In their own words…

ABRSM is The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and a global music education charity. At the core of everything we do is the belief that music enriches lives. Building on our 135-year heritage, we offer face-to-face and digital exams, sheet music, recordings, apps and courses for students and teachers across the world.

Four Royal Schools of Music are members of ABRSM, forming a partnership of five organisations dedicated to inspiring musical achievement.

As a charity our donations encompass a range of grants, scholarships, awards, prizes and bursaries, for organisations and individuals. All promote music education and support achievement, progression, creativity, diversity, inclusion, sustainability and leadership in music education in the UK and globally. 

What We Offer

Our assessment pathways inspire, challenge and recognise progress, helping learners to gain skills that will enhance their life-long love of music and to share this with others.

Assessments – Face to face:

Practical Grades:
• Piano: Initial Grade and Grades 1 to 8
• Jazz Piano: Grades 1 to 5
• Practical Musicianship: Grades 1 to 8
• ARSM diploma: post Grade 8 performance-only diploma

Advanced diplomas
Available at three levels for Music Performance, Music Direction and Instrumental/Vocal Teaching:
• Diploma of the ABRSM (DipABRSM)
• Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM)
• Fellowship of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM)

Other assessments
• Prep Test: for beginners
• Performance Assessment: for all levels

Assessments – Digital

Performance Grades
• Piano Initial Grade and Grades 1 to 8
• ARSM post Grade 8 performance-only diploma

Music Theory

Grades 1 to 5 – online exam 
Take an exam anywhere, anytime. Our new ‘on demand’ online Music Theory exams give you greater flexibility to take an exam wherever and whenever you want!

Grades 6 to 8 – paper-based exam
Paper-based exams for advanced Music Theory students.

Supporting Publications

ABRSM is one of the UK’s largest music publishers, with over 1,200 books in print. We aim to provide publications to support the exam journey for every subject and instrument that we assess. We also publish an extensive catalogue of varied repertoire. 

Our publications are available from music retailers worldwide as well as from the ABRSM Online Shop. 

Practical Grade and Performance Grade books and audio

Graded repertoire books
These books include a wide range of music to enrich learning and playing. Pieces are carefully selected to ensure you can choose music at just the right level. The books often feature current and past syllabus pieces as well as providing a great source of repertoire for the Performance Grade own-choice piece.

Beginner books
Our Piano Star series includes books to inspire young pianists and help them develop their musical skills

Books to help build skills
Two series of books to support learners with their sight-reading and improve familiarity and facility with scales and arpeggios. These books follow a creative and holistic approach and promote the development of all-round musicianship skills.

Music Theory 

  • Sample Papers and Model Answers
  • Discovering Music Theory: workbooks and answer books

Digital Resources
Award-winning apps and web resources to support music learning.

  • Music Theory Trainer Grades 1 to 5
  • Piano Practice Partner
  • Piano Scales Trainer Grades 1 to 5
  • Piano Sight Reading Trainer Grades 1 to 5
  • Aural Trainer, Grades 1 to 5
  • Speedshifter

Teacher Development
Becoming a Better Music Teacher: our free online course, provided through FutureLearn, is for all teachers whether starting a career or refreshing their skills.

Our Recent News

Online Music Theory – now available on demand
Grades 1 to 5 exams are now available anytime, anywhere!

Performance Grades – new grade added
Our digital assessments now include Initial Performance Grade as well as Performance Grades 1 to 8 and the ARSM diploma. 

Recent Publications

The Piano Syllabus

The ABRSM Piano Syllabus can be downloaded here.

“Looking beyond questions of structure and progression, what we have here is a syllabus brimming with great piano music, from established favourites to sparkling new pieces, offering both happy reacquaintance and novel discovery.”

Read the full Syllabus Review here

“The new ABRSM technical requirements are very significantly easier and lighter than those of the Trinity College and LCM boards at this point… the syllabus as a whole is starting to feel broken as an educational tool.”

Read the full ABRSM Piano Scales review here.

User Feedback

User Feedback: 25 reviews
Average Rating: 3.8 stars

5 Stars: 8 readers
4 Stars: 9 readers
3 Stars: 3 readers
2 Stars: 5 readers

The following selection of comments provide a balanced selection from those received.
If you have used this board in the last 18 months and wish to leave your own comment, please do so at the bottom of the page. Thank you!

“I completed a Grade 1 Performance Exam during lockdown. I think the syllabus was fair and enjoyable, it was easy to enter the exam and submit the video. The results came back quickly, less than a week in fact, with the certificates following not long after.

In all I would say it’s been an enjoyable experience which I’ll be doing again, and again. I’ve chosen to do both traditional and performance exams going forward. Only point I would add for consideration was it was not 100% clear what was expected from the video, for example, how long to leave between pieces and so forth.”

David Pearce, Wolverhampton (5 stars)

“Many of my piano students like the online performance option, particularly the ‘own-choice’ fourth piece. Marking is efficient, entry is reasonably straightforward. I have noticed examiners comments are slightly more critical than their marks indicate.”

JS, Kent (4 stars)

“Generally a very well-rounded syllabus, encouraging a wide-range of different styles of music throughout history. However, the latest syllabus has dumbed down the scale requirements.”

Adam, Scotland (4 stars)

“A renowned international board with a strong heritage but falling behind in teacher and pupil expectations in recent years. Customer service is hard to reach and responses are slow.

Whilst I haven’t had issues with the booking system, their marking and comments are inconsistent and impersonal. Comments are often lifted from the marking criteria with little constructive feedback or encouragement. It is difficult to tally comments with marks and often the feedback is demotivating for teachers and pupils.”

R, London (3 stars)

“I have found the customer service appalling. Every time I have tried to enter candidates, there are problems with the system which have taken hours of my time. Contacting them has been impossible. Their systems and customer interface are clearly not fit for purpose, when up to about 3 years ago, they used to work like clockwork. I feel this situation started way before the pandemic, and that it should not be used as an excuse.

The Performance Grades by video are a good idea, but the weighting of the performance as a whole section is far too heavy, and I feel the marks in that section are duplicating what’s already been marked in the pieces. Refinement of these video exams is urgently needed, as the mark-form comments I’ve received from them are poor: mis-spellings, badly punctuated, and often using language which is like a riddle to unpick the meaning out of.

I hope ABRSM will get back to the reliable, high-quality exam experience that it used to be.”

EC, West Yorks (2 stars)

Trinity College London
RSL Awards

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6 thoughts on “ABRSM”

    1. Thank you Sue! Yes, it was quite a job collating it – but again, thanks to all who provided feedback including yourself, and to the personnel of the five boards who committed to this effort 🙂

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