Graded Exams
  A Definitive Guide to Graded Examinations across the Performing Arts


The pattern of progression through the grades varies according to individual choice. Some candidates choose to advance through the sequence from grade to grade, others prefer to select only specific grades. Depending on the ability of the learner and the purpose of assessment, every grade is a potential exit point.

Grades 6 to 8 in Music, Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre, and Intermediate and Advanced Foundation examinations in Dance are included in the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service’s (UCAS) Tariff. This provides a means for Higher Education institutions in the UK to make broad comparisons between applicants holding different types of qualifications. The specific ratings for these RQF Level 3 grades can be found at

The grades provide a progression route to the higher-level diplomas in performing and teaching offered by the Awarding Organisations. In music, conservatoires often specify Grade 8 as a prerequisite for their courses. In dance and drama, colleges often identify a pass at RQF Level 3 as appropriate additional evidence to support candidates’ applications.

Higher level qualifications in music, dance and drama remain true to Awarding Organisations’ commitment to conducting relevant and reliable assessments which enable candidates to show their best in examination conditions which are supportive of their aspirations and endeavours. They provide schemes of assessment at standards comparable to those expected in full-time tertiary training. The fundamental principle of these industry standard qualifications is that the opportunity is created for candidates to display their skills in whatever role they choose, be it performer, teacher, director or another specialism. Holders of higher-level diplomas have excellent potential employability, not just in the arts and creative industries, but in a wide range of spheres.