Fair access guidelines for candidates requiring a chaperone in ABRSM exams

These guidelines contain information for candidates who require a chaperone to be present in the exam. ABRSM uses the term chaperone to describe a person who is known to the candidate and is allowed to remain in the exam room with the candidate for the full duration of the exam.

We also publish the following guidelines which may also be relevant:

  • Guidelines for candidates with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)
  • Guidelines for candidates with autism
  • Guidelines for candidates who are blind or partially sighted

Before reading these guidelines, we recommend you also read our Access Policy which can be found on the Specific Needs page of our website.

You should review the information in these guidelines before making an exam entry.

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

It is important to understand that while we are able to make provisions for the administration of the exam, for example allowing a chaperone into the exam, we are not able to make any concessions in the marking – all candidates will be treated equally.

Please ensure you select the most relevant access provision when making your exam entry.

It is important that you select the relevant access provision for each exam even if you have requested access arrangements or reasonable adjustments previously.

If none of the access provisions 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 entry deadline.

If you wish to request a chaperone, please email [email protected] at the point of entry.

Please note that ABRSM is unable to provide reasonable adjustments where we are notified after the exam entry 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.

The chaperone’s key role is to provide support for the candidate in the exam room where there is a specific need for this. The exact role may vary from candidate to candidate depending on the circumstances. Often, being a visible presence and offering an encouraging smile will be all that is required.

Generally, chaperones should not speak in the exam unless requested by the examiner. They should not repeat questions, rephrase questions or provide any form of assistance in answering questions. However, some encouraging words or a prompt to maintain focus may be permitted.

Chaperones are not intended to act as interpreters or oral language modifiers. If specialist support of this nature is required, applicants should discuss exam arrangements with the Access Coordinator prior to making an exam entry.

Chaperones may not take any electronic equipment into the exam, and are not permitted to make notes.

Chaperones should remain present in the exam room for the duration of the exam.

Chaperones may provide practical assistance to the candidate where necessary, such as carrying instruments or music, adjusting the piano stool or music stand, though the examiner will be happy to help as well.

The chaperone’s key role is to provide support for the candidate in the exam room where there is a specific need for this. The exact role may vary from candidate to candidate depending on the circumstances. Often, being a visible presence and offering an encouraging smile will be all that is required.

A chaperone may not act as a prompter. If this is required, for example, for  a candidate who has little or no sense of time, or loses concentration easily, or is affected by an obsessive-compulsive disorder which leads them to keep revising a question rather than moving onto other questions, please contact ABRSM’s Access Coordinator before making the exam entry.

At the beginning of the exam, it is helpful for the examiner/invigilator and chaperone to discuss where the chaperone should sit, and, if appropriate, what type of support the chaperone may provide during the exam.

Chaperones will not be permitted entry to the exam unless prior permission has been given and the examiner or invigilator has received notification.

Permission must be requested from the Access Coordinator prior to the exam. Please contact the Access Coordinator in advance of making an exam entry to discuss candidate’s specific needs.

Once permission for a chaperone has been given, the applicant should make the exam entry as usual and then contact the Access Coordinator by email with details of the exam and the proposed chaperone. The Access Coordinator will then notify the examiner of this arrangement.

Anyone with a specific need or health condition who would reasonably benefit from having a chaperone present in the exam may request this provision.

Examples of situations where a chaperone may be appropriate include:

  • For a candidate with severe anxiety to provide reassurance.
  • For a candidate who requires some prompting to stay on task or who may not respond to an unfamiliar person.
  • For a candidate unable to respond to instructions or demands from an unfamiliar person.
  • For a candidate who has suffered trauma who would not be comfortable alone with an unfamiliar adult.
  • For a candidate who requires a third party to be present for religious reasons.
  • For a candidate who requires supervision on account of a health condition or disability.

The chaperone should be familiar to the candidate and their presence in the exam should have been discussed with the candidate ahead of the exam entry.

Anyone may act as a chaperone with the following exceptions.

  • The chaperone must not be the candidate’s instrumental or vocal teacher.
  • The chaperone should not be a close relative.
  • However, ABRSM recognises that, in some instances, there may be very few people who are sufficiently familiar with the candidate to be able to support them appropriately in the exam.

Contact Information


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

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