Prepare for an exam

Prepare for an exam

NMPAT acts as a host for music exams delivered by the world’s two leading providers of graded music exams: The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity College London. Each term hundreds of candidates are examined by visiting specialists from these two National Partners.

Exam boards

The exams are provided by two external agencies. You can find out more about them and their examination requirements here:

Venue and dates

NMPAT examination sessions are held at the Kettering Road Music and Arts Centre in Northampton. The dates below apply to candidates entered by NMPAT teachers only and will differ from the publicised dates on the relevant exam boards’ own websites.

All examinations are between 9am and 4pm on weekdays. Dates for Autumn 2019 academic year sessions are planned to be:

Exam Board Closing date Exam dates
13 September
w/c 18 November
Trinity College London
27 September
w/c 25 November; w/c 2 December (Brass); w/c 9 December (Woodwind)
TCL Rock & Pop
4 October
10 - 12 December

Appointment slips will be distributed to pupils by their teachers. Please note that it is very unlikely that we will be able to manage requests for changes of time at this stage.


Where an exam is to be accompanied, NMPAT provide an accompanist for examinations entered by an NMPAT teacher when entered in the above sessions.

  • Grades 1 to 5
    For accompaniment in the examination and a short warm up run through immediately before the exam
  • Grades 6 to 8
    For accompaniment in the examination, a 20 min pre rehearsal and a short warm up run through immediately before the exam

Please note that pre rehearsals for higher grade examinations will often be arranged at short notice and that it may not be possible to rearrange these.

Important note: All piano accompaniment books and music must be brought to the examination room. Where elements of an exam are to be accompanied by CD or MP3, particularly Jazz and Rock & Pop exams, the candidate must bring an original copy of the CD to the examination.

Exam entry process and payment

NMPAT teachers will enter pupils for their exam with the exam board through the NMPAT Office. You will be given a letter from the teacher advising that your child is ready to take their exam. Payment must be made by the date indicated by the teacher on your letter and the reply slip should be returned to the teacher confirming the payment date. The teacher will then submit your child’s details to be entered for the exam.

Payment needs to be made to NMPAT. To ensure security of payments for both pupils and teachers, these should be made online through Parent Pay.

"All children should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument"

You will be met at the exam room by a steward who is responsible for the smooth running of the day. You should aim to arrive at least 20 mins before your appointment. There will be an opportunity for you to warm up before the exam, once the previous candidate has gone to the exam room. This will be your opportunity to meet any accompanist.

The steward will take you to the exam room and introduce you to the examiner.

Each examiner will have a slightly different approach, but their intention is to help you perform to the best of your ability.

To avoid additional stress on the day, please be sure to bring everything you need. This will probably include:

  • Your appointment slip.
  • Your instrument.
  • All music including piano accompaniments. For Trinity College London exams, you will also need to provide a photocopy of your pieces to the examiner (these are destroyed after your exam).
  • Any original CD or MP3 backing tracks.
  • Essential maintenance equipment: valve oil, spare strings, etc.

Results will be distributed via the teachers and may take up to several weeks. The office will not have a copy of your result.

Certificates will be circulated via the teachers after the production of results.

If illness or injury prevents you from taking the exam, the exam board will consider give issuing a re-entry voucher to the value of 50% of the exam fee against re-entry either for the same, or next grade, upon production of a medical note within 30 days of the original exam date.

Please allow plenty of time to arrive for your exam, this helps you to keep as calm as possible.  If you encounter unexpected delays, please do not panic – ring the NMPAT Office on 01604 637117 and let us know – we can liaise with the steward and the examiner to adjust the timings wherever possible.

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