Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Reasonable adjustments in music exams


Did you know that it is possible for candidates who are dyslexia, dyspraxic or have other Specific Learning Difficulties/neuro-diverse conditions to have certain adjustments made in the music exams run by ABRSM, Trinity College, London College of Music, Rockschool and any other smaller boards?
B.D.A. Music has worked closely with some of these boards to produce a ‘best practice’ document with guidelines on what can and should be done for such candidates. It is always necessary to have some sort of proof that the candidate is (for example) dyslexic and B.D.A. Music or the exam boards can help you sort out what you need here. Do contact

A summary of some of the adjustments that are usually available includes
·         All information about reasonable adjustments should be very clearly signposted.
·         The range of options should be clearly given (and see below).
·         Information should include the point that proof and documentation can take some time to obtain and must be given at the time of entry & certainly before the exam day
·         Supporting documentation should not be required after the first submission.
·         Details of required documentation should be outlined.
·         Contact details for further information should be clearly given.
·         The term ‘Specific Learning Difficulties’ should always be used, rather than ‘learning difficulties’

The examination
·         Examiners, invigilators and stewards should be briefed about the requirements of disabled candidates, including those with SpLDs.
·         Replays of scales allowed without penalty (1st occasion).
·         Additional attempts at aural without penalty.
·         Right-hand/left-hand instructions should include pointing.
·         Examiners should be prepared to point to the place in sight reading if a candidate gets lost.
·         Changes in the score in aural tests can be marked by raising the hand.
·         Acceptance of alternative terms for cadences and scale descriptions.
·         Statement from MPA re legality of photocopying music for ease of reading, should be reproduced
·         Avoid comments relating to reasonable adjustment on report form.
·         Publicise alternative exams (to ‘grades’).
·         No marks to be lost in written exams for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
·         Ignore need to copy out in written exams.

Options available as reasonable adjustments should include
·         Taking the components of the exam in the candidate’s preferred order.
·         Extra time (normally at least 25%) available.
·         Sight-reading, aural, theory and other written tests/information (including diplomas) available in various modified formats including
o   Tinted paper including such paper for rough working and note taking.
o   Enlargement.
o   Modified stave notation.
·         Alternative options to sight-reading or quick study.
·         Alternative options to aural tests.
·         Instructions (scales; aural; vivas etc) to be written down and/or repeated by candidate and limited in number.
·         Use of scale book/words for singers as a prompt.
·         Splitting of aural memory tests into shorter sections.
·         Use of reading ruler or pen.
·         Performance from modified copies or electronic device.
·         Report form typed up.
·         The presence of a supporting person/practical assistant in the exam room.
·         Use of computer (and music software) in written exams.
·         Use of a reader in written exams.
·         Separate room for written exams.
·         Use of an amanuensis.

For further information and/or a copy of the full ‘reasonable adjustments: best practice’ document, please contact

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