ABRSM stands for Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. These exams are musical, rather than instrumental or vocal tests, in which examiners assess the quality of music-making. In this, the candidate should be able to use not only his own instrument but other instruments also. ABRSM is one of the 200 largest charitable organizations in the UK and is ranked based on annual expenditure. In this exam, more than 600,000 candidates take part every year in over 93 countries. ABRSM music theory classes provide a publishing house for music that produces course booklets, sheet music, and exam papers and conducts professional development courses and seminars for teachers.
Benefits of ABRSM Exams:
- The ABRSM exam is held in world-class centers all over the world and the successful candidates are considered to be all-round musicians having interlocking skills needed for each level, respectively. Apart from this, the successful candidates are rewarded with certificates giving them the confidence to practice for higher grade examinations.
- These exams provide a clear objective and direction to all the students who participate in them.
- At the end of the exam, each candidate receives positive and helpful comments from the examiner which helps them in developing their skills.
- The certificates obtained on passing this exam are widely recognized all over the world.
Practical exams: These exams are one of the most commonly taken exams to date and are available for more than 35 instruments. These exams include four different components:
- Set pieces: The student has to play three pre-made pieces that are selected from the current curriculum for instrumentation and grade, usually one piece from each of group’s A, B, and C. Group A includes Baroque and early classical repertoire, Group B includes late classical and romantic, and Group C includes 20th century and contemporary music. In this, each piece is of 30 numbers of which 20 is the passing number.
- Scales: According to the grade of difficulty, various scales, arpeggios, dominant, and diminished 7ths and, only for grades 1–4 (grades 1 and 2 for piano), broken chords are examined. To pass this, 14 marks out of 21 are required.
- Sight-reading: In this, students are given an unseen piece and 30 seconds to prepare, and after those candidates have to play the piece best of their ability. To pass this, 14 marks out of 21 are required.
- Aural: Various exercises are performed by the examiner and require the student to demonstrate skills in listening and analyzing music, such as, clapping or singing a melody. At higher grades, students are expected to comment on the characteristics of a short piece played by the examiner, including dynamism, phrasing, and style, and duration. To pass this, 12 marks out of 18 are required.
The exam is marked out of 150, where 100 is a pass, 120 is a pass with merit, and 130 is a distinction. Students do not need to pass every component of the test: they only need to have an aggregate score above 100 to receive a grade.