Online Music Theory exam guidelines
This page contains important information and checklists that will help candidates prepare for an online Music Theory exam. Please read this information carefully.
Under ‘Additional guidance’ at the bottom of this page you will find instructions referred to in the below checklists including:
- RPNow download and installation guide
- Exam set up and reference guide
- Video guides.
Applicants, candidates and responsible adults should read or view these before the exam.
Candidates can take the exam at any time between 00:01 (local time) on 26 May 2021 and 23:59 on 23 June 2021 (local time)
Checklists for the applicant, candidate and responsible adult
The applicant is the person who made the exam entry.
The candidate is the person taking the exam.
The responsible adult is there to accompany any candidates under the age of 18 or vulnerable adults. The responsible adult must be aged 18 or over.
- Individual candidate: The responsible adult must be present in the room at the beginning of the exam and can stay in the exam room for the duration of the assessment if desired.
- Multiple candidates: For any venues hosting multiple candidates, a responsible adult must be present for the whole exam.
You can read more about the role of the responsible adult, including what they should and shouldn’t do, here.
- Make sure everyone involved in the exam knows the exam window when candidates must take the exam
- Make sure everyone understands that the exam is not held at a Public Venue but at a suitable location arranged by the candidate or the responsible adult (e.g. a candidate’s home or candidate’s school).
- Obtain parental permission (for any candidate(s) under the age of 18 or vulnerable adults) for the exam to be filmed. We do not require proof that parental permission has been sought as this is your responsibility as the applicant.
- Read the Online Safeguarding Policy, our guide to Remote Proctoring in ABRSM Online Music Theory Exams and our Candidate Identification Policy.
- Advise candidate(s) to watch our video guides on completing a scan of the room where the exam will take place. The room scan is essential so that we can ensure the exam is taken under exam conditions and in line with our rules and regulations.
- Encourage candidates to try the practice exams available online here.
- Encourage candidates (or their Responsible Adult) to read the candidate checklists in advance of the exam.
- Make sure you are aware of the exam window when candidates must take the exam.
- Make you sure you understand that the exam is not held at one of our Public Venues but at a suitable location arranged by the candidate or the applicant (e.g. a candidate’s home or candidate’s school).
- Check that you have received your Username (ABRSM Contact ID) and Password, which will have been sent to the candidate email address provided at the time of booking. We will send this between 21 and 26 May 2021 so check your Junk or Spam folder if you have not received it. Note: this Password is only to gain access to the exam and is not the same Password used to gain access to your ABRSM account if you have registered for one.
- Check that parental permission has been given to the applicant (if the candidate is under 18 or is a vulnerable adult) for the exam to be filmed. We do not require proof that parental permission has been sought as this is the responsibility of the applicant.
- Make sure you have read the Online Safeguarding Policy, our guide to Remote Proctoring in Online Music Theory Exams and our Candidate Identification Policy
- Check that you have all the online Music Theory system requirements needed to take the exam. You should also test the compatibility of the candidates’ computer equipment and internet connection by running this simple online check: PSI RPNow System Check. We recommend using Google Chrome as your web browser.
- Download the RPnow Proctoring Software - this is the software you will use to take the exam. Only download the software via a link provided by ABRSM and do not copy and paste the link into a search engine or use a link via another website or organisation. You will not be able to progress through the software until 26 May.
- Watch our video guides on completing a scan of the room where the exam will take place room.
- Try the practice exams available online here.
You will need:
- The candidate’s Username (ABRSM Contact ID) and Password sent to the candidate by email at least two weeks before the exam. This can be written down on the candidate’s blank paper
- A form of Photo ID to show when prompted by the system when it says ID Photo Instructions. This can be one of the following:
- Photo Driver’s License
- College or University ID card
- Rail or transport card
- National ID card
- A completed ABRSM Candidate Identification Form (see Appendix C in our Candidate Identification Policy)
- Computer or laptop with the exam’s RPnow Proctoring software already downloaded and installed.
- Blank paper (plain or manuscript) and a pen or pencil to work out answers during the exam. Candidates will need to show both sides of their blank paper to the camera during their room scan. If the Username and Password is written on the paper, show this clearly to the camera as well. There must be no other text, notation, or images on the paper. If there are, this will be noted by our proctors and may lead to a malpractice investigation and disqualification.
- Time to complete all the ‘getting ready’ steps below, before the exam begins. We recommend allowing 15 to 30 minutes for this.
These steps need to be completed before the candidate can start the exam. You should aim to do this 15 to 30 minutes before the exam.
- Prepare the exam room in line with our online Music Theory system requirements.
- No open books or depictions of musical notes in the room.
- Any piano keyboards in the room are covered.
- Visit the toilet
- If it’s essential that the candidate has a toilet break once the exam has started, this should be limited to only once and should be for a maximum of 5 minutes. Candidates must inform the online invigilator (proctor) that they are taking a toilet break during the exam by looking at the camera and saying this out loud. They can also write this down and show the piece of paper to the camera. The exam recording should continue during this time.
- Launch the RPnow Proctoring software.
- Follow these steps to complete the exam set up:
- Select the exam being taken.
- Enter the candidate’s (Test Taker’s) name so that it exactly matches the name in the Photo ID being used (using full/shortened names such as Matt/ Matthew if relevant).
- Enter the contact information. This should be the Responsible Adult’s details if the candidate is under 18 or a vulnerable adult.
- Make sure all other apps, programmes and browsers are closed.
- Show the candidate’s Photo ID.
- Perform the room scan.
- Take the candidate’s picture on the screen.
- From this point on, the session will be recorded (desktop, webcam and audio), until the exam window is closed at the end of the assessment.
Once the pre-exam set up has taken place:
- Enter the candidate Username (ABRSM Contact ID) and Password. You can write this on the blank paper before the exam.
- The link to the live exam will show at the start of the scheduled exam time and will remain active for the duration of the exam.
- A timer in the right-hand corner of the exam system will show how long candidates have to complete the exam. The countdown (in minutes) will not start until the candidate has entered the actual exam.
- Candidates who have been entered with access arrangements or reasonable adjustments should be aware of the extra time they have been provided. The timer for these candidates will include any extra time.
- The responsible adult is allowed to leave and re-enter the exam room once the live exam has been accessed as long as this does not disrupt the exam and they do not bring any prohibited items into the exam room.
- Before closing the exam window at the end of the assessment and stopping the recording, tear up any paper used in the exam. Candidates should do this in front of the camera so it can be seen clearly.
- The exam will time out if a candidate is inactive for 30 minutes. If this happens the candidate will need to re-open the software, do the pre-exam checks and then log in again to finish their exam.
If a candidate forgets to tear up the rough paper in front of the camera at the end of the exam then please provide a photo of the torn paper by email to [email protected].
Any venue hosting multiple candidates should also view our Running Online Theory exams as a Private Visit and for Multiple Candidates guidance.
Candidates in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can request an exam in Simplified or Traditional Chinese when they book their exam. However, the RPNow software will only be available in English.
- Candidates need to complete the pre-exam checks on the RPNow software and log in to the exam as above
- Candidates will then be able to choose the language of the information immediately displayed to them
- Once the exam itself has been clicked on, candidates will then need to again choose their required language which will display the exam itself in their chosen language
Candidates who need a physical paper-based exam due to Access Arrangements, and who have chosen the necessary option at the time of entry, will be sent their exam paper in the post to arrive before 26 May. The candidate will still be filmed taking the exam but will not have access to an online version of the exam.
- Immediately after the booking has been made the applicant or candidate should provide the address where the paper should be sent and Supporting Documentation confirming a Physical Paper exam is required. These should be sent by 12 May 2021 at the latest to: [email protected]
- We will then send the exam paper to the candidate in advance of the exam. The paper must stay sealed in its envelope until the time of the exam. It should only be opened in front of the camera once the exam has started. If the paper is opened before this then we cannot accept the completed paper and the mark will be void.
- Once we have sent the paper, we will send a link to the exam software by email
- Download the software and, on the day of the exam and once the paper has been received, run through the usual pre-exam checks including completing a room scan and showing the candidate’s photo ID. The candidate will see an instruction page at which point they should open the sealed exam paper in front of the camera and show all pages to confirm they are blank. Once they’ve done this, they can start the exam.
- Once the candidate has completed their exam, they should put their completed exam paper in the return envelope provided by us and seal the envelope on camera to show it is not possible for anyone to amend the paper. This should then be returned to us for marking.
- It is the candidate or responsible adult’s responsibility to ensure the exam time does not exceed the candidate’s allowance as no timer will be available on the screen. The length of the exam will be checked when proctored.
For any technical advice in advance or on the day of the exam, with the exception of password resets (see below), customers should contact PSI Support - Telephone number to be confirmed.
Please contact us directly for password queries by emailing [email protected] or by contacting your Local Representative if you are based outside the UK and Ireland. The ‘Retrieve Password’ button does not work at the moment.
- Results will be available to the applicant four weeks after the exam. The exam will be marked automatically but results will only be available once the videos of the assessments have been reviewed.
- We will email the applicant to let them know when they can log in to their ABRSM account to view results and the mark form giving a breakdown of marks.
- Candidates with an ABRSM account will receive a results email seven days after the applicant.
- We will send certificates will be sent to the applicant within two weeks of releasing results, subject to any checks we may need to make. For exams outside the UK and Ireland where we have a local representative , we will send certificates to the representative for local distribution.
- If a candidate experienced any technical difficulties that prevented them from taking the assessment, the applicant must contact us within seven days of the exam date.
- We are not able to adjust the outcomes of right/wrong answers in order to make allowances for a negative exam experience. However, we can consider a refund or opportunity to sit the exam again for free.
- Please see our Appeals Policy for information about how to appeal the outcome of an exam.
- Candidates must not cheat in an ABRSM exam. This includes the use of prohibited items, collusion, and attempting to access the internet during the exam.
- After the exam we will review internally all potential infringements raised by PSI proctors. We will investigate all incidents of suspected malpractice in line with our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.
- Candidates will not receive results until our investigations are complete. If we find that malpractice has been committed, the candidate may be disqualified.
- Online Music Theory system requirements - outlines all the technical requirements you need to take the exam .
- RPNow Download and installation guide - support with downloading the RPnow software that you need to take the exam
- Exam set up reference guide - complements the video guides below, which take you through set up, step-by-step.
- The two important videos below talk you through the necessary pre-exam checks and navigating the online system
Starting the exam, doing a room scan and showing candidate ID (pre-exam checks)
- Where possible, the room candidates take the exam in should be free from notes, books of any kind, any depiction of musical notes and any representation of a piano keyboard as shown in the video.
- If a candidate is not able to access a room free of these items, then all books should remain closed and out of reach, and any depiction of musical notation or representation of a piano keyboard, including an actual piano, should be covered so they are not visible.
Navigating the online system and example online questions
If the information you need is not here, then please take a look at our online Music Theory FAQs.