repertoire lists).
  • Where a combination of movements or pieces from a larger work is set on the ARSM repertoire lists under a single number, they should all be performed.
  • Candidates should perform all works/movements complete, although discretion may be used in matters such as the omission of tutti sections or the inclusion of cadenzas in concerto movements or other works.
  • Candidates should follow any additional instructions shown at the start of the relevant repertoire list.

Programme form

Candidates need to make sure they have completed a programme form, which they should give to the examiner at the start of the exam.

This form should contain the following information, presented in programme order:

  • the candidate’s name and (main) instrument
  • the list number, for pieces chosen from the repertoire list; own-choice repertoire can be marked with a dash ( – )
  • the composer name and, where applicable, the arranger’s/transcriber’s name
  • full information on each piece being performed, including:
    • the name of the piece/larger work
    • catalogue number, where available – Opus number, BWV for Bach, K. for Mozart, etc.
    • details of individual movements/sections
    • for own-choice repertoire, the edition used
  • for woodwind, brass and singing candidates, where the break (if planned) will be taken and its length
  • an approximate timing for each piece (broken down for individual movements/sections of larger works)
  • the overall programme length, which should include gaps between items and, where applicable, a longer break.

In cases where there isn’t enough room on the form, the programme information can be continued on a second form.

Explanatory videos

For more information about putting the programme together, watch these videos.

Exam music and editions

PianistWhere the repertoire lists include an arrangement or transcription, candidates should use the edition listed; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the entry.

For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the repertoire lists are recommendations only and candidates can use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

All own-choice repertoire should exist in a published edition (either in print or downloadable), which candidates should indicate on the programme form.

Back to ARSM index

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