As all of you know, the ABRSM Theory exams up to grade 5 can also be taken online from August 2020. A lot of students were worried about this new setting, so I decided to make my entry to it and to see how the process truly is. That way, I could advise our students properly. You can now check all the updates on this remote assessment.
What Are the Main Changes?
First of all, they removed some of the topics from the usual syllabus (you can check it on the website).
Secondly, the new exam is multiple-choice format. Most of my students are under 12 years old, that means they are not getting used to taking these kinds of exams, which resulted in spending a month working thoroughly to ensure a positive outcome.
My Own Experience Before the Exam
I enrolled in the exam. Some weeks later, I received an email where I found a link to check my computer (microphone, webcam and the internet connection) and another one which explained how/where to download the software. Once you have downloaded it, you can try it. The software is going to close all your apps and internet windows. There are several options; You need to pick the ABRSM Theory exam and your grade. They ask you for some details like your name, email and telephone number ( in case you need assistance), then they ask you to take a photo of your ID and yourself (you have to do it with your webcam). When they verified your ID, you have to show them the room where you are going to take your exam. You can have on the desk a piece of paper (You have to show them) and a pencil; no books are allowed, if you have a keyboard you should cover it. For the under 18 years old, they need a tutor or a parent to do all the process for them. So assistance for kids would be essential. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the mock exam as I didn’t receive my password and username on time. The mock exam entailed four questions; basically, it was to see how it was going to work
The Day of the Exam
I got my password, a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a computer ready. Internet connection checked. They remotely closed the access to the platform until 4,45pm. At 4,45pm I tried to log in. However, it took me 30 mins to log in to the platform.
Apparently, as per the software used, I didn’t have a good connection ( I checked it, my internet was excellent).
After that situation, I tried to call them. It was impossible to contact them. Lines busy. After 30 mins trying to log in, and trying to call them, I was able to log in. Don’t panic! I can imagine that there are a lot of people trying to log in at the same time and the platform just got blocked. Some of my students got the same problem. The exam was supposed to start at 5 pm, but I was able to access at 5,15pm. Obviously, like in any new process, until it is fully operative, some faults and failures must be considered as a possibility. We just need to keep calm and carry on. Once we can log in, we have to take a photo of our ID, scan the room and to take a photo of ourselves. Don’t forget to show the blank paper to the camera. In the exam, there are fifty-eight questions divided into topics. I found the exam more complex than the standard ones. Take your time, read carefully, answer accordingly, and after you have completed the exam, you can double-check your answers. Once you finish, you only have to click on Finish Exam and this will take you to a page where tells you that in four weeks you will have your results ready.
Wish you the best results to everyone who did it! And thanks to ABRSM for this online new system. This means a step forward in the music examinations in the UK. Hopefully, soon, it will be available in all around the world too, that way our international/online students can also do it.
Written by Cristina Guerra Juan