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  • Writer's pictureRhona



The exams I enter candidates for are the ABRSM music exams (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.)

The ABRSM hold their exams three times a year.

Exams are taken in February/March, June, and November/December. The current dates are listed on their website.

There is a 'closing date' for each exam period, usually 1-2 months before the exam. Again current dates for this are listed on their website.

There is also a required fee, depending on the level of the exam. For the current rates, please see the ABRSM website.

Pupils wishing to take exams are entered by myself. I initially pay the Exam Board fees on behalf of all my candidates, and issue individual invoices thereafter.

Practical exams are usually held in Palmerston Place Church, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, or St Cuthbert's Parish Church, Lothian Road, Edinburgh.


The ABRSM offer graded practical exams from Grade 1 to 8 and also post-Grade 8 Diplomas.

For Grades 1 - 8 the following are required:

Scales according to the Grade taken. Please see inside cover of the exam pieces book, or scales sheet (this should be in your child's music file).

3 Pieces. One piece is chosen from each list in exam pieces book, A, B & C. There are alternative choices listed on the inside cover. If any of these pieces are chosen, the sheet music for them will need to be purchased separately.

Sight-reading test. The examiner will present the candidate with a short piece of music. 30 seconds is allowed to scan through the music. The candidate then is required to play the music as best they can. Please see ABRSM 'Specimen sight-reading tests' for the Grade taken, for examples.

Aural tests. There are 4 tests per grade. Please see ABRSM 'Specimen Aural tests' book at the required grade for examples. The book comes with an optional CD from which to practice examples if there is nobody to play the tests at home.


If your child is taking an exam, they will have a handout with a comprehensive list of books to help with the above subjects if needed. (This should be in their music file.) You will also find indispensable help on the ABRSM website. The Board also have many Apps on sale which are excellent. Make sure you have lots of time to read all their articles!


The practical exams are marked out of 150, with 100 marks required to pass, 120 marks to gain Merit, and 130 marks to gain Distinction.

The marks are allocated differently depending on which grade is taken. A breakdown of this can be found on ABRSM website, or on the handout 'Hints for Exams', which you should find in your child's music file.

The ABRSM base their marking on 5 elements of musicianship:

  • Pitch

  • Time

  • Tone

  • Shape

  • Performance

More information on how to help achieve this can be found on the ABRSM website and in further blogs and handouts! Please also do feel free to discuss with me.


ABRSM offer theory exams at all levels Grades 1 - 8.

Usually I do not enter pupils for these until Grade 5. If you would like your child to take one of the earlier grades please do ask.

Grade 5 theory has to be passed before Grade 6 practical can be taken.

The syllabus for the Graded theory exams can be found in each individual workbook: ABRSM 'Music Theory in Practice'.

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