On 8 March 2023 we are introducing online programme forms for Performance Grades and digital ARSM diplomas. Instead of candidates showing a paper programme form to the camera at the start of the exam recording, the person submitting the video will enter the programme details online. Read our news story to find out how this will affect candidates and what you need to do. Find out more

Online programme forms from 8 March 2023

Yes. The form is available in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Italian and Spanish as well as English. However, please enter programme details as published in our syllabuses or in the publication for own choice repertoire.

  • You can edit the online form until you click ‘submit’ at the bottom of the page.
  • Once you’ve submitted the form you come to the video upload page. If you go back to the online form at this point, it will clear the information you have already entered. You should then re-enter all the programme details.
  • Once you have uploaded and submitted the video you cannot make any changes to the online programme form.

No, mistakes on the online programme won’t affect the marking.

You can use this video from 9 March, but you will also have to complete the online programme form when submitting the video.

No. To help parents or candidates complete the form you could email them the programme details so they can easily copy them into the form.

Yes, at the start of the video before their performance, candidates must still announce their programme, show the opening of their own-choice piece to the camera and show photo ID for Grades 6 to 8.

Yes. It’s a good idea to for candidates to have their programme details on a piece of paper to help with their announcement.

Now that we have an online programme there is no need for candidates to hold up a paper form. However, candidates must still do the following at the beginning of their video:

  • Announce their name, subject, grade and pieces or songs
  • Show the opening of their own choice music to the camera
  • Show photo ID if required

All other questions

You can find our Performance Grades qualification specification and syllabuses here.

Performance Grades are available on-demand, so you can choose when to book and submit your exam. There are no booking periods or exam sessions.  You can submit your video as soon as you’ve booked or at any time within the next 28 days. You can only submit a video once, so make sure you select the correct file.

You can record your performance at any time and then submit the video once you’ve booked.

No. We are offering Performance Grades as an additional, alternative way for learners to achieve a graded music exam

Yes – our Performance Grades and the certificates we award have the same value as our existing grades. They are equivalent in demand, recognition and value, but with a different emphasis. They are based on the same repertoire and syllabuses, assessment criteria and quality assurance measures as our existing exams and will be assessed by the same highly-trained examiners.

We’ve created our Performance Grades to provide an alternative to Practical Grades. All our exams offer a framework for motivating and recognising achievement, rather than a curriculum for teaching. With these exams we are giving teachers and learners another option, and the flexibility to choose an exam that works for them.

We still believe that learners should develop a wide range of skills to provide a foundation for musical performance and help them to grow as musicians. These skills include those assessed through our technical, sight-reading and aural tests: technical agility, responding to notation, and hearing and understanding how music works. We will always encourage and support the development of these skills through our books, resources, apps and teacher development work.

We also know that all teachers have their own approaches and will continue to build technical, sight-reading and aural skills into their lessons in the way that best suits their students. When it comes to the ABRSM exam, they can now choose between one that assesses these skills individually in different sections, and one that assesses them holistically by focusing entirely on performance. Strengths in these core areas of musical skill will still be of enormous benefit, and will positively affect the musical outcome in the exam.

We highly value accompanists and continue to advocate for the use of live accompaniment in exams. Live interaction with another musician is enormously important to the development of all-round musicianship and during an exam a skilled accompanist can be responsive and supportive in the way a recording can’t.

Where possible, we would encourage candidates opting for recorded accompaniment to use professional accompanists to create specially-recorded accompaniments instead of using commercial recordings or backing tracks.

We hope that by providing a recorded accompaniment option we are opening up access to exams and encouraging more learners to progress with their music making. In the long term, this may lead to more musicians needing professional accompanists, whether for exams or other musical activities.

Examiners assess all Performance Grade exams in exactly the same way, using the same marking criteria. The choice of accompaniment does not affect the way the exam is assessed, but may affect the candidate’s performance and therefore the marks they receive.

For example, a candidate who has spent months rehearsing with their recorded accompaniment and is completely familiar with it may perform better than a candidate who meets their accompanist for a brief rehearsal shortly before or on the day of their exam. Individual circumstances will affect the musical outcome and this is something for teachers and candidates to think about when deciding what accompaniment to use.

Yes, although we would always encourage live accompaniment at higher grades where possible.

Performing with another musician allows for jointly made interpretive decisions and flexibility and spontaneity in performance, which are important in creating a successful and meaningful performance as well as for musical development. This is particularly the case for certain styles of repertoire and at higher levels.

However, we do believe in making music and exams as widely accessible as possible and finding a suitable and affordable accompanist can be a barrier for many people. So, in some cases a recorded accompaniment may be a better option for a candidate.

Yes, you can.

The exams are marked by members of our highly-trained panel of examiners – the same examiners who assess all our Practical Grades and ARSM exams.

Candidates will achieve success in our performance-focused grades by demonstrating a set of skills taking in performance, communication, interpretation and delivery. They need to achieve their best from their pieces and deliver a sustained performance of a programme that they have devised while showing focus, stamina and effective musical communication across a range of repertoire.

The marking criteria for Performance Grades are available in the qualification specific here.

Yes, Performance Grades 6 to 8 attract the same UCAS point as our Practical Grades at these levels. Find out more.

Yes. The exam content and requirements are the same for face-to-face and digital ARSM exams, but digital exams are assessed from a video. Find out more about ARSM.

Not yet. We hope to be able to offer Performance Grades for Jazz subjects (Grades 1 to 5) in the future.

You can use an upright, grand or digital piano. A digital piano should have a clearly recognisable piano tone (a single piano ‘voice’ should be used throughout), a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including pedals where needed for the chosen repertoire. Pieces may not be altered to suit an instrument (e.g reduced-sized keyboard) and you should take care when choosing repertoire as certain effects cannot be achieved on all digital pianos. While examiners may be aware of particular attributes of an instrument, they will always base their assessment on the overall musical outcome, using our published marking criteria.

The candidate submitting the video must know their ABRSM Contact ID (from their booking) and have an ABRSM account. Once the exam is booked they can then log in to upload and submit their video.

Find out about creating an account and Contact IDs

Learners should choose music that they enjoy, that matches their musical personality, and that they can play confidently. Choosing one piece from each list already gives a breadth of musical content and style. Our newly-arranged and extended lists give learners an ever-wider choice of music from which to build their programmes.

The fourth piece can be another piece from the ABRSM syllabus. Or learners can choose any published piece of a similar level - it should be broadly the same standard (or above) as the repertoire set for the grade being taken. There are plenty of ways to identify suitable music, from looking at exam listings past and present - to the guidance publishers give on their books.

Aim to choose a piece that completes the set of four in a musically satisfying way. Pieces can be presented in any order and the candidate will want to order them according to how they feel the pieces work best as a performance.

We recommend that you re-record the video in full if any of the introduction is missing, such as showing the music for the fourth piece or the candidate’s photo ID. If this is not possible, we will allow a small edit to the introduction section of the video but only to add the missing information. We do not allow any edits to the performance section of the video.

It is very important that the introduction on the video is complete to allow us to assess and process the exam.

Once the submission deadline has passed you won’t be able to upload the video and the candidate will be marked as absent. If you would still like to submit the exam video you will need to book and pay again.

No. You can only upload an exam video once, so please make sure you select the correct file.

You will usually receive your results within a week of submitting your video, subject to quality assurance checks.

Candidates (parents/carers) with an account, will be able to view their results seven days after we have released them to the applicant.

We accept a number of different forms of photo identification which candidates must show in the exam video. You can also download and complete a photo ID form. Find out more

For countries where we ask for National ID number, the photo ID does not need to match the National ID number given for the candidate when booking their exam. For example, if you provided a National ID card number when booking the exam, it is fine for the candidate to show a passport or college photo ID in the exam video.

A series of films offering perspectives and tips on the Performance Grades.

'The Performance as a Whole' - new performance-focused grade exams

Different demands - new performance-focused grade exams

Putting together your Programme - new performance-focused grade exams

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