Latest exam updates

Practical Session 1 Update - Faroe Islands

We appreciate how much the cancellation of our exams has affected learners and we are working hard on solutions to ensure learners can gain their qualifications at the earliest opportunity.

However, on the basis of official and local advice we are cancelling the Session 1 Practical exams scheduled for November. We are very sorry for the impact on teachers and candidates and we will continue to monitor the situation. Thank you for your loyalty and support while these restrictions remain in place.

We will be gradually rolling out remotely-assessed Performance Grades internationally and will share exam dates and booking periods soon.

Exams in Singing for Musical Theatre are currently available for Practical Grades 1–3 and Performance Grades 1–5, and syllabuses for Practical Grades 4 & 5 and Performance Grades 6–8 will be released on 3 December 2020.

Coming soon on 3 December:

  • Practical Grades 4 & 5, including supporting test requirements for use from January 2021
  • New supporting publications will be available for Practical Grades 4 & 5
  • Song lists for Grades 6–8, so you will now be able to take Performance Grade exams from Grades 1 to 8
  • More songs added to the Grades 1–5 song lists

Why take an exam in Singing for Musical Theatre?

Musical theatre is a vibrant and energetic contemporary art form, popular with increasing numbers of performers, young and old. Singers specialising in this dynamic genre now have the opportunity to gain an internationally recognised qualification with ABRSM. Our exams connect progress, achievement and motivation – so you can take to the stage with confidence.

The new Singing for Musical Theatre syllabus provides a great opportunity for young singers to perform, learn, experiment, practise and most importantly have fun. The Singing for Musical Theatre syllabus provides many challenges with style, expression, acting through song, varying vocal qualities and techniques. The lists offer a variety of choices and encourage the discovery of new repertoire.Rachel Lyske, Brit School teacher and ABRSM consultant.

With our new Singing for Musical Theatre exams you perform the songs you love, while developing musical skills that will help you flourish in rehearsal, audition and performance situations. Along the way you’ll also gain valuable interrelated skills – not just for music making but for life.

ABRSM Chief Examiner, John Holmes says:

“As with the development of all our syllabuses, we have taken great care to create a clear, well-structured progressive pathway through the assessment of this popular genre. Singing for Musical Theatre exams are new to ABRSM’s exam offer, and new in terms of what’s available out there, but familiar in terms of what we do best - providing reliable milestones of musical achievement, marked according to solid, well-established principles.”

The exam

Whether you plan to use your exam as a springboard for an audition, as preparation for the industry or just because you love singing songs from musicals, we want to help you build all the skills you need to be a rounded and successful performer. We’ve designed different exams to support you to be your very best.

You now have two routes to choose when you decide to do a Singing for Musical Theatre exam:

  • Practical Grade exam – 3 accompanied songs, 1 unaccompanied song, sight-singing and aural tests
  • Performance Grade exam – 4 accompanied songs and a mark for the overall performance

Practical Grades

Our Practical Grade exams for Singing for Musical Theatre are currently available at Grades 1 to 3. Each Practical Grade consists of three accompanied songs, one unaccompanied song, sight-singing and aural tests.

You can click on individual exam elements below for further detail.

You need to choose one accompanied song from each list. This is an opportunity to show the range of characters you can express, acting through song. Having live accompaniment from the piano in the exam mirrors usual practice for concerts and auditions, and interacting with the pianist is another important musical skill you build here.

Singing unaccompanied (a cappella) is a great way to train your ear, and really helps with singing in tune and building your confidence. It’s also great preparation for auditions and your chance to shine solo!

Being able to sight-read unfamiliar music is one of those skills that every singer should have. It helps you to join in more easily, learn things more quickly and access all kinds of music for yourself. It could help you to step into a new role at short notice, access session work and much more.

In the exam, the examiner will present you with a short piece of music that you haven’t seen before. We’ve designed all the sight-singing pieces to be relevant to Musical Theatre singers. They are in attractive, accessible styles with optional words in English. Each short piece starts with a piano introduction consisting of the final bars of the piece you are going to sing. The piano part either doubles (Grades 1 – 2) or supports (Grade 3) the melody line throughout, so you can use your musical instinct to find the tune, as well as reading it.

Aural training develops your musical ‘ear’. Having a strong musical ear helps you to feel a pulse, keep in time and understand harmonies and melody lines. These are important skills when you have to pick up tunes quickly with limited rehearsal time. Musical theatre singers are often very strong in this area and our tests give you the chance to demonstrate that.

In the exam, the examiner will play you some short melodies, rhythms, and pieces of music to respond to. Some are for you to join in with or copy and some are for you to notice changes or general features such as loud/quiet, fast/slow etc.

Total marks in all individual Practical Grade exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction. Marking information for individual exam element can be viewed below.

View Practical Grade exam marking criteria

Practical Grade syllabus

Our material has been carefully selected by industry experts and is designed to reflect the different dramatic contexts and genres within musical theatre. To make sure the songs you perform in the exam room come from the latest musicals, the syllabus will only be available online. This means we can regularly refresh and update it as new songs are released.

Performance Grades

Performance Grades are our new remotely-assessed exams with a focus on performance. They provide recognition for the communication, interpretation and storytelling skills that sit at the heart of every successful musical performance.

Performance Grade exams for Singing for Musical Theatre are currently available at Grades 1 to 5. Each Performance Grade consists of four accompanied songs in one continuous performance. You need to choose at least one song from each of the three song lists. The fourth song can be from the song lists or an accompanied song of your own choice.

Total marks in all individual Performance Grade exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction. The four songs will be marked individually with a maximum of 30 marks for each item. A further 30 marks are then available for the ‘performance as a whole’.

View Performance Grade exam marking criteria

Performance Grade syllabus and exam information

Performance Grade exams draw on the same songs set for our Practical Grade exams. Since Performance Grade exams focus on performance alone, the choice of song is important, and attention should be given to the way songs are contrasted, the order in which they are presented, and the different moods and characters they inhabit.

You can visit our Performance Grades page for key information, guidance and documents for this exam.

NEW Performance Grades

Supporting products

We have released Songbooks and Sight-Singing material for Singing for Musical Theatre Grades 1 to 3. A range of publications for Grades 4 & 5 will be available on 3 December. 



Aural Trainer

Award-winning aural practice application from ABRSM - now available for Grades 1-8


Speedshifter allows you to alter the tempo of music without altering the pitch. Ideal for practising slowly!

Contact us

If you have any questions about ABRSM’s Singing for Musical Theatre exams, please get in touch.

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