How to mark a piano exam | “On Your Marks” ABRSM

How to mark a piano exam | “On Your Marks” ABRSM

piano exam abrsm

If you’ve ever wanted to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at one of your students’ piano exams, have a look at this great free offering from the ABRSM.

timtopham piano teaching tips: abrsm piano examsWhat is it?

The ABRSM has just released a great feature on its website called “On Your Marks”. This resource allows you to watch and assess all the elements of an ABRSM piano exam (similar AMEB, ANZCA, Trinity) and compare your assessment with the ABRSM Chief Examiner, John Holmes.

The page is split into the four main exam sections: technical work, pieces, aural tests and sight reading. After watching a video of the student performing in each section, you can select your mark.

When you’ve made your assessment, you can compare it to the Chief Examiner’s mark and watch a video explaining why he marked the piano exam the way he did.

Why I like it

Firstly, it’s fun to use!

This is a great resource for both students and teachers. Teachers can confirm that their own thinking is on-track with an examiner’s; students can see what it’s like to sit a piano exam and they can compare themselves to the performances in the videos. I was also impressed that the webpage was just as easy to access on a mobile phone.

More from ABRSM for piano exams

The ABRSM also has a great Aural Training app for iPhone and iPad called Aural Trainer. While you may not use the ABRSM exam system with your students, the app is still a great resource for exam candidates.

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as integrated teaching, creativity, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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piano exam abrsm
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  1. Thanks for sharing Tim, this is fantastic. I haven’t been on the ABRSM site for a while and didn’t know about this. I tended to mark a bit generously and it was good to hear the analysis. If only the AMEB would do something like this. Their marking system is really quite opaque compared to Trinity Guildhall or ABRSM…

    • Hey Dan

      Thanks for your comments 🙂 The ABRSM are really proactive when it comes to apps and teacher education. I think the issue with the AMEB is that without numerical marking (or any public marking reference for that matter), the examiner’s mark can be quite subjective and very much open to interpretation. It will be interesting to see if they ever reconsider this in the future. In the meantime, Trinity and ABRSM have started taking the lead…

      • Indeed! I mean, to be fair, the AMEB have such a tiny market by comparison and investing in the kind of training that the English exam systems do is pretty tough in Australia. Still, we can hope.

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