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Latest exam updates

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Practical Session 2 Update - India

We appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected learners and we are working hard on solutions to ensure learners can gain their qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

However, on the basis of official and local advice we will be cancelling Session 2 Practical exams scheduled for October-December. We are very sorry for the impact on teachers and candidates and we will continue to monitor the situation. Thank you for your loyalty and support while these restrictions remain in place.

We will be gradually rolling out remotely-assessed Performance Grades https://gb.abrsm.org/en/performancegrades/ internationally and will share exam dates and booking periods soon.

Fair access guidelines for blind or partially sighted candidates

These guidelines contain information for candidates who are blind or partially sighted. They detail the access arrangements and reasonable adjustments that ABRSM offer for our Practical, Diploma and Music Theory exams.

Before reading these guidelines, we recommend you also read our Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments Policy, which can be found at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.

ABRSM established these provisions for candidates who are blind or partially sighted in consultation with RNIB who have also provided valuable suggestions for the revision of these guidelines.

You should review the information in these guidelines before making an exam entry.

If you have questions or specific requirements that are not covered by these guidelines, please contact ABRSM’s Access Coordinator.

Typical reasonable adjustments for candidates who are blind or partially sighted include:

  • Memory tests in place of the Sight-reading test
  • Extra time to prepare the Sight-reading test
  • Extra time in Music Theory exams
  • In addition, for candidates who are blind or partially sighted, we include three minutes of extra time to enable candidates to familiarise themselves with the exam room and to prepare for the exam.

All ABRSM examiners are provided with basic information about visual impairment and how this may impact candidates taking a music exam. In addition, you are welcome to supply any further information you think would be helpful for the examiner to know in advance.

It is important to understand that while we are able to make provisions for the administration of the exam, e.g. extra time or alternative tests, we are not able to make any concessions in the marking – all candidates will be treated equally.

Please ensure you select the most relevant access provision when making your exam entry.

It is important that you select the relevant access provision for each exam even if you have requested access arrangements or reasonable adjustments previously.

If none of the access provisions cover your specific needs or you have questions about the reasonable adjustments to which you are entitled, please contact ABRSM’s Access Coordinator as early as possible before the entry deadline.

Please note that ABRSM is unable to provide reasonable adjustments where we are notified after the exam entry has been made.

In order to grant reasonable adjustments, ABRSM requires appropriate supporting evidence. Please refer to our Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments Policy for further information.

Sight-reading for blind candidates

Blind candidates may choose between one of the following two options:

Braille memory test: This test consists of a short passage transcribed into Braille which will be given to the candidate to study in a set time. The candidate will then be asked to perform the test from memory immediately following the preparation time. The preparation times are as follows:

  • Initial - Grade 3: 5 minutes
  • Grades 4 and 5: 10 minutes
  • Grades 6 and 7: 15 minutes
  • Grade 8: 20 minutes

Specimen Braille tests are available from RNIB and their contact details can be found at the end of these guidelines.

Aural Repetition  test: This test consists of a short passage played three times on the piano by the examiner, who will first play and name the key-chord and starting note, and indicate the tempo before asking the candidate to repeat the passage on his/her instrument. Candidates will be given 15 seconds to try out the test following the second and final playings.

Subject specific information

Organ

At Grades 6–8, candidates will be required to repeat the test transposed up or down a tone or semitone, as requested by the examiner.

Horn and Trumpet

Candidates will not be required to do any transposition tests at Grades 6–8.

Harpsichord

Candidates will not be required to complete a figured bass realisation at grades 4-8.

Singing

Braille memory test: Candidates may opt to attempt this section either as a memory test or by performing directly from the Braille, and the examiner should be informed which option they have chosen at the start of the exam. At Grades 1–5, candidates will be given two versions of the Braille score: a full Braille score and a version with just pitch and rhythm, with all performance directions removed. At Grades 6–8, in addition to the two versions of the Braille score, candidates will also be given a copy of the lyrics on their own.

The tests for Initial - Grade 5 do not have lyrics and may be sung to any vowel sound (with or without a consonant) or to sol-fa. The tests for Grades 6–8 have clear, simple and singable texts in English; candidates may use these or they may sing to any vowel sound or sol-fa, if they prefer.

Aural Repetition  test: This test will be accompanied by the examiner who will play the vocal line, together with its own accompaniment, three times, Candidates can sing the vocal line to ‘la’ or to any other vowel sound.

Sight-reading for partially sighted candidates

Partially sighted candidates may request Sight-reading tests in large or modified print. You may read and play the test at the same time (with extra time to prepare), or memorise the test. The time available to memorise the test is as follows:

  • Initial - Grade 3: 5 minutes
  • Grades 4 and 5: 10 minutes
  • Grades 6 and 7: 15 minutes
  • Grade 8: 20 minutes

Large print tests

ABRSM’s default for large print tests is a 14mm stave on cream paper. This equates to roughly a 200% enlargement.

Specimen large print tests are available from Allegro Music and their contact details can be found at the end of these guidelines.

Modified print tests

Rather than a straightforward enlargement, ABRSM can make further modifications based on your preferences, for example, larger note-heads and beaming, or a larger font for performance directions. 

If you require modified stave notation, you should send a covering letter at the time of entry along with a sample of the notation required. Please include details of all typographical specifications. You can email musical examples written in Sibelius or MuseScore to  [email protected]

We can produce tests on either A4 or A3, but you will need to consider how the font and staff size will impact on the paper size needed. Further information on modified stave notation (MSN) is published by the UK Association for Accessible formats (UKAAF) and their contact details can be found at the end of these guidelines.

Sight-reading tests on coloured paper

If you require tests on coloured paper you should indicate this by contacting the access coordinator before the published entry deadline. You will need to post three sheets of the required paper to ABRSM at the time of entry.

Use of large print or modified scores in exams

You are welcomed to use your own large print or modified print copies in the exam provided you bring the original with you. This provision is made under the Code of Fair Practice published by the MPA, which allows you to make an accessible copy for your own use. No prior permission is required.

Aural tests

If you request a large or modified staff notation sight-reading test, you will receive a large print or modified copy of aural test B at Grades 4–8.

If you request a Braille memory test or Aural Repetition  in place of the Sight-reading, the aural tests will be administered as follows:

Grades 4 and 5

Test B, requiring candidates to sing from score in free time (five notes at Grade 4 and six notes at Grade 5), is conducted as a ‘Talking Score'. The examiner will first play and name the key-chord and tonic and will then read out each note in turn, indicating whether the pitch rises or falls, for the candidate to sing back.

Grades 6, 7 and 8

If you request a Braille memory test, Test B, requiring candidates to sing a short melody from score with an accompaniment played by the examiner, is presented in Braille music giving the melody line only, including tempo markings, dynamics and phrasing. A brief description of the relevant features of the accompaniment will be given in literary Braille. You will be given approximately 1 minute to study the test.

If you request an Aural Repetition  test, or if you do not have the necessary Braille music reading skills required for this test, the test will follow the following format:

Grade 6:

  • The examiner will play the single line melody 3 times with a 30 second break in between the first two playings. During this time the candidate may try out any part of the test.
  • After the third and final playing, the candidate will be asked to sing the melody with the piano accompaniment played by the examiner.

Grade 7:

  • The examiner will play the upper part of a two-part phrase 3 times with a 30 second break in between the first two playings. During this time the candidate may try out any part of the test.
  • After the third and final playing, the candidate will be asked to sing the melody with the lower part played by the examiner.

Grade 8:

  • The examiner will play the lower part of a two-part phrase 3 times with a 30 second break in between the first two playings. During this time the candidate may try out any part of the test.

After the third and final playing, you will be asked to sing the melody with the upper part played by the examiner.

Blind candidates

Blind candidates may choose between one of the following two options:

Braille question paper

Question papers will be supplied in Braille and answers will be accepted in Braille. You are responsible for producing answers in Braille or in a standard file format using your own equipment that does not require mains electricity.

The following extra time allowances apply:

  • Grades 1-3: 30 minutes
  • Grades 4 and 5: 40 minutes
  • Grades 6-8: 1 hour.

Amanuensis

If you are unable to access printed material or write down your answers, you may use an amanuensis to act as a reader, a scribe, or both. Please review the information in our guidelines for candidates using an amanuensis.

If you require an amanuensis, you must contact the Theory team by phone on +44 (0)20 7636 75400 or send them an email prior to entry. You must include a covering letter with the entry form.

The following extra time allowances apply:

  • Grades 1-3: 30 minutes
  • Grades 4 and 5: 40 minutes
  • Grades 6-8: 1 hour.

Partially sighted candidates

Partially sighted candidates may request exam papers in large or modified print.

Large print question paper:

The standard enlargement of Music Theory exam papers is A4 – A3 on white paper.

Modified print question paper: If you require a theory paper with modified staff notation and text, please include details of all relevant specifications required. Musical examples written in Sibelius or Musescore can be emailed to the Access Coordinator.

Please consider how the font and staff size will impact on the paper size needed and the practicalities of working the paper in the exam.

All requests for modified papers to match exact specifications should be made at the time of entry to ensure we are able to produce your question paper in time for the exam.

Coloured papers

You may request a Theory paper printed on blue, green, pink or yellow paper. If you require this, you should indicate this by contacting the access coordinator at the time you make the exam entry.

The following extra time allowances apply:

  • Grades 1-3: 30 minutes
  • Grades 4 and 5: 40 minutes
  • Grades 6-8: 1 hour.

If we cannot meet your needs within the graded exam system, you may wish to take the Performance Assessment.

In this assessment, you can play your own choice of repertoire and will receive a written report containing constructive comments and advice from an examiner.

There is no pass or fail for this assessment, and no assessment criteria. You should include a written statement with the entry detailing your specific needs (this is essential if the candidate is under 18) so that the information can be passed on to the examiner.

As Jazz exams are designed to be accessible for candidates to attempt entirely by ear, it is assumed that blind candidates will attempt the exam in this way unless we are specifically informed otherwise. However, you may still request the quick study test to be provided in either large notation, modified staff notation or Braille.

We can provide relevant tests in Braille if you select this on the entry form. You should email the Access Coordinator at the time of entry with details of which instrument you will use and which options you will take. If you do not read Braille music, please contact the Access Coordinator to discuss suitable alternative arrangements before making your exam entry.

We can provide relevant tests in large or modified print if you select this on the entry form. You should email the Access Coordinator at the time of entry with details of which instrument you will use and which options you will take. Please also include details of your preferred layout. You can email musical examples written in Sibelius or MuseScore to: [email protected].

ARSM involves no supporting tests or anything that requires candidates to respond to questions from the examiner, so alternative tests or extra-time allowances for candidates who are blind or partially sighted are not normally needed. However, if you have access requirements that the examiner should be aware of, please contact the access coordinator at the time of entry with the relevant details.

Blind candidates may choose between a Braille or Aural memory Quick Study test. This test can be taken at any time during the exam.

Braille Quick Study memory test: you will be given a short piece of music transcribed into Braille to study, with a time allowance as indicated below. You may, if you wish, use the piano as well as your own instrument during your preparation time. You will be given a full Braille score and a second version with just pitch and rhythm.

Singing candidates taking the Braille memory Quick Study

You may opt to take the Quick Study either as a memory test including lyrics, or reading directly from the Braille, without lyrics.

If you choose lyrics, the usual choice of English or Italian lyrics will be offered. You will be given a full Braille score, including the lyrics and accompaniment, a copy of the lyrics only and a copy of the melody only.

If you choose to read directly from the Braille, you will not be required to incorporate the lyrics and can sing the vocal line to ‘la’ or to any other vowel sound.

As there are no specimen tests at Diploma level, candidates should use ABRSM syllabus material at Grade 6 for DipABRSM, Grade 7 for LRSM or Grade 8 for FRSM.

The following extra time allowances apply:

  • Braille Memory Quick Study: 30 minutes
  • Aural Repetition Quick Study: 15 minutes

Aural Repetition Quick Study test: You will be given a short piece of music recorded onto CD to study, with a time allowance as indicated above. The test will be recorded on the instrument being assessed. After the preparation time, you will be required to perform the test from memory.

Singing candidates taking the Aural Repetition Quick Study

You will be required to incorporate the lyrics in your performance of the test and will be given the usual choice of singing in either Italian or English. You should confirm your language preferences at the time of entry so that the appropriate test can be recorded. You will be provided with a full recording of the score, a recording of the lyrics only, a recording of the melody sung to ‘la’ with the accompaniment and a recording of the melody including the lyrics. You are responsible for providing your own CD player which should be familiar to you, reliable, portable, have a sufficiently long mains lead and be quick to set up. Further information can be provided on request from the Access Coordinator.

Partially sighted candidates may request a Quick Study test in large or modified print.

You may choose to take this test as either a Quick Study or as a memory test with the relevant extra time allowance indicated below.

Large print Quick Study

ABRSM’s default for large print tests is a 14mm stave on cream paper.

Modified print Quick Study

Rather than a straightforward enlargement, ABRSM can make further modifications based on your preferences, for example, larger note-heads and beaming, or a larger font for performance directions. 

If you require modified stave notation, you should send a covering letter at the time of entry along with a sample of the notation required. Please include details of all typographical specifications. You can email musical examples written in Sibelius or MuseScore to [email protected]

We can produce tests on either A4 or A3, but you will need to consider how the font and staff size will impact on the paper size needed. Further information on modified stave notation (MSN) is published by the UK Association for Accessible formats (UKAAF) and their contact details can be found at the end of these guidelines.

Contact details

Access Coordinator

ABRSM
4 London Wall Place
London
EC2Y 5AU

T +44 (0)20 7467 7342
T 18002 +44 (0)20 7637 2582 (textphone)
E [email protected]

RNIB

T 0303 123 9999
E [email protected]
W www.rnib.org.uk

A full list of ABRSM braille titles available via RNIB can be found by searching rniblibrary.com.

To purchase braille copies, please contact RNIB on the details above.

UK Association for Accessible formats (UKAAF)
W www.ukaaf.org/music

Braille publications available from ABRSM

ABRSM provides braille scores of the piano and flute exam pieces as well as exemplar Music Theory papers. These are available to download from the links below. You will need a Braille printer to emboss them onto paper, or an electronic braille display to read them on a computer.

Hard copies of these publications may be purchased from Golden Chord:

T +44 (0)981 259918

E [email protected]
W www.golden-chord.com

Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018

Braille files for Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018 (38 cells wide and 28 lines deep) can be downloaded from this website.

Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020

Braille files for Piano Exam Pieces 2019 & 2020 (38 cells wide and 28 lines deep) can be downloaded from this website.

Flute Exam Pieces 2018 & 2021

Braille files for Flute Exam Pieces 2018 & 2021 (38 cells wide and 27 lines deep) can be downloaded from this website.

Theory Papers Grades 1-5

Braille files for 2017 Theory Papers Grades 1-5 (38 cells wide and 27 lines deep) can be downloaded from this website.

Large print publications

For large print editions of ABRSM materials:

Allegro Music
T +44 (0)1747 838500 
E [email protected]

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