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Exam services

This customer service statement provides an overview of our exam services. It sets out our aims, our undertakings to you, the customer, and our performance targets. The final section provides details of where to go for further information you may require, including contact details.

Who we are

ABRSM is a charitable company established for the benefit of music education by four Royal Schools of Music in the UK. We offer authoritative and internationally recognised exams that encourage and motivate musicians at all levels by providing goals and measuring progress. We also offer professional development services for teachers and support music education through our extensive catalogue of publications.

Our exam service

We strive for integrity, efficiency, accessibility, openness and excellence in three core areas:

Quality and consistency of assessment

We provide examiners who are trained to deliver reliable and consistent assessments according to clear and published criteria. Our exams are based on thoroughly researched syllabuses and are monitored through rigorous quality-assurance procedures.

The exam experience

We aim to provide a positive exam experience for every candidate by conducting all elements of the exam to the highest possible standards, from the examiner’s conduct of the exam, to the facilities provided, the exam conditions and the welcome provided by the steward.

Administrative support

We provide support throughout the exam process, from initial enquiry, through submitting entries, to results and beyond, and aim for ease, clarity and accessibility in our processes, with information and services provided online wherever possible.

All our activities are conducted in the context of good practice regarding child protection, equal opportunities, accessibility for those with special needs and data protection, as confirmed in our Examination Regulations & Information.

Before the exam

Our aim:

To make the process of preparing for an exam straightforward by providing teachers, candidates and parents with clear, up-to-date information about exam requirements.

Details

Information on exams

Our syllabuses are based on extensive consultation and make use of readily available repertoire. The syllabuses are reviewed and refreshed regularly and further details concerning the exam requirements are presented clearly in the Examination Regulations and Information. Help and guidance is also provided in the booklet These Music Exams, through our house magazine Libretto, our website, and through the provision of seminars for teachers.

How to obtain exams information

The syllabuses, Regulations, These Music Exams, and Libretto are all widely available, both through our website and as free-of-charge publications from local music retailers. We also publish and sell exam-related volumes, including repertoire books and other support materials. Guidelines outlining the arrangements that apply for candidates with access needs are available direct from ABRSM and through this website.

Exam entry

Our aim:

To offer entry options that cater for all candidates, to provide flexibility about where and when exams can be taken, and to timetable exams in the most efficient way so that the highest possible number of candidates can take their exam at the time they prefer.

Details

Exam venues

For practical exams (i.e. music performance) where possible we provide a choice about where to take an exam (at a local exam centre run by ABRSM or at premises provided by a school or teacher) and a range of choices about when exams may be taken. For music theory exams we provide local exam centres and the option for schools to hold exams on their own premises.

Making your entry

In the UK and Ireland, entries may be made online or by post and there is a choice of payment options. Exam periods and closing dates are published annually six months in advance and details about entries, dates and fees are given on the printed entry form, which is also downloadable from our website.

Outside the UK and Ireland entries are usually submitted to the Representative and online entry is available in some cases. Exam periods and closing dates are published annually in the respective Dates and Fees leaflet for each country.

Exam date and notification of appointments

The dates and times of individual practical exams are confirmed as soon as possible after the timetables have been fixed, with notification no later than two weeks before the exam date in the UK. Every effort is made to offer an alternative to candidates where the original appointment clashes with another important commitment. In the UK a partial refund of the entry fee on medical or compassionate grounds is made to candidates unable to sit an exam. In International centres a re-entry voucher may be issued allowing the candidate to enter again within the next year.

The exam

Our aim:

To achieve the highest possible standards in all elements of the conduct of each exam in order to provide a positive experience and a fair assessment.

Details

Examiners are trained to apply standards consistently, to conduct exams fairly, to write mark forms with positive and helpful comments, and to treat candidates professionally and sympathetically. The quality of their work is regularly and rigorously monitored.

The exam environment

A suitable exam environment is provided for the practical exams, including a waiting room or area for candidates (and their escorts/accompanists) and an exam room with a satisfactory piano which is, where possible, out of hearing of the waiting room.

Wherever possible, an additional room or area where candidates may spend a few moments warming up is made available. Where there is no warm-up room, guidance about warming up silently and the opportunity to warm up for a few moments at the start of the exam are offered.

For the music theory exams, a suitable environment is provided, including a quiet exam room that is properly lit, heated and ventilated, with tables that allow reasonable spacing of candidates.

Monitoring procedures for exam centres

All arrangements and facilities at ABRSM exam centres are regularly monitored, primarily by our examiners. Where exams are taken at premises provided by a teacher or school, full guidance is supplied about the facilities, conditions and arrangements that must be in place.

At ABRSM exam centres, a steward or invigilator oversees the exams to ensure that candidates are welcomed and put at their ease. Information about the steward’s or invigilator’s role is provided to those holding exams on their own premises.

After the exam

Our aim:

To provide notification of exam results as soon as possible after our checking, quality assurance and recording processes have been completed; to operate a fair and open complaints and appeals procedure; to encourage feedback about any element of the service we offer; and to respond to enquiries promptly and courteously.

Details

Quality assurance

Every mark form is checked for accuracy and presentation, and additional checks on a sample of mark forms are made every session for quality assurance. Queries arising from these checks are pursued and resolved promptly, wherever possible before mark forms and certificates are issued.

Results timeline

In the UK and Ireland results are issued between two and four weeks after the exam date for practical exams, six weeks after the exam date for theory exams and eight weeks after the exam date for diplomas.

In International centres results are issued between three and six weeks after the exam date for practical exams, eight weeks after the exam date for theory exams and within eight weeks for Diplomas.

Duplicate certificates and past results search

We provide a duplicate certificate service and a mechanism for confirming past results. Any fee payable is published in the Examination Regulations and Information.

Queries, complaints and feedback

We aim to acknowledge all formal complaints, enquiries and appeals within three working days. Following investigation and any action that may be taken as a result of this, a reply is sent within four weeks.

We invite comments about our services through general feedback, website forums and questionnaires, and we take this feedback into account when adapting, developing and extending our services.

Telephone, email or written enquiries are answered promptly, with an initial acknowledgement when immediate reply is not possible and a full reply in all cases within four weeks.

Further information about our exams

Published information

Full details of our exams and assessments are given in three key documents:

Syllabuses

One for each subject or subject group, published six months before coming into effect and containing essential information about exam requirements.

Examination Regulations & Information

Two editions of our Examination Regulations are available - the UK & Ireland edition, and the International edition (supplemented by a Dates and Fees leaflet for each country).

These are published annually and provide up-to-date information about exam dates, entry fees and charges for exam-related services.

You will also find your local Representatives’ and ABRSM’s contact details here, plus the terms and conditions under which our assessments operate, our policies and the responsibilities of those entering candidates for our exams.

These Music Exams

A guide for candidates, teachers and parents, including the criteria for assessment used by ABRSM examiners, answers to frequently asked questions, and advice on matters arising before, during and after the exam.

These free documents are widely available from Honorary Local Representatives, International Representatives, most music retailers and direct from ABRSM’s office in London.

 

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