COVID-19 - latest exam updates

A message from our Chief Executive – our future plans

Music Theory results – update 6 April

Exam updates

Update 30 June – Performance Grades and Practical and Music Theory exams

We’ve now published further information about our remotely-assessed Performance Grades. We will be gradually rolling out Performance Grades internationally, starting before the end of 2020, following their initial launch in the UK. We’ll let you know more about future exam dates as soon as we can.  In the meantime, you can find out more about these exams here.

Unfortunately, there is still uncertainty around how and when we can begin to offer face-to-face Practical exams. We recognise that the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic will continue to disrupt travel and large gatherings of candidates. We are monitoring the situation and doing all we can to get these exams up and running again. However, everything we do must be in line with guidance from both your government and the UK government to ensure the safety of learners, teachers, examiners and staff. 

We are also accelerating our plans to move Music Theory assessment at Grades 1 to 5 to an online exam, instead of a paper-based one. In August we will be piloting an online Music Theory exam in the UK. This is a first step before we can offer online assessments at Grades 1 to 5 in more countries. Grade 6 to 8 Music Theory exams will continue as paper-based assessments for everyone, in all countries.  We will share more information about our Music Theory plans in the week beginning 13 July.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work out the best options for the safe delivery of our assessments. We will provide updates on the availability of all our exams and assessments as soon as we can. 

Update 11 June – remotely-assessed, performance-focused exams

We’ve answered some more of your questions about these forthcoming graded exams, which we’re launching initially in the UK. Click here to read the latest updates.  

Update 26 May – remotely assessed graded music exams (UK)

In August, we are aiming to launch performance-focused graded music exams in the UK that will be assessed remotely, based on a recorded submission. These remotely-assessed exams will be available in the UK only to begin with. We will then start to roll them out in stages to learners in other countries later in 2020. You can find out more about these remotely assessed exams here.

Update 6 May - A message from our Chief Executive – our future plans

At ABRSM we appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected you and we’re working hard on solutions to ensure you gain your qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

On 6 May we announced that we would be making special arrangements to offer adapted exams to learners in the UK. These exams are available to learners in their final year of schooling who were expecting to take Grade 6 to 8 (Practical or Music Theory) or an ARSM by summer 2020, and to have their results in time to provide UCAS points for university entrance. The offer of an adapted exam is an exceptional and temporary measure for this specific group of learners. To ensure we can meet the needs of these learners we are restricting these exams to UK candidates to begin with. We will then consider offering them to other candidates and in other countries, and will provide an update on this as soon as we can.

We also announced that we will be offering online practical graded music exams, with a focus on performance, to learners in the UK from August. The exams will be for all instruments and grades (Grades 1-8 and ARSM) and will use our existing repertoire and resources. To begin with, these exams will be available in the UK only. We will then begin rolling them out in stages to learners in other countries later in the year.

The provision of online exams is a new and very exciting step for us and, we hope, for our community of teachers and learners too. I completely understand that many of you will be disappointed that you cannot use these online exams sooner. However, by launching them in the UK with a limited number of candidates, we can make sure that the processes and systems that support the exams are effective and run smoothly.

In the meantime, we are reviewing our Music Theory offer while continuing to plan for the resumption of face-to-face exams in appropriate venues and under strict management of social distancing requirements, once circumstances allow. Please continue to check our website for the latest information.

Whether you are a teacher, learner or parent, you matter to us, and we will continue to do everything we can to support your musical journeys.

Take care and stay safe!

Michael Elliott

Chief Executive, ABRSM

Update 9 April - An update from the Chief Executive

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on all our lives, the sheer imagination of musicians as they explore different ways of making music - alone, with others, and through their rapidly-adapted teaching - is a daily source of inspiration for me.

Whether it’s the weekly Friday Night Club from the RSNO, featuring exclusive, previously unseen performances, or Jess Gillam’s Virtual Scratch Orchestra, it’s amazing to see how musicians and musical organisations are pushing back boundaries  and finding new ways to communicate their art and connect with their audiences.

Some of these inspiring ideas are featured on Play On, just one of the ways in which ABRSM is working to keep you connected and itself doing things differently in these extraordinary times.

We’re working hard in other ways too. The disappointment experienced by ABRSM candidates whose exams were cancelled in recent weeks has made our work to develop remote assessments and online measures of musical progress even more urgent than it was before.

Since the pandemic emerged we’ve diverted resources from other projects and stepped up our efforts to develop effective alternatives for teachers and learners, finding the best way in which ABRSM can continue to support musical progress in the utterly changed landscape in which we find ourselves.

Working within the framework of recently issued guidance from our regulators, we are fast developing ways to adapt our existing assessments for these exceptional circumstances so we can again offer exams to learners around the world.

Some of this is about finding online solutions, some of it is about looking differently at certain elements of our practical exams, such as accompaniment and supporting tests. These complex issues require thought and careful planning if we are to continue to offer high quality assessments that meet the high standards you rightly expect from ABRSM.

You have told us that you need robust, comprehensive digital solutions that allow us to award a fully recognised qualification. The challenge for us is to use our own creativity to develop a response that is timely and able to support musical progression during this extraordinary era, while avoiding over simplification and hasty promises. Our aim is to develop remote assessments that are fit for purpose and that give you what you want.

Striking this balance is one of our greatest priorities and we are working at pace to bring you the best solution. We seek to meet the immediate needs of learners looking to progress to further or higher education later this year. At the same time, we are looking beyond the current pandemic to offer new online and live assessments to complement our existing ones.

I know the whole ABRSM team is genuinely excited about the opportunities that online assessment can, when delivered effectively, unlock for teachers and learners. We will tell you more about our plans as soon as we can.  In the meantime, I hope music will give you moments of relaxation, sustenance, comfort and enjoyment in these uncertain times. If you haven’t explored Play On yet, do take a look and see what resources are there to help you.

Right now, more than ever, we would love to share your musical journeys, hear about what is inspiring you and find ways to celebrate the thing we all value so much - music.

Michael Elliott

Chief Executive, ABRSM

Where to find sheet music

Many retailers are continuing to provide sheet music, books, instruments and accessories through online or mail order services. View our shops list here.

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