Latest exam updates

Performance Grades – booking for our next session of remotely-assessed Performance Grade and ARSM exams opens in the week beginning 5 April. To check dates click here. You can find all our Performance Grades information and guidance here.

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.

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.

For all press and media enquiries please contact Jon Flinn on 07811 397122

or email [email protected]

Full statement provided to the Telegraph

3 years ago


At ABRSM it’s our mission to inspire musical achievement. We do everything we can to support students’ progression and success in music, whatever their needs and musical destinations. We believe that learning music theory gives students the tools they need to get the most from their musical activities. Our commitment to the teaching and learning of core musical skills, knowledge, and understanding is unwavering. And we back this up by continuously developing new print and digital resources supporting the varied needs of students and teachers. We also have a longstanding requirement that candidates must pass Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Jazz or Practical Musicianship before they can enter for a practical exam at Grade 6, 7 or 8. As part of our responsibility to teachers and students, we review and refresh all our assessments on an on-going basis. To do this we consult with customers and education experts, including teaching staff from our Royal Schools of Music partners. The revised exam papers are based on our existing Music Theory syllabus and will continue to assess the same broad areas of music theory. Although we’ve made some small changes to the papers, the underlying knowledge you need remains the same. Our panel of expert Theory Examiners will continue to mark all our exam papers to the same rigorous standards as now. When making these changes, we took into account best practice in assessment and question design. As a result we’ve introduced Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) for one element of the exam. MCQs are an accessible, reliable and proven way of assessing certain aspects of knowledge. They are an existing and accepted element of school exams and the vast majority of candidates will be familiar with them. 11 August 2017 Further information:

  • Improving our Music Theory exams blog post
  • Sample papers for Grades 1 to 5 (2 sets) to view, download and print
  • Multiple choice quiz for musical terms and signs
  • To find out more about the changes, please visit www.abrsm.org/theory2018
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