Music Exams

What’s the point of exams?

While exams aren’t essential, they’re a useful way to judge your progress as you learn your instrument. Some music exams are taken all over the world and you can earn internationally recognised qualifications.

There are 8 grades. Depending on your instrument and how much you practise, you can probably expect to take your Grade 1 exam within a year or two of starting lessons. Grade 5 is roughly equivalent to GCSE standard, and Grade 8 is about A level standard. You can get UCAS points for Grades 6-8.

If you want to think about music as a career, you should probably expect to be about Grade 8 standard when you leave school.

When can I take my exams?

Your teacher will advise when you are ready to take your exams. Exams take place near the end of every term, although you’ll need to register early – usually by the first few weeks of term. Check with your teacher for details, as this varies each term.

What if the dates don’t work for me?

Let us know when we enter you if there are any particular dates you cannot do your exams. Once you have been entered, the ABRSM will set the exam dates and times, which cannot be changed. If you cannot make your exam, you will need to enter again in a new term. These fees cannot be refunded. 

How do I find an accompanist?

If your child requires an accompanist, Newham Music will provide one for ABRSM exams only. If you require an exam to be taken outside the provided dates and require an accompanist, you will be charged for their time.

Can I use photocopies of the music?

No. You must purchase the original exam books and pieces. 

What if I’m sick on the day?

If your child cannot take the exam due to sickness, please advise us before the scheduled exam time and obtain a medical certificate. Please forward it directly to Newham Music so that we can send it to the exam board. They may then give you a refund but which will not exceed 75% of the entry fee.

What happens in the exams?

You’ll play three short pieces, some technical exercises (typically scales and arpeggios) and answer some tests of musicianship (or ‘aural’ tests). 

They provide a test of all-round musicianship, not just the ability to play pieces.

I’ve taken my exam – when will I find out the results?

Results have to be checked and monitored before certificates are printed and sent out so it may be up to three weeks before your results are available. 

Jack Petchey FoundationNational Foundation For Youth MusicArts Council England