We've collated our most frequently asked questions surrounding our PAA Graded Syllabuses and Exam Content. For PAA Operational and Administrative FAQs, please click here...
For UK exams this contact will be by phone two to three working days before the exam date. For international exams it will be by email approximately seven days before the exam. The examiner may also provide an emergency contact number.
The examiner will not contact the school/venue prior to recorded video exams, unless:
Examiners will arrive at the venue 30 minutes before the first scheduled exam. Principals / venue representatives are required to meet with the examiner and go through an ‘arrival check-list’ with them. This is to ensure the smooth running of the exam day.
Candidates being assessed must wear a number on their front and back. Numbers must be provided by the school/venue and are not provided by RSL.
A member of staff must be present for the Group Performance, and any component of the exam that requires the operation of music equipment (or a starting note/clapped rhythm). A member of staff must be on hand to support the organisation of candidates and to chaperone them when waiting outside the exam room for the Technical Skills/Understanding & reflection components.
If a Musical Theatre candidate can’t perform an element of the exam (eg. dance) on the day due to injury, they can choose not to take the exam and we can issue a refund with written medical evidence. If the candidate chooses to complete other components of the exam (eg. they decide to do the acting and singing but not the dancing) the examiner will not be able to assess the element they have missed and this would be reflected in their mark. Note that the school/venue may apply for Special Considerations as per the RSL policy, which can be found here.
For Premiere candidates only, one prompt and/or minor hesitancy is accepted and will not impact the candidate's final mark. Multiple prompts or excessive hesitancies will result in the mark being impacted. From Debut, candidates are expected to perform fully from memory. If prompting is required by grades Debut-8 candidates, the degree to which the mark is impacted will depend on the number of prompts and/or lapses in fluency.
For Acting exams, the examiner will prompt the candidates if essential to the continuance of the performance.
Q: It says in the syllabus that the examiner can assess a maximum of 8 candidates at any one time. It’s likely that I'll have somewhere between 16-24 pupils take part so would this mean that we'll have to perform 2 or 3 times?
A: The syllabus guideline of 8 candidates is to indicate how many candidates can be examined at once within the timeframe specified in the syllabus for that grade. If you have larger groups, we will likely send more than one examiner so more than 8 candidates can be assessed at once within that time. Note that examiners may ask for sections of the performance to be repeated.
Q: Who operates the music in the exam?
A: Schools/venues provide the music operator, who should operate the music in the exam and provide all of the music tracks. However, for the Street Dance freestyle and the Jazz Dance improvisation (Levels 2/3), the examiner will provide the music track because it must be unknown to the candidates. The compulsory music for the Musical Theatre Debut technical demonstration is available free of charge here...
Q: For which parts of the exam is an audience allowed?
A: An audience is permitted for the Group Performance only. Audiences are not permitted for the Technical Skills Demonstration or Understanding & Reflection components.
Q: Can I combine grades within the same performance?
A: This is not advised. The Performance component should adhere to the minimum requirements in terms of duration and complexity of steps for the specific grade taken. If candidates of different grades perform the same routine(s) together, it would need to be choreographed at the level of the highest grade in the group, so candidates taking lower grades would be disadvantaged.
Q: Can individual candidates take a Dance exam?
A: Solo Street Dance exams are possible at grades Premiere to 5; however, at grades 6-8 a minimum of two candidates is required. This is because the freestyle component is in the form of a ‘battle’, which requires at least two dancers.
Solo Jazz Dance exams are possible at all grades.
It’s important to note that there is a minimum half-day fee for face-to-face and live video exams, so lower candidate numbers may be expensive for schools to facilitate, and are accordingly not advised. There is no minimum fee for recorded video exams.
Q: What's the minimum number of candidates for a Dance recorded video exam?
A: There must have a minimum of three and a maximum of eight candidates per exam.
Q: What is the minimum/ maximum number of candidates in Musical Theatre exams?
A: A minimum of two candidates is required for Musical Theatre. There are two exam formats – Group Exam and Show Exam.
A Group Exam is typically a class of students at a similar grade level. Examiners can assess up to eight candidates at any one time; if there are more than eight the performance must be repeated.
Therefore, usually there are no more than 16 in a group. If the Group Exam consists of candidates at different grades, the performance must meet the minimum duration for the highest grade in the group.
A Show Exam is typically a large group/whole school of more than 25 candidates. Two or more examiners may attend. Candidates must perform for the minimum duration required at the grade for which they are entered.
For both exam formats, examiners may ask candidates to repeat sections of the performance if clarification is needed.
Please refer to page 18 of the syllabus.
Q: Can individual candidates take a Musical Theatre exam?
A: No. Musical Theatre exams must have a minimum of two candidates. Note that there is a minimum half-day fee for face-to-face and live video exams so lower candidate numbers may be expensive for schools to facilitate and are accordingly not advised. There is no minimum fee for recorded video exams.
Q: How do I select appropriate Musical Theatre repertoire for my candidates?
A: Firstly, take a look at the ‘Suggested Repertoire’ resource on the webpage. This provides repertoire suggestions and will also enable you to select alternative repertoire more confidently. RSL does not provide compulsory repertoire lists because we want teachers to select repertoire suitable for their particular students depending on their strengths and what they love to perform!
Q: Do Musical Theatre candidates present a full production with costume and lighting etc?
A: It’s not necessary to stage a high-tech production unless you want to or you are already planning to do this. Show Exams (where the whole school performs together) and Group Exams (where smaller groups, usually of similar age or grade, perform together) can be presented in school uniform or plain clothing in a rehearsal room/studio. Exam material can be short sections from published works, a mixture of songs/numbers from various different works or original work written specifically for your students. It’s up to you.
Q: Can I combine grades within the Musical Theatre Group Performance?
A: Yes, this is no problem. If you are doing group exams, the length of performance must be at the minimum requirement for the highest grade in the group
Q: At the moment we only have one student taking grade 2; should this stay the case, can we have another (non-examined) student come into the Technical Skills Demonstration to be their pair?
A: Yes, this is no problem. The candidate will wear a number on their front and back but the non- examined student will not wear any numbers.
Q: Who chooses the Technical Skills discipline for the exam?
A: For Grades 1-5 the teacher must choose the technical discipline for each grade, as candidates in the same grade group must demonstrate the same technical skill. Candidates taking Grades 6–8 can choose themselves which discipline they would like to demonstrate.
Q: Can I pre-arrange the twos/threes for the Acting Technical Skills Demonstration?
A: No. For grades 1-5, if Acting is chosen for a grade group to demonstrate, the examiner will put the candidates within that group into twos/threes for their scenarios on the day. Therefore, candidates should be prepared to work with any other candidate within their grade group.
Q: Will candidates all do their technical skills demonstrations in the same room?
A: Candidate should perform their technical skills demonstration in their grade groups (as chosen by the teacher), and will be asked to enter the exam room in grade order. Note that for Show Exams, where there is a large number of candidates with more than one examiner, each examiner will need a separate room to be made available for the Technical Skills Demonstration/ Understanding & Reflection to take place.
Q: For the Grade 4 and 5 Acting Technical Skills Demonstration scenarios, what kind of previously unknown element will the examiner give to the candidates?
A: At Grade 4, the examiner will provide each candidate with a character status to be considered during the scenario.
Example scenario: A and B are in the same class at school. At break time they are discussing whose fault it was that they got into trouble.
Example character status given by the examiner: Both A and B are confident and popular.
At Grade 5, the examiner will provide each candidate with a character objective to be considered during the scenario.
Example scenario: A and B are doing work experience in a shop. A customer has just left the shop and A realises they have charged the customer the wrong price.
Example character objective given by the examiner: A wants to keep quiet about it. B wants to tell the supervisor.
Q: For singing, can I use a karaoke backing track that has vocals on it?
A: No, we advise against this as it can work to the detriment of the candidate as it becomes more difficult for the examiner to make an accurate and fair judgement about the candidate’s singing.
Q: What kind of questions will the examiner ask in the ‘Understanding & Reflection’ component of the exam?
A: Candidates will be asked to share ideas on the given topic. Topics are based on the performance seen in the examination, and are listed in the syllabus specifications at each grade. Below is a selection of topics (listed in the order they first appear in the syllabus), with examples. These examples are intended as an indication of what may be asked, and are not exhaustive: