On your marks
Mark an ABRSM exam
Welcome to On your marks, a resource that allows you to watch and assess all the elements of an ABRSM graded music exam and compare notes with our Chief Examiner.
Our graded music exams generally consist of three pieces, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, as well as scales & arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests. In each Practical exam 150 marks are available. 100 marks are required to achieve a pass, 120 marks to pass with merit, and 130 marks to pass with distinction.
You can watch and assess each element of the exam in any order, but you will need to watch them all to find out the candidate's overall result. After watching each element, you will be asked what level you think the candidate achieved using our assessment criteria as reference. Our Chief Examiner, John Holmes, will then provide his analysis of the performance.
We hope this resource will help you understand how ABRSM exams are assessed and what our examiners are looking for in a performance.
Select an exam element below to watch and mark:
Scales & arpeggios
Students can develop many aspects of technique through scale practice, including familiarity with the physicality of their instrument or voice, articulation, tone and intonation. Scales and arpeggios also help to develop an understanding of keys, giving confidence when sight-reading, learning new pieces, and performing.
Experiencing a selection of good music is an essential part of musical learning. In preparing for our exams, candidates can choose from a broad list of pieces appropriate to their standard, each presenting its own challenges. Candidates generally perform three pieces in the exam and each is marked independently.
Listening is the basis of all good music making, and developing aural awareness is a fundamental part of any music education. ABRSM aural tests are designed to strengthen the vital connection between listening and performing, and to encourage students to develop their 'inner ear' and ability to hear how music works.
Being able to sight-read is a valuable skill with many benefits. It enables students to explore new pieces with increased confidence and speeds up the learning process. Good sight-reading skills offer the satisfaction of independent musical discovery, as notation on the page is more readily transformed into sound.