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Latest exam updates
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.
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.
There is no specific requirement to perform from memory. However, candidates are encouraged to do so if they consider it will enhance their performance.
We advise singers to perform their programme from memory, with the exception of oratorio/sacred items and complex contemporary scores.
Please note that:
To hear what our Chief Examiner has to say about performing from memory in your ARSM exam, watch this video.
Performances should be accompanied where appropriate and candidates should provide their own piano accompanist. The candidate’s teacher may act as accompanist. Pre-recorded accompaniments are not allowed and the examiner cannot act as the accompanist.
Candidates and accompanists may bring a page-turner to assist with awkward page-turns; prior permission is not needed. Examiners are not able to help with page-turning.
For face-to-face exams: Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of the whole programme. A separate copy of the music is not needed – examiners can use the candidate’s or accompanist’s copy.
Candidates who are performing from memory must also bring copies of their music.
For remotely-assessed exams: Candidates should show the opening of any own-choice pieces to the camera before beginning their performance. If an examiner has a query about any of the other pieces presented, they will refer to ABRSM’s library.
Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) or illegal downloads of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where we have evidence of an illegal copy being used.
In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.
Our exams are normally conducted in English.
As there are no tests in ARSM which require a candidate to respond to questions from the examiner, an interpreter is unlikely to be needed. However, a candidate who is not comfortable using English may be allowed to bring an independent person into the exam room as interpreter. Please refer to our exam regulations for more information.
This ARSM syllabus is valid from January 2017 until further notice. The August 2020 update contains no changes to the existing exam requirements and repertoire lists, but includes additional information covering the new remote-assessment option introduced in late 2020.
Every candidate will get a mark form with feedback and marks. Successful candidates receive a certificate and can add letters (ARSM) after their name.
Exam music should be available from music retailers worldwide as well as online.
We have made every effort to ensure that the publications listed remain available for the duration of the syllabus.
We advise candidates to buy their music well in advance of the exam in case of any delays with items temporarily out of print or not kept in stock by retailers.
Apart from queries relating to exams, all enquiries about the music (e.g. editorial, availability) should be addressed to the relevant publisher. Contact details are listed at www.abrsm.org/publishers.
The prerequisite for entry to DipABRSM is an ABRSM Grade 8 (which includes having passed Grade 5 Music Theory). ARSM will be accepted as a substitute to this prerequisite as long as you can show that you have also passed ABRSM Grade 5 Theory. Some alternative qualifications and experience will also be accepted.
To find out how ARSM helps to prepare you for DipABRSM, watch this video.
No, ARSM and DipABRSM (Music Performance) are separate diplomas. Anyone who wishes to obtain a DipABRSM needs to take the exam in full.
The DipABRSM and LRSM diplomas in Music Performance are more wide-ranging qualifications than ARSM as skills and knowledge beyond the performance itself are assessed. You need to demonstrate that you already have a strong foundation in all these areas before you can enter for LRSM. As such, you can only take LRSM (Music Performance) if you have passed DipABRSM (Music Performance). Some alternative qualifications and experience will also be accepted.
(*Advanced Certificate is no longer valid, this exam was withdrawn in 2001.)
Yes, these two exams do differ. The Advanced Certificate assessed a 30-40 minute performance, as well as Quick Study, Viva and Musicianship Tests. ARSM is a performance-only diploma, where candidates present a 30-minute programme.
ABRSM graded music examinations and diplomas are regulated in England by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and the corresponding regulatory authorities in Wales (Qualifications Wales) and Northern Ireland (the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment - CCEA). They are part of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England.
The ARSM has been placed at Level 4 in the RQF, and appears in the register that can be viewed at register.ofqual.gov.uk as the ABRSM Level 4 Diploma in Music Performance (ARSM).
As part of its regulatory processes, ABRSM has assigned Guided Learning Hours (GLH) and Total Qualification Time (TQT) to the ARSM. These are figures designed to give an idea of the volume of work, expressed in number of hours, which could reasonably be required in order for a candidate to achieve the qualification.
Guided Learning Hours express the number of hours of direct supervision, e.g. lessons with a tutor, that a candidate is likely to need in preparation for a qualification. The Total Qualification Time encompasses Guided Learning Hours plus an estimate of the total number of hours of other preparation, e.g. personal practice, likely to be required.
For the ARSM, the figures are as follows:
Guided Learning Hours (GLH)
Total Qualification Time (TQT)
For further information on ABRSM’s accreditation and regulation, see www.abrsm.org/regulation.
We audio record face-to-face exams for monitoring, quality assurance and training purposes. These recordings are the property of ABRSM and are deleted after the conclusion of each exam session, with the exception of selected examples which may be used for training. Candidates will not be identified or identifiable in recordings used for training.
DipABRSM is a more wide-ranging qualification than ARSM, requiring the demonstration of skills and knowledge beyond the performance itself. The two diplomas are placed at Level 4 in the Regulated Qualification Framework with Ofqual. Level 4 covers a broad range of regulated qualifications across many different disciplines, including Music diplomas, and within this range of qualifications different degrees of content, depth and breadth are required. ARSM sits lower in Level 4 than DipABRSM due to its focus on performance alone.