The ultimate guide to ABRSM remote video exams

The ultimate guide to ABRSM remote video exams

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. With the on-going events, ABRSM announced the suspension of all face-to-face graded exams back in March 2020. They followed up announcing the upcoming exams are to be taken in the form of remotely-accessed exams later in October. The earliest exam date is as soon as in February 2021. Parents and students have to act quickly to adapt to the new exam format to achieve good results. It is challenging since parents and students are not familiar with the newly implemented arrangement. Below we will talk about the common mistakes we saw some students make so that you can avoid them. 

Choosing your exam pieces

Candidates will be required to perform four pieces in succession where at least three of them have to be selected from either 2019-2020 syllabus or 2021-2022 syllabus. Candidates can choose a song from past syllabuses or any published source as long as the difficulty is the same. Check to make sure you have met the exam piece requirements. 

Video recording requirements

Your video should be recorded in one continuous take. You may not edit or modify the video in any way. Before you get all psyched up for your exam, do a test run with your camera to see if it captured you and your instrument entirely. Playback the video to see if the sound and video are recorded correctly and in sync. Although everyone has got a shiny new iPhone in their hands which is more than capable of recording super high definition videos, the new ABRSM remotely-accessed exams require 720p video resolution in the format of MP4, WMV, MOV or MPG with file sizes less than 2GB. Double confirm the settings of your phone camera before proceeding with the recording. Right before you decide to record the perfect take, take a quick look at your battery and storage status. You should also turn off any notifications while you are doing that. 

What you should wear

You should wear something that is elegant while keeping it clean and fresh. Do not overdress with excessive fashion, think like you are going to a concert or a recital, wear a proper attire and make sure it is convenient enough for you to play your instrument and not hinder any movements. You might want to avoid school uniforms if they are not well fitted. For girls, you may opt for dresses. Make sure they are not too short or too long where it might cover up the pedals. Low heeled shoes or flats are preferred for the ease of pressing the pedals. Boys may dress themselves in simple suits, white shirts and black trousers and all. They may also consider garbing in a tuxedo if deemed fit. 

Do these before you sit down and start playing

Having done all of the above, you are now all geared up and ready to play your mini concert right? Not quite yet. Don’t forget to show your candidate number, your completed programme form and the first page of your own-choice piece in front of the camera. Best hold them for around 5 seconds before you take them away to ensure the examiner can see your documents clearly. Then remember to verbally announce your name, instrument and grade along with the title, composer and list information of your four pieces. 

What about accompaniment? 

Live accompaniment is normally required as listed in relevant ABRSM syllabuses. Considering the current situation where social distancing is enforced, you may now choose to have a pre-recorded accompaniment or perform unaccompanied. 

The new marking scheme

Unlike the practical grade exams, candidates are required to play four songs in the new performance grade exams. The total mark for each exam piece is 30 marks with an additional 30 marks graded according to the candidates’ overall performance, which accumulates to a total mark of 150 for the entire exam. 

Make sure to read the guidance provided by ABRSM thoroughly, which is available here: 

guidance-for-performance-grade-online-assessment-national-id-updates.pdf (

Here’s a quick handy checklist for you before you start the camera and rock on: 

performance-grades-checklist.pdf (

With all things set, you are now ready to go! Best wishes for all candidates, students and parents in their exam journey!

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