International exam regulations
(excluding UK & Ireland)
NB, these Regulations apply to all ABRSM exams except Diplomas, for which separate syllabuses containing distinct regulations are available.
- ABRSM exam subjects are listed in the syllabus charts.
- For the graded exams, there are eight grades, numbered progressively in order of difficulty from 1 to 8.
- Candidates may be entered in any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in the same subject.
- Prerequisite for Practical Grades 6, 7 and 8: candidates must already have passed one of the qualifications listed on the prerequisite page. This must have been passed before the closing date for the Practical exam and a copy of the certificate or mark form must be supplied at the time of entry.
- Syllabuses for the various subjects are updated periodically. All new syllabuses are valid from 1 January of their year of introduction. Advance notice of any syllabus change is given in the syllabus updates, and in ABRSM’s magazine, Libretto. The introduction of new scale requirements, sight-reading and/or aural tests does not necessarily coincide with the introduction of new pieces (the latter being the most frequent element of syllabus review).
- In the first year of any new Practical syllabus, candidates may choose to perform pieces as set in the lists of the preceding syllabus, but they may not combine pieces from the preceding and new syllabuses (except in the case of items that appear in both). No such overlap period applies to any new scale requirements, sight-reading and/or aural tests, which take effect from 1 January of their year of introduction.
- The Applicant is the person (aged 18 or over) who submits the exam entry and acts on behalf of the candidate (or candidates) by being ABRSM’s principal point of contact. A candidate aged 18 or over who submits an entry is the Applicant for that entry.
- The Applicant’s responsibilities are: to read and undertake to abide by these Exam Regulations, ensuring that those connected with the exam are aware of relevant matters; to submit the exam entry, ensuring the accuracy of the information supplied, including name spellings, grades and subjects of examination, and any specific needs; to make payment for the exam; to notify the candidate of the exam date, time and venue; and to receive the exam mark form/certificate and to pass them on to the candidate.
- Each Applicant is assigned a personal Applicant Number on the first occasion that an entry is submitted. The Applicant Number should be quoted in all communications with ABRSM. In countries where online entry is available (see regulation 4c), Applicants may request a confidential password, which can be used in conjunction with the Applicant Number and a registered e-mail address to gain access to online exam services. The password should not be disclosed to anyone else and may be changed by the Applicant at any time.
- All written communications by ABRSM relating to the acceptance of an entry, payment, the appointment allocated and the result are sent to the Applicant. Responsibility for an entry cannot be transferred to another party without the Applicant’s written consent. While the Applicant remains ABRSM’s principal point of contact in all matters, ABRSM reserves the right to share information regarding an exam with another party in response to a valid enquiry. ABRSM cannot become involved in any dispute or communication breakdown between an Applicant and the candidate on whose behalf the entry has been submitted (or the parent/guardian).
- Entries must be submitted by the Applicant by the published last date of entry/last day of entry period, using either a paper entry form (by post) or the online entry form where available (see regulation 4c).
- Postal entry must be made using the current paper entry form, published by ABRSM, and downloadable here. Entry forms are also available from local Representatives or, where there is no Representative, direct from ABRSM’s office in London.
- Online entry (currently available in Malaysia and Singapore for all examinations other than Choral Singing, Ensembles and Diplomas) is available from this website. The Applicant gains access to the online entry form using the Applicant Number and confidential password (see regulation 3c).
- Entries can be accepted by ABRSM only in accordance with the conditions and regulations, and on the understanding that in all matters the decision of ABRSM must be accepted as final.
- ABRSM reserves the right to refuse, invalidate or cancel any entry and to return any entry received after the closing date has passed. In such cases, the entry fee(s) will be returned.
- Candidates for Theory exams should be entered only in the Period in which the specified day and time are suitable for them (see exam dates); under no circumstances are they permitted to sit the exam on any other date or at any other time. Candidates may be entered for only one Theory exam in any given Period.
- Wherever possible, ABRSM endeavours to make translations of the exam script available for Theory candidates. Requests for such translations must be made at the time of entry.
- Exam fees must be paid in full at the time of entry.
- Where the entry is made on behalf of more than one candidate, a single payment must be made by the Applicant: ABRSM cannot process a separate payment for each candidate.
- Once an entry and payment have been submitted, the entry fee cannot be refunded other than in accordance with ABRSM’s regulations for withdrawals, non-attendance and fee refunds (see regulation 9).
- Any query regarding a payment made, or an outstanding amount, is notified to the Applicant by the Local Representative as soon as possible after the entry has been processed. Where any such query has not been resolved by the date of the exam, ABRSM reserves the right to withhold the release of exam results/certificates for all candidates entered by the Applicant. In cases where payment is made with a dishonoured cheque and ABRSM is obliged to pursue payment, an additional fee may be incurred to cover administrative costs and bank charges.
- ABRSM provides exam Centres for Practical and/or Theory exams as arranged by its Representatives.
- The precise exam venue cannot be confirmed until after the examining timetables have been arranged; it is notified to the Applicant with the exam appointment(s).
- ABRSM reserves the right not to open a Centre if the number of entries is insufficient. In such cases, an appointment is offered at an alternative venue. Similarly, if a Centre is at full capacity, candidates may be allocated an appointment at an alternative venue.
- A suitable exam environment, which is quiet as well as properly lit, heated and ventilated, is offered at all Centres. For Practical exams, Centres provide: a waiting room (or area); and an exam room, which contains a suitable piano (this may be upright or grand) and which is, where possible, out of hearing of the waiting room. A steward is present at all Centres. For Theory exams, an exam room is provided, with tables that allow reasonable spacing of candidates. An invigilator is present for the duration of the exam. All Centres are regularly monitored by ABRSM.
- It is recommended that candidates under the age of 15 are accompanied to the Centre by a responsible adult. Space in the waiting room may be limited and candidates should therefore bring no more than one escort nor arrive more than ten minutes before the exam appointment.
- For Practical exams, where possible an additional room (or area) is made available where candidates may briefly warm up, but ABRSM cannot guarantee to provide such a facility.
- Practical and/or Theory exams may be held at premises provided by the Applicant in accordance with the regulations and requirements stipulated below. Applicants hosting a Visit have a duty of care towards examiners as well as candidates and their escorts and, as such, they are advised to carry out a risk assessment and to make appropriate arrangements to comply with health and saftey legislation. ABRSM cannot accept liability for any damage, injury, expense or loss (including consequential loss) incurred during the course of a Visit.
Depending on the country and local conditions, Practical exams may be held at:
i) schools where there is at least 3 hours of examining (see table of exam lengths);
ii) studios or residences of teachers where there is no ABRSM Public Centre conveniently near, provided there is a sufficient number of candidates to justify a visit from the examiner;
iii) special venues for subjects which cannot be accommodated at an ABRSM Public Centre, e.g. Harpsichord, Organ, Percussion, Choral Singing.
- Exams should not normally begin before 08.30 or end later than 18.00. A 15-minute break should be scheduled each morning and afternoon, and a lunch break of around 1 hour 15 minutes should be allowed. The maximum total examining time for a day should not normally exceed 6 hours 30 minutes.
- Two or more Applicants may combine their entries in order to meet the minimum time requirement but the exams must be held at a single venue. An Applicant wishing to participate in another Applicant’s Visit must seek permission from that Applicant before submitting an entry. The Applicant hosting the Visit is responsible for the provision of suitable facilities and arrangements (see regulation 7e) and for the receipt of instructions and timetables from ABRSM.
- Schools and teachers at whose addresses Practical exams are held must provide a suitable exam room which is quiet as well as properly lit, ventilated and heated or air-conditioned as appropriate, with a writing-table and chair for the examiner, and a suitable piano (see regulation 7f), and is, where possible, out of hearing of the waiting room. There should be someone to act as steward outside the exam room for the duration of the exams in accordance with ABRSM’s instructions.
- A piano must be provided in the exam room. It must be properly regulated and in tune (a’ = 440). A digital piano may be used, provided it has a clearly recognizable piano tone, a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including a sustaining pedal.
- Where a Visit is solely for a Choral Singing exam, an examiner attendance fee is charged.
In some countries Theory exams may be held, as a Visit, at a school of general education or music centre approved by ABRSM and distant from the nearest Centre. Completion of the entry form requires the head teacher to accept responsibility for the safe custody of the papers and proper conduct of the exam.
- Applicants hosting a Visit are responsible for ensuring suitable facilities and arrangements at their own cost: an exam room, which is quiet as well as properly lit, ventilated and heated or air-conditioned as appropriate, and with tables that allow the reasonable spacing of candidates; a responsible person appointed by the head teacher to act as invigilator within the exam room for the duration of the exam in accordance with ABRSM’s instructions.
The Periods of Practical exams are provided online. Exact dates of Practical exams at individual centres can only be arranged once all the entries have been received and processed.
- Appointments may be given for any date(s) within the whole of the examining Period, subject to the availability of ABRSM’s examiners. The Applicant must therefore ensure that candidates are ready for an exam from the first day of the Period in question. In allocating the exam dates, ABRSM takes into account, wherever possible, any date preferences indicated by the Applicant at the time of entry. However, date allocations are decided on the basis of scheduling examiners’ time most efficiently while providing convenient appointments to as many candidates as possible, and consequently ABRSM cannot guarantee to fulfil any preferences indicated by the Applicant, or to avoid any particular dates. ABRSM cannot accept entries that are conditional on particular dates being allocated or avoided.
- Notification of the exam date, time and venue is sent as early as possible to the Applicant who has signed the entry form, normally no later than two weeks before the exam date. ABRSM requires all candidates to be present for examination as scheduled and it cannot undertake to alter an Applicant's allocated exam date once the notices have been issued.
- The notification also confirms the names, grades and subjects of candidates entered, and any request for special arrangements/tests (see regulation 18). The Applicant is required to check these details and notify the Representative (or, where there is no Representative, ABRSM’s office in London) immediately of any error or correction.
Theory exams are held only on the set dates, and at a specified time (see regulation 4f).
- Notification is sent to the Applicant, confirming names and grades of candidates entered, and any request for special arrangements (see regulation 18). The Applicant is required to check these details and notify the Representative (or, where there is no Representative, ABRSM’s office in London) immediately of any error or correction. A name label is enclosed for each candidate, which must be brought by the candidate to the exam room (see regulation 10f).
- Notice of withdrawal of any candidate who cannot be present for an exam must be sent in writing with an explanation of the reason, immediately the inability to attend is known, and no later than the day of the exam. This should be sent to the office where the original entry was sent.
- Provided this is done, and the withdrawal is made necessary by some unavoidable and unpredictable event (such as illness or injury, which should be supported by documentary evidence such as a medical certificate), half of the entry fee may be refunded. As an alternative, at ABRSM's discretion, a re-entry voucher may be issued entitling the candidate to enter again, for the same subject and at the same or a higher grade, for an exam to be taken within one year of the original exam period. A candidate entered on a re-entry voucher is required to pay only the difference between the full fee for the selected grade at the time of re-entry and the value of the voucher. Re-entry vouchers cannot be subsequently exchanged for cash.
- A candidate re-entered on a voucher and again absent is not entitled to any further concession.
- A candidate who is withdrawn from an exam may be re-entered in the next exam Period, if the last date of entry has not passed. In such cases, a new entry and full payment (or re-entry voucher, if applicable) must be submitted, as entry details/payment cannot be transferred from one Period to the next.
- A candidate in quarantine for any infection must be withdrawn. If exams are cancelled owing to quarantine, alternative appointments/fee refunds may be offered at ABRSM’s discretion.
Timings for the Theory exams are:
Grades 1–3: 11/2 hours
Grades 4–5: 2 hours
Grades 6–8: 3 hours
- Candidates with sensory impairments, learning difficulties or particular physical needs (see regulation 18) may qualify for an additional time allowance.
- Candidates are advised to attend at least 10 minutes before the start of the exam and to bring the name label previously sent to the Applicant (see regulation 8f).
- No candidate arriving more than 35 minutes after the start of the exam will be admitted.
- An invigilator is present for the duration of the exam.
The invigilator opens the sealed packet of exam papers in the exam room in the presence of the candidates, and informs them that:
- they must complete their question paper without help and without reference to notes, musical calculators, or books of any kind, and that any candidate infringing this rule or helping another will be disqualified;
- they must stick their name label (see regulation 8f) at the top of their paper;
- they must write their answers clearly and legibly, otherwise marks may be lost;
- they are not allowed to take copies of the papers nor their rough notes from the room;
- the time allowed is printed at the top of each question paper.
- At Public Centres, ABRSM provides plain ruled manuscript paper on which candidates may do any rough working; at Visits, this may be provided by the Visit host. Candidates should bring their own pens or pencils. They may not bring mobile phones, other electronic devices or any unauthorized material or equipment (such as their own manuscript or other paper, any representation of the piano keyboard or any recording device) into the exam room. Candidates must not attempt to communicate with one another during the exam. Any candidate infringing these rules may be disqualified.
- Candidates may hand in their papers at any time after 40 minutes from the start of the exam but, having done so, must leave the room and may not return. Once candidates have left the exam room, they are no longer under the invigilator’s supervision or ABRSM’s temporary care (see regulation 19a).
- As each paper is handed in, the invigilator ensures that the candidate’s full name appears legibly at the top.
- The invigilator despatches the papers to ABRSM in accordance with the instructions issued by ABRSM, having first sealed them in secure envelopes before leaving the exam room.
- ABRSM does not accept responsibility for the loss of any papers in the post after their despatch to ABRSM by the invigilator. In such cases, the entry fees are returned.
- Timings for the Practical graded and Ensemble exams, Prep Test and Performance Assessment are specified in the table of exam lengths. These timings indicate the approximate duration of each exam and allow for the candidate’s entry and exit, any tuning time, as well as time for the examiner to complete the mark form between exams. Examiners may, at their discretion, take more or less time than the specified timings.
- Candidates with sensory impairments, learning difficulties or particular physical needs (see regulation 18) may qualify for an additional time allowance.
- An additional three minutes are allowed in exams where an interpreter is used (see regulation 13b).
- Candidates are advised to attend at least 10 minutes before the start of the exam.
- Candidates may not bring any unauthorized material or equipment (such as recording devices) into the exam room, and mobile phones must be switched off. Any candidate infringing this rule may be disqualified.
- Generally, one examiner only is present in the exam room. At ABRSM’s discretion, a second examiner may be present, for reasons of examiner training or quality assurance.
- For monitoring and moderation purposes, exams may, from time to time, be recorded. Such recordings become the property of ABRSM but remain strictly anonymous.
- With the exception of the steward and the local Representative, no-one is permitted to listen outside the exam room or to remain near the door.
- The steward is provided with a candidate list showing the timetable for each day, including each candidate's appointment time. Wherever possible, candidates are timetabled in the same order as listed on the entry form.
- Should the Applicant wish to alter the order in which candidates are examined, the following instructions must be observed: the overall time allocated to the entry must not be changed; the timing of any scheduled lunch break must not be affected; the revised candidate list (indicating precisely the new appointment time for each candidate) must be presented to the steward by the first candidate before the start of the exam.
- Candidates must provide their own live accompanist, who may remain in the exam room only while engaged in accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may act as accompanist; under no circumstances will the examiner do so except in the Prep Test. If necessary, the accompanist may simplify any part of the piano accompaniment, provided the result is musically satisfactory.
Exams are normally conducted in English. A candidate who is not comfortable using English is permitted to bring an independent person (who is neither the candidate’s music teacher nor a relative) into the exam room as interpreter.
- With the exception of an accompanist and/or interpreter, the candidate is normally not permitted to enter the exam room escorted by another person. However, if permission is requested in writing from ABRSM at the time of entry, the Applicant may appoint someone who is neither the candidate’s music teacher nor a relative to be present.
- Candidates are normally required to make any page-turns in their music themselves. In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department (email@example.com) no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Organ candidates at any grade may bring a page-turner (who may also act as registrant); prior permission is not required. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning. See Regulation 14k.
- In a Grade 8 exam, a candidate’s accompanist is permitted to bring a page-turner to assist with page-turns in the piano part; prior permission is not required.
- The individual sections of the exam may be undertaken in any order, at the candidate’s choice(although, ideally, accompanied pieces should be performed consecutively). If an accompanied exam begins with any section other than the pieces, the steward should be advised in advance so that the accompanist can be summoned at the appropriate time.
- Teachers and candidates are advised to pay close attention to the instrument-specific (or instrumental family-specific) regulations contained in each syllabus booklet, as well as to the requirements indicated in the current lists of syllabus pieces. A ‘piece’ comprises all the music set under one number-heading in the syllabus lists (unless an option is specifically indicated). Therefore, a ‘piece’ may comprise more than one movement from a work or more than one item from an album.
- Where appropriate, the initial tempo indication (or section title) of a piece/movement is listed in the syllabus. Where the piece/movement comprises more than one tempo indication (or section title), the whole piece/movement is still required to be played in the exam (unless otherwise indicated).
- Candidates failing to observe specific syllabus requirements or regulations (i.e. performing a piece not listed in the syllabus, or not being prepared to perform the full extent of a piece as indicated in the syllabus) may be penalized, or, in certain cases, disqualified.
- ABRSM offers a limited overlap period, during which pieces from the preceding syllabus may, under certain conditions, be performed (see regulation 2b).
- Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation 'arr.' or 'trans.' appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).
- Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner.
- All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.
- Performing pieces from memory is optional, except for singers, who must perform all items from memory, other than items from oratorios, cantatas or other large-scale sacred works. Candidates performing from memory must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary.
- Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece (a separate copy is not required: the candidate' or accompanist's copy will suffice). Examiners may stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment.
- The making or use of photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright works is not permitted. Application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to ensure that candidates act within the law with respect to the making and use of photocopies (or other copies). ABRSM reserves the right to withhold the exam result of any candidate where it has evidence of the use of an illegal copy (or copies) in connection with that exam.
- Special consideration may be given, at ABRSM’s discretion, to a candidate whose performance in an exam is felt to have been affected by, or who does not complete an exam owing to circumstances beyond the candidate’s control (e.g. a personal trauma shortly before, or at the time of, the exam, such as bereavement or family crisis; a minor injury immediately before, or illness occurring during, the exam; instrument failure/malfunction immediately before, or during, the exam; a serious disturbance or disruption at the time of the exam, such as power failure, fire alarm or noise from nearby building work). Further details are contained in ABRSM’s Special Consideration Policy, (NB these arrangements do not apply to candidates suffering illness or injury in advance of an exam, for whom the recommended course of action is withdrawal (see regulation 10 and regulation 16g)).
- Application for special consideration should be made only by the Applicant and must be sent in writing to the International Operations Director as soon as possible, and postmarked no later than seven days after the exam. Where appropriate, the application should be supported by documentary evidence, i.e. a medical certificate or a statement from an involved party. Should the Applicant be unavailable in the seven days after the exam, an initial application may be made in writing by another concerned party (e.g. the accompanist or a parent/guardian) but must be followed by formal confirmation by the Applicant as soon as possible, in accordance with the conditions outlined immediately above.
- Examiners are not permitted to determine whether special consideration should be given. Such decisions are made only by ABRSM, provided that the conditions in regulation 15b are met.
- Candidates can be assessed only on the performance given during an exam and consequently an application for special consideration will not normally result in an adjustment to marks.Where a section of an exam is not attempted, marks for that section cannot be awarded, but a candidate may still be successful and be awarded a certificate, provided that the marks awarded for the sections attempted total 100 or more in a Practical exam and 66 marks or more in a Theory exam.
Should an application for special consideration prove successful, the following possible outcomes will be considered by ABRSM in consultation with the Applicant:
- i) minor adjustment to the marks awarded, if an identifiable event or circumstance has affected the performance in any section or sections;
- ii) invalidation of the exam result and the opportunity for the candidate to retake the exam at the earliest opportunity and at no extra cost (for Practical exams, within the same exam Period where possible, although this may mean attending at an alternative centre);
- iii) invalidation of the exam result and a re-entry voucher to allow free entry in a later Period (see regulation 9b).
- Application for special consideration may delay the release of the exam result while investigation is carried out.
- For a candidate who has fallen ill or suffered injury in advance of the exam, the recommended course of action is withdrawal, followed by application for a re-entry voucher (see regulation 9b): it is not advisable for a candidate who is unwell to attend an exam, nor for a candidate suffering illness or injury to attempt an exam under disadvantageous circumstances that cannot be taken into account by the examiner.
- ABRSM’s marking schemes are outlined online as well as in the individual syllabus booklets.
- Examiners report direct to ABRSM and are not permitted to give any information regarding exam results to any other person. ABRSM authorizes its Representatives to issue results to Applicants.
- No marks are awarded for the Prep Test or Performance Assessment. A certificate with constructive comments is written by the examiner and presented to the candidate at the end of the assessment.
- Results are issued as soon as possible after the exam date. Prior to their issue, results are subject to various standard checks and quality-assurance processes, which means that, in some instances, their release takes longer, but every effort is made to keep any delay to a minimum.
- A mark form is issued for each candidate. For Practical exams, the mark form gives a breakdown of the marks awarded for each section and the total number of marks as well as the examiner’s comments. (When a candidate achieves a total of less than 70 marks, a mark form recording only the examiner’s comments will normally be issued, i.e. showing neither a breakdown of marks nor the total.) For Theory exams, the mark form gives a breakdown of the marks awarded for each question and the total number of marks. Theory papers are not returned after marking.
- All successful candidates receive a certificate, which specifies the subject and grade in which they have been examined. Certificates do not certify that the holders are qualified to teach, nor do they entitle them to append any letters to their names. While indicating a high standard at the level, a Distinction in Grade 8 does not necessarily imply suitability for admission to any of the Royal Schools of Music or any higher education institution, or for a professional career in music.
- Unless the Applicant requests otherwise, the results (mark forms/certificates) are posted to the Applicant named on the entry form, whose responsibility it is to pass them on to candidates. Applicants also receive a list of candidates showing the results obtained by each.
- Results are issued only in accordance with the procedures described in regulation 16g; ABRSM is not able to give any examination results by telephone or e-mail.
- ABRSM does not accept responsibility for the loss or non-receipt of any results after their despatch by post. Results of Practical exams will be sent by registered post if a request is made by remittance of the postal registration fee with the exam fees.
On application, the result of a past exam may be confirmed in writing to a concerned party (e.g. an Applicant, candidate, parent/guardian):
- i) Exams taken in 1993 or later: the candidate’s name, the date and place of examination and the Applicant’s name (and Applicant Number) must be supplied. The total marks gained are confirmed in writing by ABRSM for no charge. On payment of a fee, a duplicate certificate is provided, if requested.
- ii) Exams taken before 1993: the candidate’s name, the date and place of examination and the Applicant’s name (and Applicant Number) must be supplied. There is a search fee. A duplicate certificate is included, if requested. Payment (where applicable) should be made direct to ABRSM’s office in London by sterling draft negotiable in the UK or by credit card (Visa or MasterCard).
Following government accreditation of ABRSM graded music exams, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) includes Grades 6–8 in the tariff for UK university and college entrance. At the discretion of individual institutions, students may benefit from points recommendations - for details, see www.ucas.ac.uk.
Western Australian Accreditation
All candidates in Western Australia achieving a pass or higher in any of our grade and diploma exams can count this learning towards their senior secondary graduation certificate – the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).
All mark forms are clerically checked and reviewed prior to issue; therefore, enquiries concerning the arithmetical accuracy of results are normally unnecessary.
Complaints concerning either i) the examiner's conduct of an exam or ii) environmental issues to do with the exam, venue, or facilities for exams, should be made in writing within seven days of the exam. In order for ABRSM to investigate complaints fully and promptly prior to the dispatch of results, it is essential that the appropriate ABRSM person (see below) is made aware of any issues immediately, by telephone or e-mail. Details of the complaint must be confirmed in writing (by e-mail or post) and received within seven days of the exam. ABRSM aims to acknowledge such complaints within three working days. Complaints should be addressed to:
The appeals procedure exists to investigate the unusual situation in which a candidate receives a significantly lower result than anticipated:
i) Practical exams (Grades): To make a formal marking appeal against the marks awarded for a graded exam, an international appeals/feedback form - Practical should be completed, signed by the Applicant and sent by post to the Manager, Quality Assurance: Grades, ABRSM, 24 Portland Place, London W1B 1LU. Where necessary, a translation into English should be included. The appeal should be made to ABRSM as soon as possible, and postmarked no later than four weeks after the receipt of results (unless otherwise advised by ABRSM).
The international appeal/feedback form must be accompanied by the following:
- a copy of the relevant mark form(s);
- an unedited recording of the candidate performing the exam pieces and a selection of scales and arpeggios or the Unaccompanied Traditional Song (on CD, mini-disc or a digital recording);
- a letter verifying that the candidate is the performer and the recording is unedited, and stating the date of the recording. Download an example letter of authentication
- a completed payment form to enable the investigation to proceed.
If the formal marking appeal is not upheld, an investigation fee will be charged to the credit card concerned and a detailed response provided. If the appeal is upheld, no investigation fee will be charged and, depending on the circumstances of each case, ABRSM will issue either:
- a voucher equivalent to the value of the original exam (this can be used to enter for the same grade exam free of charge within one year of issue or as part payment towards a higher grade within the same timeframe); or
- a full refund of the original exam fee.
No marks can be amended retrospectively as a result of a formal marking appeal.
ABRSM aims to acknowledge receipt of appeal correspondence within three working days and to resolve all appeals within four weeks of the acknowledgement. If a formal marking appeal remains unresolved by the deadline for entry to the next exam Period, candidates intending to retake should be entered in the normal way, meeting the entry deadline. Any formal marking appeal upheld after the entry deadline will result in a full refund of the exam fee paid in lieu of a voucher being issued.
ii) Practical exams (Diplomas): A separate procedure exists for Diploma appeals. Please refer to the relevant Diploma Syllabus for further information.
iii) Theory exams: To make a formal appeal against the marking of a Music Theory exam, a Music Theory exam appeals form should be completed, signed by the Applicant and sent by post to the Manager, Quality Assurance: Theory, ABRSM, 24 Portland Place, London W1B 1LU, United Kingdom. In order for a full and thorough investigation by a moderator to proceed, the appeal form must be posted within twelve weeks of the exam, and section 4 (payment details) of the form must also be completed. ABRSM aims to acknowledge receipt of appeal correspondence within three working days and to resolve all appeals within four weeks of the acknowledgement. If the appeal is not upheld, the investigation fee will be charged to the credit card concerned. If the appeal is upheld, no charge will be made and an amended result will be issued. Completed Theory papers cannot be returned.
Candidates intending to retake should be entered in the normal way, meeting the published entry deadline. Any appeal upheld after the entry deadline will result in a full refund of the exam fee (if the candidate no longer wishes to retake).
In the exceptional circumstance that an Applicant does not accept the decision regarding an appeal, the Applicant may seek an independent review as to the correctness of the application of ABRSM’s appeals procedure in the particular case. A request for this should be made within 14 days of the dispatch of the decision and must be addressed in writing to the Chief Executive, accompanied by a fee of £60 per candidate made by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or by sterling draft negotiable in the UK. ABRSM aims to acknowledge the request within three working days and to respond with the outcome within four weeks of acknowledgement. If ABRSM is unable to respond within this timeframe, the Applicant will be kept informed. An independent person, unconnected with ABRSM, will be involved in the independent review process. The findings of the independent review will be fully taken into account by the Chief Executive, who will make the final decision. If the appeal is upheld, the review fee will be refunded.
ABRSM encourages comments about its services, including feedback on exam results. In cases where Applicants, parents or candidates wish to provide informal feedback about results or other matters, an international appeal/feedback form should be completed and submitted together with the relevant mark form(s) to the Manager, Quality Assurance: Grades, either by -email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by post (ABRSM, 24 Portland Place, London W1B 1LU). Where necessary, a translation into English should be included. All feedback is logged and plays a valued part in ABRSM's quality assurance procedures and will be acknowledged, although a response is not guaranteed.
- ABRSM endeavours to make its exams accessible to all candidates, although it should be understood that, while the examiner is informed of candidates’ needs, no special concession or allowance in marking is made, and each candidate’s performance is judged according to the standard normally expected. ABRSM publishes separate guidelines covering provisions for blind and partially-sighted candidates, deaf and hearing-impaired candidates and candidates with other specific needs. Where ABRSM’s guidelines are not applicable, or a candidate has particular physical access needs, each case is considered on an individual basis. Guidelines and further information are available from the Representative or from www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.
- All requests for access arrangements must be made at the time of entry, and the Applicant should record the relevant code on the entry form. Where further arrangements are required, the Applicant should attach a covering letter to the entry form giving full details.
- ABRSM acknowledges that it has a responsibility for the safety and welfare of children taking its exams or otherwise under its temporary care. All staff and volunteers working on behalf of ABRSM are required to accept this responsibility and are committed to practices that protect children from harm.
- ABRSM’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy, produced in consultation with NSPCC, is available from this website. The Policy includes a Code of Practice for all who work on behalf of the organization. ABRSM is committed to reviewing its Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and Code of Practice at regular intervals.
- ABRSM is committed to providing equality of opportunity and treatment for all, and will not unlawfully or unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly on the basis of gender, age, ethnic origin or disability in its dealings with any candidate, parent/guardian, teacher, examiner, representative or steward.
- ABRSM is committed to minimizing its environmental impact throughout its operations. In line with its Environmental Management Policy, ABRSM seeks to integrate environmental considerations into its daily activities, encouraging reuse and recycling while minimizing waste. Where practicable, ABRSM uses recycled paper for all printed publications and packaging materials; where this is not possible, pulp is sourced from sustainable forestry.
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