Minor changes made to ABRSM aural tests
24 June 2010
The aural tests that are part of all practical ABRSM graded music exams will be slightly altered from 2011.
There will be one different test at Grade 1, and a small number of minor modifications across the grades that streamline the requirements following feedback from teachers and examiners.
Examples of the new tests will be made available online, and new support materials for teachers and candidates will be published from July 2010. ABRSM exams taken in 2010 will continue to use the existing aural tests, and the revised tests come into use on 1 January 2011.
Reviewing the tests
The aural tests syllabus has been reviewed in detail, with a small number of areas identified for revision to allow the tests to run more smoothly and become more approachable for the candidate.
The test descriptions and examiner rubrics (the form of words used in the exam) have been re-evaluated to make sure that they are as clear and unambiguous as possible. Particular attention has been given to making the rubrics as clear as possible for candidates whose first language is not English.
The new 1C Test
At Grade 1, it was felt that a slightly different 1C Test would provide a better starting point and more even progression to Grades 2 and 3. At present, candidates are asked to identify a change in the rhythm of a two-bar phrase. The experience of our examiners, combined with feedback received from teachers, is that identifying the change is problematic for a proportion of candidates, particularly the very young, even when they have clearly heard the difference.
From 2011, the 1C Test will ask candidates to simply identify whether a change of pitch affecting one note occurs near the beginning or near the end of a two-bar phrase. This is a more approachable way of assessing the aural skill, and provides a better step towards similar tests at Grades 2 and 3. A practice set of new 1C Tests can be found online at www.abrsm.org/aural.
Other minor modifications
There are a few further minor modifications that will have relatively little or no noticeable impact on candidates, as they simply streamline the requirements. These small changes to Tests 4C, 5C(i), 6C, 6D(i), 7C(ii), 7D(i), 8A(iii) and 8C are listed online at www.abrsm.org/aural.
Support material for teachers and students
Five volumes of Specimen Aural Tests will be published in July 2010. These resources cover all eight grades, and include a wide range of tests, syllabus descriptions of each activity and answers to tests (where appropriate). They will also feature the examiner rubrics, allowing teachers and students to prepare thoroughly for the exam experience.
Each volume will be available with or without CD recordings of all tests, which are designed for use in lessons and for students to use for personal practice at home.
To coincide with the publication of Specimen Aural Tests, a single set of mock tests for each grade will be made available as free audio downloads at www.abrsm.org/mockauraltests from July 2010. This resource is intended to provide practical introductory support by mirroring how a student would encounter the tests in their ABRSM exam.
In January 2011, three volumes of Aural Training in Practice will be published, with entirely new text and musical examples. These will include an �??overview�?? that sets out the educational and musical purpose of each test; a summary of the requirements for each grade; teaching hints and strategies for each test; and a set of practice exercises with answers to enable students to gain confidence with the activities.