ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
Margaret Liu, the director of Cambridge Academy of Music, was appointed by ABRSM to the Representative post for Georgia USA in April 1997 and Florida and South Carolina in January 2019. Currently, over 7,600 students have taken the instrument exams and over 4,200 students have taken the theory exam in her region.
Established in 1889 in the United Kingdom, the ABRSM exams are the most popular assessment program in the world. Currently, 700,000 students in 93 countries test themselves against the Board’s internationally recognized standards. There are 22 exam centers throughout the U.S. The ABRSM Exam Center in Georgia was established in the fall of 1996, with the first exam in December of that year.
Practical Grade Exam (Face-to-Face)
This exam focuses on all-round musical knowledge and skills. Candidates are assessed by an ABRSM examiner from the U.K. through a face-to-face exam. Candidates play 3 pieces (memorization not mandatory), required technical skills, sight-read, and take an aural skills test. They receive an assessment report, and certificate.
Assessments begin with an introductory Preparatory Test which is followed by the graded exams. These start with Grade 1 and are numbered progressively in order of difficulty to Grade 8. Beyond Grade 8 are the professional diploma levels – ARSM, DipABRSM, LRSM and FRSM. Subjects for the diploma program include Performance, Teaching, and Conducting.
The exam subjects are available for 35 instruments, including piano, organ, strings, woodwinds, brass, harp, singing, singing in musical theater, and percussion, etc.
Performance Grade Exam (Digital)
This exam was launched in December 2019. It is not replacing the existing Practical Grade. It is an additional route to musical progression. Digital exam is assessed from a video recording and is all about performance – you and your audience, you and your music and your instrument. The exam is equivalent in demand and value to the Practical Grade but has a different emphasis with a focus on performance.
For the exam, candidates select and perform four pieces or songs, presented as a continuous program without pause in the video recording: three pieces from the current syllabus (one from each list) and one is of the candidate’s own choice piece.
Candidates can choose to switch between Performance Grades and Practical Grades as they progress through the grade levels – Grades 1 to 8 and ARSM diploma exam. A wide range of instrumental and singing subjects, plus Initial Grade for Piano and Bowed Strings are offered.
The Theory Exam assesses candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the way music works. ABRSM believes that developing this knowledge and understanding helps musicians at all levels to perform with great sensitivity, awareness, and control.
ABRSM requires candidates to meet the Grade 5 Theory Exam prerequisite for Practical and Performance Grades 6 to 8 exams. Having passed the Grade 5 theory exam, candidates have a good understanding of the elements of music, something that will prepare them for success at the higher grades.
Theory Grades 1 to 5 exams are assessed through an online exam system. Grade 6 to 8 theory exams are assessed through a paper-based exam held in the local exam centers.