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17 August 2019

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New Photo ID Requirement for UK Exams

According to a recent notification sent out to teachers in the UK, the ABRSM are introducing a new "Candidate Identification Policy" from January 2020. 

This will be required for those taking many of the higher level exams i.e:
Practical Exams - Grades 6-8
Jazz exams - Grade 5
Theory Exams Grades 5-8
ARSM diploma
 I assume the thinking behind this is to combat cheating. It is possible, for example to get someone else to do an exam for you, although the value of this seems to be illogical. Maybe the reason for using it in just the higher grades is that they are used for UCAS points for university entry and some less scrupulous students might try to cheat the system that way. 

By the way, the unusual inclusion of the Grade 5 Jazz exam would seem to be that it is an alternative to Grade 5 Theory as a prerequisite to doing Grades 6-8 Practical.

So, because of the unethical actions of a very small minority, there will an extra burden placed on the vast majority, not only with an extra layer of red tape, but also financially. 

From my own teaching experience, the majority of my students are under 18 and many do not have any form of photo ID. There will be many of course with passports, but that seems to discriminate against those who don't. There are optional ID cards available such as from, but this service costs an extra £15 on top of the already expensive exam fees.

Additionally, this process is not as easy as it sounds as they require two documents, one of which should  confirm your name and address, ie utility bill/bank statement/government issued letter such as HMRC or DWP/NHS letter. 
How many 12 year olds have a gas bill or tax letter in their name???
From my research, I note that this requirement is already in place in a few countries that offer ABRSM exams, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia, but there, minors already need to carry some form of photo id from the age of 12. 

At this moment in time, the exact form of ID has not been specified by the ABRSM and they will be publishing more details later in the year. Rest assured that I will keep you up to date on any developments and so that you don't miss the news you can subscribe to future posts on this blog with the form below

So what your your thoughts on this new requirement? An unnecessary layer of bureaucracy or a necessary step to stop a minority of those who would cheat the system? Please leave a comment below.


  1. I can see the thinking behind it, but it hadn't occurred to me that this would be an issue (which of course it is). ABRSM will have to put some thought into what documents would be acceptable, but it's difficult to get around the photo ID thing. (I work for a firm of solicitors and ID is very difficult for a number of adults too!)

  2. My pupil...aged 14...sitting Grade 7 singing..was asked for ID literally as she was about to enter the exam room. This was the first I had heard of this. Rather disconcerting for the pupil.


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