Royal Academy of Dance: Ballet Exam

What are RAD Examinations?
Royal Academy of Dance exams provide the opportunity for dancers to achieve their personal best, have fun, and receive recognition from the world’s largest examining organization.  The RAD exams preparing dancers for careers in dance, and give dancers the chance and abilities to compete on an international level.

The RAD Exams are meant to provide a structured approach to dance, where one level builds upon another, creating a solid foundation in dance that is applicable to all modern dance genres. The Exams give students a goal to work towards and added motivation while providing a standard that is universal and structured.

For the Pre-School level the Academy’s goal is to nurture and help children gain confidence. Their demonstration class is non-graded, hence the child cannot fail. As long as the child is able to demonstrate the work in the presence of the examiner in a formal setting, the child will receive a certificate of achievement for their effort.

Will my child be graded on the exam?
The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), stresses that each student should have an achievable goal. This is measured either by an annual RAD Examination/Class Awards.

For the Pre-School level (Pre-Primary Ballet and Primary Ballet), the RAD offers the “Demonstration Class” for students who need the teacher’s support to present their work to the RAD Examiner.  They will not be graded.

For Grade 1 through 5 students. They have the option to enter as an Exam candidate, which is a graded exam; Pass, Fail, Merit or Distinction OR enter as a “Class Awards” student who needs teacher support to present their work to the RAD Examiner. Subsequently, a ballet instructor will facilitate the session and the student will not be graded.

Who decides the RAD Exam date and time for each student?
All exam scheduling is done by RAD CANADA and approved by RAD, UK. Exam/presentation class dates can occur on a school days. The RAD UK office determines when the examiner arrives, which days the testing will occur, and which times each registered student will be tested.

Exam schedules cannot be changed and students have individual IDs, thus swapping test times with another student is prohibited. Upon request, an excuse note for school attendance can be provided and certified by an RAD Registered Teacher if the student will be missing a portion of their school day. While we cannot guarantee the date of the exam year by year, we have generally had our RAD examination dates in February or March.

What are the possible RAD Exam results? When do we receive the results of the RAD Exams?
For Graded Ballet, RAD Exam results are one of the following: Fail, Pass, Merit, or Distinction.

Dancers are given scores in various areas such as timing, musicality, alignment, etc. Points are added together for a total out of 100.

Grades are as follows:
75-100 points = Distinction (gold)
55-74 points = Merit (silver)
40-54 points = Pass (bronze)

While scores are based on a 100 point system, candidates are scored very differently from standard academic grades— a score of 77 at school may result in a “C” but for a ballet exam, a 77 is a very good score and is considered to be very challenging to achieve. To put it into perspective, distinction scores in the 90’s are almost unheard of in RAD examinations.

An individual test score sheet provides details of the RAD Exam.  The RAD examiner’s evaluations are sent to the RAD for review before they are released and sent to a certified school.  RAD sends us a preliminary summary to verify that all student names are spelled correctly before they prepare the actual certificates.

The final test score sheets and RAD certificates are then mailed to our school in the Summer. An email will be sent to all students once the report cards and certificates are received and are ready for pick up at our studio. Students who pass their exams will receive a RAD Exam Certificate along with their test score sheets. Teachers receive a list of scores but scores are never made public. Parents and dancers are discouraged from discussing scores with friends. Exams are not meant to be a competition between dancers but rather to encourage each dancer to strive for his or her personal best.

For the Preschool level, the Academy’s and LDA’s goal is to nurture and help children gain confidence. Their demonstration class is non graded, hence the child cannot fail. As long as the child is able to demonstrate the work in the presence of the examiner in a formal setting, the child will receive a certificate of achievement for their effort.

Are students guaranteed to pass the RAD Exam? Does the RAD Exam score indicate how well a student is doing in the class?
Attending the required number of classes per week does not guarantee that School Age students will pass the RAD Exams. Vocational examinations are difficult and become even more so with each level. Some vocational students should be satisfied with a “pass” score and not worry about receiving a “distinction.”

Our instructors are responsible for students knowing the syllabus work by a certain deadline, and for helping each student achieve the highest RAD Exam score based on their individual potential. Often students question why instructors ask them to do the same exercises repeatedly. It is important to note that knowing the basic movement itself is not enough; repetition brings about subtle changes to refine their movements. We take pride in our efforts in cultivating the best results in each of our students.

RAD Exams provide a standard, but they should not be considered as the only measure of success. Each child’s potential is displayed uniquely and in different performance settings. Parents should not judge students solely upon the RAD Exam score as to how well they are doing in class. For example, a student may not have felt well the day of the exam or had some nerves in the exam room. More often what we see is that some students just need more time for their bodies to develop and mature. Periodic growth spurts or weight gain during the middle school years can by especially frustrating for students as they struggle to maintain their current skills while adjusting to their growing bodies. Sometimes those who are slow to develop actually become the strongest dancers.

Exam scores reflect a performance on a given day. Exam scores also provide a basis for objectively filling roles in our school production. RAD Exam results are not the only criteria used, as instructor recommendations are also considered along with the commitment of both the student and family.

The mission of RAD is to develop a love and enjoyment of this beautiful art form and to bring out the best in each child regardless of body type and ability. To discourage a child from dancing because their scores are not as high as it’s expected to be is to truly defeat the purpose of the school, which is to nurture the individual as a person first.

Very few go on to become professional dancers, but they come away with a body that improves with respect to strength, coordination and balance. They develop self-discipline which benefits them in college and later in the work place. For many, it builds self-esteem and develops a love for the arts that will last a life-time and contribute to many enjoyable hours at the theatre.

If my child has just started ballet and they are invited, should he/she take the exam?
Yes! If he/she gets an invitation, that means the teacher has assessed the consistent attendance and your child’s ability as an independent learner. Participating in the RAD exam provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment upon completion. Each participant will receive a certificate for completing the presentation/exam. It is also a great way to get him/her into a performance setting.

Who is conducting the exam?
All exams and awards are assessed externally by a highly qualified RAD trained examiner who follows strict quality assurance procedures. One of the panel of 200 examiners, based in 25 countries around the world who have been appointed, trained and monitored by the RAD, will be flown in from Europe, South Africa, North America, South America, or Asia to conduct the exam.

How long is the exam/demonstration Class?
Depending on your level generally is between 30 – 45 minutes long. However, all dancers must be present 20 minutes prior their scheduled time. Once the examiner rings the bell, no students are allowed into or out of the testing room as it will disrupt the focus of other dancers in the room.

Will my child’s teacher be in the room with my child?
Depending on the type of exam. For ages 4 to 5 years old, Miss Lana will be facilitating the session and guiding the students to demonstrate their performance, and they are not graded. Miss Lana will be in the studio with this group of dancers and the format will be just like their regular weekly classes.

Primary Ballet dancers have the option with the dancer to perform in front our examiner without an instructor in the room.

Can parents watch the exam?
The goal of the exam is for the examiner to evaluate the work demonstrated by the children to make sure that the highest classical standard in achieved through the teaching of their teacher. Therefore, it will be a closed door session, and all parents will be asked to wait outside of the studio during presentation/exam times.

During the school year however, parents are welcome to relax in our lobbies and watch their child dance our viewing areas! We also have special viewing weeks where parents are invited into the studio to watch the class and a presentation up close!

Is my child the appropriate age for the exam?
If you child is enrolled in Pre-Primary or Primary ballet or higher, yes! For dancers ages 4-5 the Exam is a demonstration class, no different than what they do every week. Development of their performance aptitude is a big goal of ours, and the exam is a format that will help them excel in their confidence levels to perform in a formal fashion. They will have the security of having Miss Lana or another teacher in the studio with them.

Why take Demonstration Class with the RAD?
RAD examinations provide students with an achievable goal to work towards. The exams also provide recognition from the world’s largest ballet examination board who are accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in England. The certificate is globally recognized and is a fantastic component to build up your child’s resume and portfolio.

What does my child wear for their RAD examination?
Your child should be dressed in their LDA ballet uniform as if they are coming to a normal ballet class or exam class, with ballet shoes and their hair properly secured in a ballet bun and hairnet.

Make-up, nail polish, jewelry or loose hair is prohibited.  Their uniform should be clean and pressed, and tights should not have any visible runs, or rips, or stains.  We sell tights and bodysuits at the studio and will have plenty of ballet exam tights available for purchase prior to the exam.

When do students register for the RAD Exams?
If your child is invited to the exam class you will be notified by the beginning of October.  After this, we will register your child for another ballet exam class (Once a week) from October – February, in addition to their regular Ballet class. If your child is registered in the Ballet Exam class, they will be automatically submitted by our staff for the ballet examination in Spring.

RAD requires that registration for RAD Examinations and Presentation Classes be submitted in December in order to allow enough time for processing.

For more information from the Royal Academy of Dance please click here

Please feel free to reach out and contact us with any questions you may have about this program!