On 8 March 2023 we are introducing online programme forms for Performance Grades and digital ARSM diplomas. Instead of candidates showing a paper programme form to the camera at the start of the exam recording, the person submitting the video will enter the programme details online. Read our news story to find out how this will affect candidates and what you need to do. Find out more

Online programme forms from 8 March 2023

Yes. The form is available in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Italian and Spanish as well as English. However, please enter programme details as published in our syllabuses or in the publication for own choice repertoire.

  • You can edit the online form until you click ‘submit’ at the bottom of the page.
  • Once you’ve submitted the form you come to the video upload page. If you go back to the online form at this point, it will clear the information you have already entered. You should then re-enter all the programme details.
  • Once you have uploaded and submitted the video you cannot make any changes to the online programme form.

No, mistakes on the online programme won’t affect the marking.

You can use this video from 9 March, but you will also have to complete the online programme form when submitting the video.

No. To help parents or candidates complete the form you could email them the programme details so they can easily copy them into the form.

Yes, at the start of the video before their performance, candidates must still announce their programme, show the opening of their own-choice piece to the camera and show photo ID for Grades 6 to 8.

Yes. It’s a good idea to for candidates to have their programme details on a piece of paper to help with their announcement.

Now that we have an online programme there is no need for candidates to hold up a paper form. However, candidates must still do the following at the beginning of their video:

  • Announce their name, subject, grade and pieces or songs
  • Show the opening of their own choice music to the camera
  • Show photo ID if required

All other questions

Performance Grades - Frequently Asked Questions



You can find our Performance Grades qualification specification and syllabuses here.

You can use an upright, grand or digital piano. A digital piano should have a clearly recognisable piano tone (a single piano ‘voice’ should be used throughout), a touch-sensitive keyboard with full-size weighted keys, and an action, compass and facilities that match those of a conventional acoustic piano, including pedals where needed for the chosen repertoire. Pieces may not be altered to suit an instrument (e.g reduced-sized keyboard) and you should take care when choosing repertoire as certain effects cannot be achieved on all digital pianos. While examiners may be aware of particular attributes of an instrument, they will always base their assessment on the overall musical outcome, using our published marking criteria.


Definitely not! We are offering these remotely-assessed, Performance Grades as an additional, alternative way for learners to achieve a graded music exam. We will begin offering our existing Practical Grades again as soon as circumstances allow us to do this safely and in line with government guidance. This will vary from territory to territory and we will provide updates when we have more information to share. 


This will depend on whether social distancing is still required or not. If social distancing has been lifted, or relaxed enough, our standard accompaniment requirements will apply. This means that all pieces/songs that are published with an accompaniment must be performed with a live accompaniment. Recorded accompaniments of any kind will not be allowed. You can find full guidance in the Performance Grade syllabuses.


If social distancing requirements are in place, we will accept the following:


  • Live accompaniment (including adapted for another instrument) if someone is available to provide this 如果有人能夠提供現場伴奏(包括改編給其他樂器)
  • Unaccompanied performance with short rests ‘played’ as written and several consecutive bars’ rest shortened. 無伴奏演奏,短的休止會按譜‘演奏’,而連續幾小節的休止可縮短。
  • Live accompaniment using video conferencing software such as Skype or Zoom 以視像會議軟件如Skype 或Zoom現場伴奏
  • Pre-recorded accompaniment or commercial backing track 預先錄製的伴奏或商業背景音軌
  • A mix of the above approaches 混合使用以上不同方法
  • In addition, singers have the option to accompany themselves. 此外,歌手可以選擇自彈自唱。

Check our ‘Special COVID-19 arrangements for accompaniment in remotely-assessed exams’ (PDF)

Yes – our Performance Grades and the certificates we award will have the same value as our existing grades. They are equivalent in demand, but with a different emphasis. They are based on the same repertoire and syllabuses, assessment criteria and quality assurance measures as our existing exams and will be assessed by the same highly-trained examiners.  

是 - 我們的等級演奏考試及其所獲頒授的證書將與現行的等級考試地位相同。它們要求的水準相等,但重點有異。兩個考試是基於同一套曲目、考試綱目、評分標準及質量保證,與現行的考試一樣,均由受嚴格訓練的考官作評核。

Candidates will achieve success in our performance-focused grades by demonstrating a set of skills taking in performance, communication, interpretation and delivery. They need to achieve their best from their pieces and deliver a sustained performance of a programme that they have devised while showing focus, stamina and effective musical communication across a range of repertoire.

要成功通過純演奏考試 ,考生須展示一系列的技術包括演奏、音樂傳達、演繹和技巧實現。他們須要通過持續演奏一套自己設定的節目,在不同的曲目中表現出專注力、耐力和有效的音樂傳達以達至最佳表現。

Yes, Performance Grades 6 to 8 will attract the same UCAS point as our Practical Grades at these levels.


It has always been part of our long-term plan to widen our range of qualifications and to provide learners with greater choice in terms of what they present for assessment, and how that assessment takes place. The coronavirus pandemic prompted us to speed up our plans to offer an additional set of graded exams that focus on performance. We have also ensured that they can be assessed remotely through the submission of a recording. 


These performance-focused exams are not a temporary measure and do not replace our existing grades. Instead, they provide an additional way to motivate and inspire learners that gives credit for performance skills. 


For the exam candidates choose and perform four pieces/songs, presented as a continuous programme: at least three pieces from our existing syllabus (one from each list) and one piece of the candidate’s own choice. The own choice piece can be another item from the syllabus at the same grade or from any other published source, as long as the level of difficulty is the same. Full programming requirements, including timings, are given in the relevant syllabus.


Candidates present their pieces in the order they choose and without a break, to create a whole performance that demonstrates their musical tastes, strengths and personality.


Candidates will need to make a continuous video recording of their exam performance and submit this to us for marking by our examiner panel.


The exams will be marked by members of our highly-trained panel of examiners – the same examiners who assess all our existing Practical Grades and ARSM exams.


As with our Practical Grades, a total of 150 marks will be available overall. The four pieces/songs will be marked individually with a maximum of 30 marks for each item. A further 30 marks are then available for the ‘performance as a whole’. Examiners will use our established criteria to mark the pieces – assessing pitch, time, tone, shape and performance. There will then be a separate set of marks for the ‘performance as a whole’, based on similar assessment criteria to those used in our ARSM Diploma Exam. You can find the full assessment criteria in the qualification specification.


The exams will be available initially in the UK and Ireland from the Autumn. We will be gradually rolling out Performance Grades internationally, starting before the end of 2020. We will provide updates by email, on our website and through our social channels as soon as we have more to share on availability.


The exams will be available initially in the UK and Ireland from the autumn. We will be gradually rolling out Performance Grades internationally, starting before the end of 2020. We are working as quickly as possible to finalise dates and make these exams available to candidates, while also making sure they meet our own high standards and those of our regulators.


As these exams form a permanent part of our long-term plan to widen our support for teachers and learners, it’s vital that they match our existing qualifications in terms of quality, rigour and high standards. Achieving this has added some time to the development process, but we believe it’s worth it to ensure we provide the best exam experience for candidates and a qualification that they can be proud of. We recognise the trust placed in us to offer exams that have integrity and that fulfil our reputation as the leading music awarding organisation whose graded exams are used by teachers around the world.


We’ve created our Performance Grades to offer an alternative to our existing Practical Grades. All our exams are designed to offer a framework for motivating and recognising achievement, rather than a curriculum for teaching. With these exams we are giving teachers and learners another option, and the flexibility to choose an exam that works for them.


We still believe that learners should develop a wide range of skills to provide a foundation for musical performance and help them to grow as musicians. These skills include those assessed through our technical, sight-reading and aural tests: technical agility, responding to notation, and hearing and understanding how music works. We will always encourage and support the development of these skills through our books, resources, apps and teacher development work.


We also know that all teachers have their own approaches and will continue to build technical, sight-reading and aural skills into their lessons in the way that best suits their students. When it comes to the ABRSM exam, they can now choose between one that assesses these skills individually in different sections and one that assesses them holistically by focusing entirely on performance. Strengths in these core areas of musical skill will still be of enormous benefit and will positively affect the musical outcome in the exam.


Not yet. We expect to be able to offer Performance Grades for Jazz subjects (Grades 1 to 5) from a date to be announced in 2021.


Yes. Alongside Performance Grade exams at Grades 1 to 8, we will be offering a remotely-assessed ARSM exam with the same syllabus and requirements as our current ARSM.


For a candidate to be able to upload the exam they must know their contact ID (as per the booking) and have registered their online account. If it is the candidate’s first exam, then a new Contact ID will be created at the time of booking. The applicant should enter the Candidate’s email address (or one belonging to a parent/carer) during the booking process. We will then send an email prompting the candidate (or parent/carer) to register their new account in their (the candidate’s) name. This will give them access to the booking made on their behalf and the upload process. If the applicant is using an existing Contact ID for the candidate, the applicant must check with the candidate that they know their contact ID and that the account has been registered so that they have access to the entry and the upload process.

We normally require live accompaniment, as detailed in the relevant syllabuses. However, while social distancing requirements are in place, we are offering flexibility to singers and instrumentalists who must usually have an accompanist (or duet partner) on the day of their exam. There are a number of options available, which we will accept for remotely-assessed exams until at least 31 January 2021. Arrangements beyond this date are subject to review. Check our ‘Special COVID-19 arrangements for accompaniment in remotely-assessed exams’ (PDF)

'The Performance as a Whole’ - new performance-focused grade exams

Different demands - new performance-focused grade exams

Putting together your Programme - new performance-focused grade exams

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