Latest exam updates

Performance Grades: Booking for June Performance Grades is open now until 13 May.

Performance Grade exams

We are now offering Performance Grade exams every month. Please check here for dates and fees. We are extending the introductory 15% discount for these exams so that it applies to all remotely-assessed Performance Grade and ARSM exams in 2021. Just enter code ABPG15SG when you book. Please also read our terms and conditions here.

Performance Grades discount: system error

We currently have an error in our systems relating to discount codes. When you add the code your order summary will show that 15% has been added to the total, not taken away. However, the 15% discount will be applied to your booking and the correct total will appear at the top of the next screen before you pay. We're working to fix this and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Singapore office

On government advice, we will be following a more flexible and hybrid way of working. Although working from home is still encouraged, from 12 April we will be able to answer a limited number of calls and applicants can contact us via the Local Contact - ABRSM: Local exam contacts. We will continue to update you when further information is published by Ministry of Manpower.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Go to ARSM index

What is ARSM?

ARSM (Associate of the Royal Schools of Music) is a performance-only diploma. It's an opportunity for you to demonstrate performance skills after Grade 8.

You will perform a 30-minute programme where you are assessed on your musical communication skills, interpretation and technical delivery. There are no written or spoken elements and no scales, sight-reading or aural tests, making it a very accessible exam.

Exams are available worldwide with a new remote-assessment option available from October 2020 (initially in the UK and Ireland). To find out more about our Performance Grades, please visit:

An introduction to ARSM

Repertoire lists and further information about ARSM

Programming requirements

Please note that:

  • The programme should include at least 20 minutes of music chosen from the ARSM repertoire lists below
  • The remaining time (up to 10 minutes) can be filled with own-choice repertoire that is at, or above, ABRSM Grade 8 standard (see guidance for own-choice repertoire)






PianistThis meaningful goal provides the opportunity to demonstrate your performance skills and to have your level of achievement recognised. It gives purpose and direction to post-Grade 8 learning and can also help bridge the gap between Grade 8 and DipABRSM.

ARSM is all about the performance!

ARSM also gives you the opportunity to create and perform your own programme of music for the first time.

Preparing to meet the challenges of a sustained 30-minute programme will help you develop greater technical assurance and instrument control.

If you're successful, you will receive a certificate and can add letters (ARSM) after your name.

The exam is a performance of a 30-minute programme where:

  • at least 20 minutes of music is chosen from the ARSM repertoire list (this is the same list set for DipABRSM);
  • up to 10 minutes of music can be own-choice repertoire (of ABRSM Grade 8 standard or above).

Programmes should be balanced and varied.

The marks for ARSM are allocated as follows:

Maximum marks

Pieces/songs presented


Performance as a whole




Out of the total of 50 marks available, 34 are required for a Pass, 40 for a Merit and 45 for a Distinction.

All candidates receive a mark form showing the examiner’s comments and the marks awarded. 

ARSM is suitable for musicians, of any age, who would like something to work towards after Grade 8. You must have already passed ABRSM Grade 8 Practical or Performance exam or a listed alternative in the instrument you want to take ARSM in.

We accept Grade 8 qualifications from some other exam boards. A list of these can be found in our eligibility to enter section. Similarly, we’ll also accept a Grade 8 in a closely-related instrument.

Please note that:

  • You need to have passed Grade 8 before the closing date for your ARSM entry.
  • There are no time limits on the validity of Grade 8.

We may ask candidates to send us their Grade 8 certificate or other supporting documentation.

ClarinetARSM is available for the following instruments:

  • Keyboard: Piano, Harpsichord, Organ
  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Harp (pedal only)
  • Woodwind: Recorder, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone
  • Brass: Horn, Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn, E♭ Horn, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, Tuba
  • Percussion
  • Singing

This ARSM syllabus is valid from January 2017 until further notice. We have issued an updated syllabus/Qualification Specification dated September 2020 to cover the option to take a remotely-assessed ARSM exam. There are no changes to the 2017 exam content and requirements.

We will post any minor updates at Advance notice of a revised syllabus containing significant changes will be provided on this page. 

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