Introducing the RSL Awards digital marksheets and understanding the revised assessment criteria for Musical Theatre Performance Arts Award.

We want to demystify the examining process so that teachers and candidates can prepare for their exam, fully understanding our approach to assessment. There is no change to the learning outcomes, overall standards, or level of achievement expected from candidates at each grade.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes indicate what a learner should know, understand or be able to do, if they successfully pass a qualification.

There are 3 learning outcomes in PAA Musical Theatre exams (these have not changed):

  • LO1 Perform in a group piece of musical theatre
  • LO2 Demonstrate technical skills relevant to musical theatre
  • LO3 Understand individual content and context in musical theatre
(At Premiere level, candidates are only assessed against LO1 and LO3.)

Assessment Criteria

Assessment Criteria describe how we assess the learning outcomes (ie. how a candidate demonstrates in an exam that the learning outcomes have been achieved). They are applied to each discipline (acting, singing and dancing) and each is considered / marked separately. The combination of assessment criteria marks gives the total mark for each discipline.

Revised Assessment Criteria

Below is an overview of the PAA Musical Theatre revised assessment criteria. For more detail on the Learning Outcomes, Attainment Bands, Weighting and Grading Criteria, please refer the Marking Guidance document. Teachers and candidates can find full details of the assessment criteria at each grade by referring to the full syllabus. Both documents are downloadable here

Assessment Criteria Overview – Technique:

Use of facial expression and voice, appropriate to the mean- ing and mood of the text is expected at all grades. As grades progress, requirements include vocal modulation, projection, phrasing, physical characterisation, movement and gesture.Audibility is expected at all grades. As grades progress, requirements include timing, pitch, rhythmic awareness, articulation, phrasing, intonation, breath control and resonance.Coordination and timing is expected at all grades. As grades progress, requirements include rhythmic and spatial awareness, control, alignment, core stability, balance and dynamic variation.

Assessment Criteria Overview – Performance:

An understanding of the text is expected at all grades, and accurate word memory from Debut. As grades progress, requirements include interpretation, an understanding of character, emotions, subtext, period, style and a sense of spontaneity.An understanding of the meaning and mood of the song is expected at all grades. As grades progress, requirements include an awareness of character, intention, dynamic variation, communication to the audience and stylistic understanding.An understanding of the mood of the music is expected at all grades. As grades progress, requirements include characterisation, musical interpretation, communication to the audience.

Awarding Marks

Marks are related entirely to the assessment criteria. They are determined by the extent to which they are evidenced by the candidate.

  • Criteria achieved to an acceptable, or mostly acceptable, standard: PASS
  • Criteria achieved to a proficient, or mostly proficient, standard: MERIT
  • Criteria achieved to a consistently high standard throughout, or almost throughout: DISTINCTION

Digital Marksheets & Assessment Criteria – Musical Theatre PAA

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 element 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.

Digital Marksheets & Assessment Criteria – Musical Theatre PAA