Graded Music Exams 21 May, 2014

Understanding the world of UCAS points and graded exams

Understanding UCAS points is a bit of a mind-field to say the least. You know they are important and know they will help you to progress into the career path you want to pursue, but how does it all work?


This is your quick guide on how UCAS points work with graded exams and how your child can use them for their university or college application.



What are UCAS points?

The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) is a tariff system Universities use as a numeric representation of the qualifications a student holds. UCAS points serve as a standardised measure of academic achievement in the United Kingdom translating grades into a common currency for university admissions.


How do graded exams help with UCAS points?

For students who undergo graded examinations such as Rockschool music exams or PAA performing arts graded exams, there is an opportunity to gain UCAS points at the Level 3 grades (grades 6-8). This is ideal for those students who take extra-curricular activities.


How can UCAS points help with university or college applications?

Graded examinations also demonstrate to universities that the applicant is a well-rounded individual. In an increasingly competitive academic landscape, it is easy for a student’s application to begin to look identical to others as many students take the same or similar subjects. Passing graded examinations in musical instruments (including music theory and music production), dance, musical theatre, speech or drama differentiates students from the influx of other applications. Success in these graded examinations communicates your exceptional skill and performance abilities to universities, offering a distinctive edge in the admissions process.


Tips on how to highlight graded achievements in your University or college application

Achieving a distinction, merit or pass in any graded exam is a momentous achievement but how do you highlight these accolades in your university application? The best place to include your music or performing arts grade results is in your personal statement. Within your personal statement, you can demonstrate how achieving your grade has enhanced your people-skills and life-skills that cannot be learned from textbooks.

Below we’ve included some tips on how to mention your music or performing arts grades in your personal statement.

Tip number 1:

Describe how graded exams demonstrate the dedication needed to excel in higher education

As a student undertaking graded exams, a level of dedication is required in order to gain the qualification. RSL’s graded exams such as Rockschool music qualifications or PAA qualifications could include both technical and performance elements ensuring that performers work towards the same standard expected of professional performers in the industry. To achieve a pass, merit or distinction in these grades, students are required to engage in consistent practice whether at home, in private rehearsals, or homing in on drills in a 1-on-1 tutor lesson. Students who undergo music and/or performing arts grades usually do so outside of the usual school schedule, making them excellent candidates for the university student who will go the extra mile to achieve in higher education.

Tip number 2:

Describe how graded exams demonstrate excellent time management skills

Time management is one of the most coveted life –skill and many university students struggle to balance their new responsibilities with the deadlines and expectations of higher education. Students who study and achieve music and performing arts grades have an advantage as they have mastered the delicate balance of school and extra-curricular activities. As a student that has successfully gained music and/or performing arts grades, you can assure the prospective university that you not only have great time management skills, but you are also able to excel with multiple responsibilities, making you an asset to university.

Tip 3:

Describe how performing in a group ensemble or band shows teamwork

University is not only about the subject matter that you study but also the academic connections that you make and the network you build. Collaborating on group projects are often the origins of world-changing initiatives, so the ability to work well within a team is the hallmark of many successful organisations. As a performer, you are often collaborating with others to produce excellent work and a performance. As a creative performer you can demonstrate in your personal statement that you have the calibre to become an outstanding thought-leader as your work in ensembles has produced the skill of teamwork not found in textbooks.

In Summary

In summary, universities simply want to know why you would be a great student to enrol on their courses. But also remember that you are a stellar student to have in any university. When writing your personal statement and attending university interviews, remember all the things that make you unique and don’t be afraid to showcase your achievements. You’ve worked hard to get this far, so now it’s time to sing about it (pun intended).

Find out more about UCAS points and how many UCAS points you can earn from your graded music or performing arts qualifications.

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