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.

New Bowed Strings syllabus 2020-2023

What’s new

  • Refreshed repertoire lists for all four instruments at all grades
  • More choice than ever before, with the lists extended to ten pieces (30 pieces in total per grade)
  • Duet option included for the first time – up to Grade 3
  • Cello Exam Pieces (Grades 1–5) published for the first time 
  • New Initial Grade exam introduced – a pre-Grade 1 assessment following the same structure, content and assessment criteria as ABRSM’s existing graded music exams (three pieces, scales, sight-reading and aural tests)
  • All four instruments at Initial Grade supported with an Exam Pack publication containing nine pieces (three per list) from the syllabus, the scales requirements and sample sight-reading tests
  • A separate publication containing sample aural tests for the Initial Grade also available
  • A focus on cross-string teaching at the lower levels with some of the same pieces being set for multiple instruments
  • Revised list structure
  • A focus on cross-string teaching at the lower levels with some of the same pieces being set for multiple instruments. For a list of these pieces see Compatible Pieces.

Syllabus validity

The Bowed Strings syllabus 2020–2023 comes into effect on 1 January 2020. This means that:

  • Candidates can begin to present pieces from the new lists;
  • Candidates can continue to present pieces from the 2016–2019 syllabus lists during the overlap period (see below);
  • Scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural test requirements remain exactly the same as for the 2016–2019 syllabus.

Syllabus overlap

From 2020 a one-year overlap period will apply worldwide. This means that all candidates can continue to play pieces from the 2016–2019 syllabus until 31 December 2020 (all pieces must be from the same syllabus).

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy and consent to our use of cookies. Find out more.