You can contact us from Monday to Friday by phone between 9am and 1pm and by email.
If you have an urgent enquiry about your online Music Theory exam please contact PSI Customer Support on the relevant telephone number found below under 'Customer support and technical enquiries'.
Online Music Theory exam guidelines
This page contains important information and checklists that will help candidates prepare for an online Music Theory exam. Please read this information carefully.
Under ‘Additional guidance’ at the bottom of this page you can find the following instructions and guides mentioned in the checklists:
RPNow proctoring software download and installation guide
Exam set up and reference guide
Applicants, candidates and responsible adults should read or view these before the exam.
Accessing and taking the exam
From August 2021, all candidates will access their online Music Theory exams via their own ABRSM accounts. Once the exam has been booked all candidates must register and create an ABRSM account, unless they have one already. The link to take the exam will only be available through the candidate’s ABRSM account.
Once the exam has been booked it may take up to three hours for the exam link to appear in the candidate’s ABRSM account. Once the link is there, candidates can take their exam on any date and at any time within 28 days of booking the exam.
There will be some dates and times when candidates cannot take an exam due to system updates taking place. Please check the list of dates below under ‘system unavailability’ before planning when to take an exam.
The only exam that will appear once a candidate has launched the exam is the real, live exam. Practice exams are not available via the RP Now proctoring software and are available on our website here.
Confidentiality of the exam content
The content of the exam must remain confidential and must not be photographed or reproduced in any way.
Checklists for the applicant, candidate and responsible adult
The applicant is the person who made the exam entry.
The candidate is the person taking the exam.
The responsible adult is there to accompany any candidates under the age of 18 or vulnerable adults. The responsible adult must be aged 18 or over.
Individual candidate: The responsible adult must be present in the room at the beginning of the exam and can stay in the exam room for the duration of the assessment if desired.
Multiple candidates: For any venues hosting multiple candidates, a responsible adult must be present for the whole exam.
You can read more about the role of the responsible adult, including what they should and shouldn’t do, here.
when candidates must take the exam - within 28 days of the booking being made.)
that the candidate must register for an ABRSM account to take the exam. They should do this using the link and Contact ID we provide by email immediately after booking.
that the exam is not held at one of our Public Venues but at a suitable location arranged by the candidate or the responsible adult (e.g. a candidate’s home or candidate’s school).
For candidates under 18 or vulnerable adults, obtain parental permission for the exam to be filmed. We do not require proof that parental permission has been sought as this is your responsibility as the applicant.
Advise candidate(s) to watch our video guides on completing a scan of the room where the exam will take place. The room scan is essential to ensure the exam takes place under exam conditions, in line with our rules and regulations.
Encourage candidates to try the practice exams available online here.
Encourage candidates or their responsible adult to read the candidate checklists in advance of the exam.
know when you must take the exam – within 28 days of the booking being made.
register for an ABRSM account using the link and Contact ID you will be provided by email immediately after booking.
understand that the exam is not held at one of our Public Venues but at a suitable location arranged by the candidate or the applicant (e.g. a candidate’s home or candidate’s school).
For candidates under 18 or vulnerable adults, check that parental permission has been given to the applicant for the exam to be filmed. We do not require proof that parental permission has been sought as this is the responsibility of the applicant.
Check that you can meet all the room and system requirements needed to take the exam. You should also test the compatibility of the computer equipment and internet connection being used for the exam by running this simple online check: PSI RPNow System Check. We recommend using Google Chrome as your web browser.
Watch our video guides on completing a scan of the room where the exam will take place.
Blank paper (plain or manuscript) and a pen or pencil to work out answers during the exam. Candidates will need to show both sides of their blank paper to the camera during their room scan. There must be no text, notation, or images on the paper. If there are, this will be noted by our proctors and may lead to a malpractice investigation and disqualification.
Time to complete all the ‘getting ready’ steps below, before the exam begins. We recommend allowing 15 to 30 minutes for this.
These steps need to be completed before the candidate can start the exam. You should aim to do this 15 to 30 minutes before the exam. Once the RP Now software has been launched a candidate will have 3 hours in which to start the exam.
No open books or depictions of musical notes in the room.
Cover any piano keyboards in the room.
Visit the toilet
If it’s essential that the candidate has a toilet break once the exam has started, this should be limited to once only and should be for a maximum of five minutes. Candidates must inform the online invigilator (proctor) that they are about to take a toilet break by looking at the camera and saying this out loud. They can also write this down and show the piece of paper to the camera. The exam recording should continue during this time.
Log on to the candidate’s ABRSM account and click ‘Start Music Theory exam’ on the dashboard. This will launch and install the RPNow Proctoring software that you need for the exam. Due to software updates, we recommend that you install the software each time you take an online Music Theory exam.
Follow these steps to complete the exam set up:
Make sure all other apps, programmes and browsers are closed.
Show the candidate’s Photo ID.
Perform the room scan. If your computer does not allow a 360 degree room scan you can use a mobile phone or digital camera – then play this footage back to the webcam. The recording of the room scan must be done during the room scan section of the exam set up so that we can confirm the room is suitable for the exam.
Take the candidate’s picture on the screen.
From this point on, the session will be recorded (desktop, webcam and audio), until the exam window is closed at the end of the exam.
Once the pre-exam set up is complete the candidate will be directed to their exam.
A timer in the right-hand corner of the exam screen will show how long candidates have to complete the exam. The countdown (in minutes) will not start until the candidate has started the actual exam.
Candidates who have been entered with access arrangements or reasonable adjustments should be aware of the extra time they have been provided. The timer for these candidates will include any extra time.
Candidates who have requested a translation of the exam will be provided an exam in that language. It is not possible to change this in the exam.
The responsible adult is allowed to leave and re-enter the exam room once the live exam has started as long as this does not disrupt the exam and they do not bring any prohibited items into the room.
Before closing the exam window at the end of the exam and stopping the recording, tear up any paper used in the exam. Candidates should do this in front of the camera so it can be seen clearly.
The exam will time out if a candidate is inactive for 30 minutes. If this happens the candidate will need to re-open the RPNow software, do the pre-exam checks and then log in again to finish their exam. This is only possible within 3 hours of first launching the software.
Official educational institutions can run exams with an invigilator without candidates being proctored. The educational institution must provide the invigilator.
You can find the required approval form and requirements here. However, if you are already registered as a Visit Organiser for Music Theory exams then all you need to do is email [email protected] requesting you also be given permission to run unproctored exams and you will not be required to submit an approval form again.
Once an applicant is approved:
We will provide the educational institution/applicant with an ‘invigilation key’. This should be provided to the invigilator but never shared with candidates taking the exam
Candidates launch the exam via their ABRSM account as usual but will not be asked to download the RPNow proctoring software
Candidates will be directed to a page asking them to enter an ‘invigilation key’. The invigilator will need to enter this for them. The candidate can then take their exam
If candidates need a physical paper-based exam due to access arrangements, this must be selected when the exam booking is made. We will then send their exam paper by post within two weeks of the booking being made. The candidate will still be filmed taking the exam but will not have access to an online version of the exam.
Please read this step-by-step guide to taking a paper-based exam due to access arrangements:
Immediately after making the booking the applicant or candidate should provide the address where the paper should be sent as well as supporting documentation confirming that a physical paper exam is required. Send this information to: [email protected]
We will then send the exam paper to the address supplied. The paper must stay sealed in its envelope until the time of the exam. The envelope should only be opened in front of the camera once the exam has started. If the envelope is opened before this then we cannot accept the completed paper and the mark will be void.
Once we have sent the paper, we will send an email to the candidate providing a link to the RPNow exam software, which they should download before taking the exam. (The candidate will not be able to launch the exam software from their ABRSM account.)
On the day of the exam the candidate should run through the usual pre-exam checks including completing a room scan and showing their photo ID.
The candidate will then see an instruction page. At this point they should open the sealed exam paper envelope in front of the camera and show all pages to confirm they are blank. Once they’ve done this, they can start the exam.
Once the candidate has completed their exam, they should put their completed exam paper in the return envelope provided by us and seal the envelope on camera to show it is not possible for anyone to amend the paper. This should then be returned to us for marking.
It is the candidate or responsible adult’s responsibility to ensure the exam time does not exceed the candidate’s allowance as no timer will be available on the screen. The length of the exam will be checked when proctored.
For any technical advice before or on the day of the exam, contact PSI Customer Support on the relevant telephone number below. We are setting up local rate numbers for territories where we are running exams but where this is not available, please use the general number: 1-617-564-9052.
Results will be available to the applicant four weeks after the exam. The exam will be marked automatically but results will only be available once the videos of the assessments have been reviewed.
We will email the applicant to let them know when they can log in to their ABRSM account to view results and the mark form giving a breakdown of marks.
Candidates with an ABRSM account will receive a results email seven days after the applicant.
We will send certificates will be sent to the applicant within two weeks of releasing results, subject to any checks we may need to make. For exams outside the UK and Ireland where we have a local representative , we will send certificates to the representative for local distribution.
If a candidate experienced any technical difficulties that prevented them from taking the assessment, the applicant must contact us within seven days of the exam date.
We are not able to adjust the outcomes of right/wrong answers in order to make allowances for a negative exam experience. However, we can consider a refund or opportunity to sit the exam again for free.
Candidates must not cheat in an ABRSM exam. This includes the use of prohibited items, collusion, and attempting to access the internet during the exam.
After the exam we will review internally all potential infringements raised by PSI proctors. We will investigate all incidents of suspected malpractice in line with our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.
Candidates will not receive results until our investigations are complete. If we find that malpractice has been committed, the candidate may be disqualified.
The two important videos below talk you through the pre-exam checks and navigating the online system.
Starting the exam, doing a room scan and showing candidate ID (pre-exam checks)
Where possible, the room candidates take the exam in should be free from notes, books of any kind, any depiction of musical notes and any representation of a piano keyboard as shown in the video.
If a candidate is not able to access a room free of these items, then all books should remain closed and out of reach, and any depiction of musical notation or representation of a piano keyboard, including an actual piano, should be covered so they are not visible.
Navigating the online system and example online questions