Introducing the RSL Awards Digital Marksheets and understanding the Assessment Criteria.


RSL Awards is proud to announce that from the 4th May all Rockschool Graded Music Exams (excluding Theory and Music Production) and Performing Arts Awards Musical Theatre qualifications will be marked by examiners digitally. We wanted to highlight a few of the reasons why we have made this change and the benefits that it will give candidates.

It’s worth pointing out from the start that this work has taken over 18 months of refinement and testing to ensure that the standards we apply in exams remain unchanged. However, the processes behind the exams will enhance our customer service and the experience of the candidates.

We want to demystify the examining process so that teachers and candidates can prepare for their exam really understanding our approach to assessment.

Learning Outcomes

There are 3 learning outcomes in Rockschool graded music exams.

  • Be able to perform music in popular musical styles.
  • Be able to demonstrate technical ability on an instrument/voice through responding to set technical demands.
  • Be able to demonstrate musical understanding through a range of set tests.

Graded Examinations reference all three learning outcomes, whereas Performance Certificates only require the first outcome to be met.

What are Assessment Criteria?

  • Assessment Criteria are how we assess the learning outcomes.
  • They are applied to evidence musical outcomes at progressing grades. Each criteria is equally weighted.
  • Each is considered / marked separately.
  • The combination gives the total mark for each piece/supporting test.

Assessment Criteria

1. Command of Instrument

The quality of the sound produced from the instrument, including the consistency of sound/tone, control of sound/tone commensurate with grade.

2. Sync or Pulse

Alignment of the performance to backing track, metronome or applied to a solo performance, observing notation markings. For unaccompanied pieces candidates should maintain a secure internal pulse and adjust the pulse where instructed within the music.

3. Accuracy and Understanding

Representing the written notation accurately, except by instruction through performance notes, or interpreting the written part with equivalent skills demonstrated. Secure understanding of musical structure evidenced through transitions of phrases, bars and sections.

4. Style and Expression

An expressive and commanding performance of the notated material dictated by the demands of the performance piece.

Awarding Marks

When we award marks, we relate entirely to the assessment criteria. The mark is determined by extent to which the average is evidenced overall.

  • Criteria achieved SOME of the time: PASS (‘OK’)
  • Criteria achieved MOST of the time: MERIT (‘GOOD’)
  • Criteria achieved ALL of the time: DISTINCTION (‘EXCELLENT’)

The overall mark is determined by extent to which the average is evidenced overall.

For the updated PAA Musical Theatre Learning Outcomes, Attainment Bands, Weighting and Grading Criteria, please click here...

Assessment Criteria & Digital Marksheet Information Pack


The Benefits of Digital Marksheets

Moving to digital marksheets has a number of advantages for candidates and teachers:

Clearer and Easier to Understand

We want our exams to be as accessible as possible for all candidates. To enhance our approach, we have separated each of the elements of the exam into assessment criteria that are easy to understand – the examiner will give candidates a grade for each of these elements which will combine to create a final score.

Speed of Results

Using a digital marksheet allows our examiners to upload results directly to a candidate’s profile on the RSL Awards site, rather than posting a hard copy report form. There are still rigorous quality checks to go through, but, we are confident that candidates will see their results quicker.

Environmental Benefits

An added benefit, and something we are very committed to, is the reduction in paper use and the carbon impact of transporting marksheets. These enhancements to our process will save hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper being transported across the world.


We don’t believe that the way we examine should be kept secret. By being completely transparent about the elements of a performance we are grading, we hope that teachers and candidates will be able to focus on their preparation for examinations. In time, we hope that this will reduce any anxious or nervous feelings as candidates take exams and benchmark their learning.

No matter what the outcome, RSL Awards exams should be a positive part of the learning process, affirming the progress of a student and giving them clear goals to try and achieve.

Consistency Across Instruments

Within the Rockschool Grades, all instruments will now be marked with the same consistent use of assessment criteria, across all grades. We hope that this will help teachers or candidates who teach/ study multiple instruments.

For more information on our digital marksheets, assessment criteria, a full breakdown of how marks are awarded alongside a list of frequently asked questions, please download our information pack by hitting the button below.

Assessment Criteria & Digital Marksheet Information Pack