ABRSM Performance Grades Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments

These guidelines are for candidates with specific needs wishing to take a Digital Performance Grade or a digital ARSM Diploma.

Before reading these guidelines, we recommend you also read our Access Policy, which can be found at www.abrsm.org/specificneeds.

Please review the information in these guidelines before making an exam booking to determine whether a Performance Grade or ARSM is the most appropriate qualification for you. It is important to understand that we are not able to make any concessions in the marking – all candidates will be treated equally.

If you have questions or specific requirements that are not covered by these guidelines, please contact ABRSM’s Access Coordinator.

It is important that you select the relevant access option on the online booking form for each exam. You should do this even if you have requested access arrangements or reasonable adjustments previously.

If none of the access options cover your specific needs or you have questions about the reasonable adjustments to which you are entitled, please contact ABRSM’s Access Coordinator as early as possible before the booking deadline.

Please note that ABRSM is unable to provide reasonable adjustments where we are notified after the exam booking has been made.

In order to grant reasonable adjustments, ABRSM requires appropriate supporting evidence. Please refer to our Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments Policy for further information.

ABRSM is aware that you may need to disclose information that is personal and sensitive. To know how we handle your information, please read our privacy policy and information for candidates with specific needs.

Written comments: Marks will always reflect the standard of your performance. However, examiners will aim to avoid comments that may draw undue attention to your specific needs and any reasonable adjustments.

Introducing yourself and your programme: If you are unable to introduce yourself and your programme, or hold up the programme form and your own-choice repertoire to camera, this may be done by the responsible adult or your accompanist. The examiner will only start their assessment once you start to perform.

You do not need to notify ABRSM and no supporting documentation is required.

Access options for digital Performance Grades excluding digital ARSM exams

The following list is available to select from when booking a digital exam for candidates with specific needs. Please see the notes below for further details.

  • Rest breaks required
  • Chaperone required
  • Prompter required
  • Specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia and dyspraxia)
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Physical difficulties
  • Tics

Extra time is not permitted for your performance. That is, your programme should not exceed the published time limit.

However, rest breaks may be taken during the performance. This could be one long rest, or several shorter rests, up to the maximum amount shown below. Please note the times below are the maximum permitted breaks and you should decide what is the optimum length of break for you in each instance. The video should be left running but the examiner will not take these breaks into consideration in the assessment. However, the examiner will take into account how you manage the transitions from your performance into your rest breaks and vice versa.

Grades 1 to 3: 5 minutes

Grades 4 and 5: 10 minutes

Grades 6 and 7: 15 minutes

Grade 8: 20 minutes

ARSM: 30 minutes

These roughly equate to 100% extra time.

Please select ‘rest breaks required’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

If you have difficulties maintaining stamina or concentration to sustain a performance from beginning to end, you may take rest breaks as outlined above if this is your usual way of working.

Please select ‘rest breaks required’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

A chaperone is someone who can provide support or encouragement to you during your performance. The chaperone may sit next to you and may be on or off camera.

Please select  ‘chaperone required’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

We are aware that some candidates may routinely require prompting to start a particular piece or to play pieces in a particular order. This should be undertaken by the responsible adult or accompanist.

While the continuity, sequencing and pacing of the whole performance does form part of the assessment and may be affected by prompting, there are other elements that the examiner can focus on, such as choice and order of repertoire, balance, variety, instrument management, and engagement with the music.

Please select ’prompter required’ when booking your exam and then write to access[email protected] with details.

If you have specific learning difficulties you may have the score available for reference in singing and singing for musical theatre exams.

Please select ‘specific learning difficulties’ when making your exam booking.

We recognise that candidates with autism and ADHD may find elements of the exam process challenging and we have listed some of these below. While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, you are welcome to write to us to outline the nature of your difficulties so that we can make the examiner aware of them.

Please select  ‘autism’ or ‘ADHD’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

Performing to a camera and being recorded

We are aware that some candidates may have diagnosed clinical anxieties that go far beyond the butterflies and nerves that all candidates face before a performance. These may relate to the performance itself, technical challenges, the upload process or even sharing the video with an examiner.

You are welcome to provide any relevant information for the examiner. Only the examiner and ABRSM staff directly involved with your exam are able to access the recordings.

If you are likely to be put off by the presence of the camera, you may wish to consider having something on the wall behind it to focus your attention, such as a favourite picture. Or, if you find that your attention is easily distracted, try to ensure the performance venue is as plain as possible.

You may find it helpful to practice in the same spot as you will use to record your video so that it is more familiar by the time you come to give your performance.

While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, we are aware that you may not be able to make eye contact with the camera, or that you may demonstrate commitment and engagement with the performance in ways that are not visually obvious.

Eye contact is not something that is specifically assessed, and it is possible to show engagement, conviction and communication without it. That said, it may be helpful for you to be aware of exactly where the camera is located in relation to your performing space and your accompanist.

Please select the ’visual impairment’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

We know that some candidates with hearing impairments may experience difficulties hearing an accompaniment if playing to a backing track and may have challenges with balance, intonation and ensemble as a result. We also know that some candidates may experience difficulties with interference between the microphone and any electronic hearing aids. While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, you are welcome to write to us to outline the nature of your difficulties so that we can make the examiner aware of them.

Please select ’hearing impairment’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

Communication, stage presence and body language

As a performance-based exam, the examiner will assess three broad areas: communication, interpretation and delivery. We are aware that candidates with certain specific needs may not routinely demonstrate communication through body language, facial expression or eye contact in ways that are visually obvious.

There may be practical factors that further affect your ability to communicate naturally such as the positioning of the piano or the camera. If this is the case, letting us know will ensure the examiner is aware and they will then focus primarily on areas of your performance that are not affected by your specific needs, for example the sequencing and pacing of your performance.

We are aware that physical difficulties may impact candidates in a number of ways as outlined below.

While there are no relevant reasonable adjustments we can offer, examiners appreciate having this information and can ensure their comments are as sensitive as possible.

Please select  ‘physical difficulties’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

Sitting down to play:

You are welcome to perform sitting down and this will not affect the marking. There is no need to inform us in advance unless you wish to provide further relevant information.

Adaptations to your music:

All candidates are welcome to alter articulation or breathing marks as part of the process of interpreting the score. In addition, if you have physical difficulties, you are welcome to make small adaptations to the music such as missing out notes where necessary and changing the registration or voicing of chords.

You should aim to maintain the musical effect and the composer’s intentions as far as possible.

You should send any proposed adaptations to us before making your exam booking in order that they can be reviewed.

Holding/playing your instrument:

You are welcome to inform us about any difficulties you have that affect the way you hold or play your instrument, including any technical challenges this poses. We welcome the use of adapted instruments that can meet the technical demands of the programme.

We are aware that the increased stress and anxiety around an exam and making a recording may affect any tics you may have. While there are no reasonable adjustments we can offer, examiners will be sensitive to this and it will not affect your mark.

You are welcome to write to us with details so that we can make the examiner aware.

Please select  ‘tics’ when booking your exam and then write to [email protected] with details.

If you are taking a digital ARSM exam, you can select from the list of access options on the booking form. However, this list relates to face to face exams rather than our digital exams, so some of the options may not be as relevant.

Please select the relevant option and then write to [email protected] with details.

Contact details:

Access Coordinator
ABRSM
4 London Wall Place
London
EC2Y 5AU
T +44 (0)20 7467 7342
E [email protected]

Contact details

Access Coordinator

ABRSM
4 London Wall Place
London
EC2Y 5AU

T +44 (0)20 7467 7342
[email protected]

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