Graded examinations grew from the examination structures put in place by the music conservatoires in the mid 19th Century which aimed to assess the development of young musicians and to support standards in teaching. By the beginning of the 20th Century the scope of the assessments had expanded to include drama and dance. It is little surprise that the early geographical spread of these examinations mirrored the footprint of the old British Empire with Awarding Organisations’ archives recalling examiners leaving from UK ports on sailing ships for long international tours, certificates in hand.
Today, graded exams are available in over 90 countries and attract well over a million candidates annually. The range of performance specialisms covered includes an extensive list of musical instruments and styles, dance genres, drama disciplines and musical theatre.