Latest exam updates

Exam refunds

To support customers affected by ongoing COVID restrictions, for Practical and Performance Grade exams from 1 January to 31 May 2021 any absent candidate will automatically receive a refund. This includes Performance Grades where the candidate has been unable to record and upload their video. You do not need to contact us to request a refund. However, it will help us if you can log in to your account and cancel the exam.

For Online Music Theory exams and any paper based exams taking place outside of the UK/Ireland we anticipate COVID restrictions will not prevent candidates from sitting their exam so absentee candidates will not automatically receive a refund and our normal Withdrawal, Non-attendance and Fee Refunds Policy still applies.

Performance Grade booking

We will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Exact dates will be announced soon. Please check here for more information.

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) – the next exams will take place in June. Please note, dates and booking periods for Grades 1-5 and Grades 6-8 may be different from now on. For full details, see our dates and fees page.
  • 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. If you receive an email asking for your proof of prerequisite, please ignore this. We will still release any results in line with the arrangements outlined here.

For more information click here.

Face-to-face practical exams, session 1 - USA

Due to current COVID restrictions, we will not be opening our normal booking period in January for face-to-face practical exams in April-June. We hope to provide a practical session later in the year, but need to keep all dates under review as we can only accept bookings if COVID travel and government restrictions are lifted. We will provide an update nearer to the next booking period.


How I chose my ARSM repertoire by James McQueen

Whilst preparing for the ARSM exam, I found myself spoiled for choice when it came to selecting the pieces of music that I actually wanted to play, leading to some very tough decisions in order to create a programme just thirty minutes long.

Upon completing Grade 8 Trumpet, I began learning and playing several pieces with little direction or specific goal in mind, other than the fact that I knew I wanted to, at some point, take the ARSM. After becoming familiar with various trumpet concertos, sonatas and etudes, I had built up a reasonable repertoire of music that I could select for my programme, however I was hesitant to commit to a final choice. I believe this was largely due to being overwhelmed by what felt like a significant balancing act of creating a programme of varied pieces that I enjoyed playing, while also keeping to the required length.

I spent quite some time going back and forth between different pieces, eventually settling on a concerto and etude that I knew I wanted to perform in the exam and much of my focus was shifted towards preparing these pieces. However, this still left me with about seven minutes of performance time which I left to deal with later as I was unsure about what I would fill it with.

Eventually I realised that my main concern was about finding something that fitted all the criteria I had, like style and particularly duration. The solution therefore was to simply note down the running time of all the pieces I had worked on, as well as those featured on ABRSM’s ARSM repertoire list, and choose one which both resonated with me enough that I actually wanted to play it, and also completed the programme. Had I done this earlier, I could have spent more time preparing, playing and enjoying the music for my exam, rather than worrying about what it was that I would actually play.

Ultimately, I found that my final choice of repertoire came down to what felt right. During my initial search for music there were some pieces that, despite appearing to tick all the boxes at first, I just didn't feel particularly inspired by. It was only once I had looked elsewhere and found something that really struck a chord with me that I felt truly motivated to explore the music and bring the best out of it that I could. The rest fell into place from there.

Once I was settled on the music, I chose the order of the programme by deciding to arrange the pieces chronologically. This made the decision nice and straightforward, while also helping me to feel a sense of coherence and direction throughout the planning of the performance.

After going through the whole process, I found that all I needed was some careful planning in order to have a nice and smooth experience, with the earlier it being sorted the better!

James W. McQueen, Previous ARSM Candidate

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