The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) was founded in 1920 with a single purpose: to raise the standards of dance teaching in the UK. 100 years later, excellence in dance teaching is still at the heart of everything they do. Today, the RAD is a world-leading dance, education, and training organization, with dance teachers and students in 85 countries, enriching the world’s arts and cultural communities. From three to 93-year olds, the RAD believes in the transformative power of dance to enhance our health and happiness.
Each year nearly a quarter of a million candidates participate in the RAD exams. The exams are optional and intended to promote and enhance a student’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for dance, as well as give them the opportunity to set personal goals and achievements in dance, and to be recognized and rewarded for their achievement.
RAD offers not just one, but three different types of examinations – Graded Exam, Class Award, and Solo Performance Award. All of the exam options are structured to accommodate growing bodies and all stages of a student’s development.
The two most common exams are the Graded Exam and the Class Awards, and contrary to “studio talk”, one is not a “better” exam than the other. Rather, each is designed with the stage the student is at when evaluated in class by their teacher.
Regardless of which exam the student is selected for, it is always ultimately for the benefit of the student having a positive experience.
RAD GRADED EXAM
RAD CLASS AWARDS
The RAD Class Award is a supported form of the same examination material as the RAD Graded Exam. It is marked in a less formal manner and the class teacher is present to provide extra support and assurance.
If your child is currently attending the number of lessons prescribed by RAD but is showing signs that they are not ready to handle the rigors of an examination, your ballet teacher may enter them for Class Awards instead. Some of these signals might be:
- During class they forget steps or the format of the exam work being taught;
- They might always race to the back of the class so they can copy others or so they aren’t easily seen;
- They may not have developed their technique to the same degree as their classmates and because of this are behind the counts in the music or a second behind the others as they try to master each movement;
- Not having the same level of technique, strength or flexibility as their classmates can undermine your child’s confidence;
- Their bodies might be growing faster than their friends making it harder for their brains to coordinate their bodies;
- They haven’t mastered the musicality of dancing and constantly need to follow others to keep in time.
- Their concentration, discipline, and patience is still developing
Please note that LABA reserves the right to pull a student from the exam at any time leading up to exam if the Directors deem they are not ready and/or not progressing as expected.
If your student decides they would like to participate in the RAD examinations, they will be expected to maintain and follow through on certain requirements, including but not limited to:
- continued consistent attendance in their classical ballet class
- participation in the mock (practice) RAD examinations
- possible private or small group lessons should the teachers feel extra practice is needed
If you feel that you and your student can maintain and follow through on these requirements we encourage you to enter them for the examination. Ballet testing provides motivation and encouragement for us all and helps us to maintain the high standard that LABA is known for.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the dress requirement for taking the examination?
The dress requirement for examination is the same as for class. Proper grooming and attire, in clean and good condition, must be worn on the day of examination. Students need to be in their class uniform leotard, ballet shoes, socks or tights, and alignment belt, with character skirt and character shoes for Graded levels. Hair must be smoothed and pulled back into a neat ballet bun.
When will my student take the examination?
The exact day and time of your student’s exam will be given to LABA approximately one month before our scheduled exam week. The studio will notify you once the exact schedule is received.
How long will the examination take?
Preparation for the exam and the time in the room usually takes about 1-1.5 hours, depending on the level. Your student will most likely need to leave their school to come to the studio to take the examination, so please also factor in travel time.
Does my child need to take the exam in order to move up to the next grade level?
For the lower RAD Grades, a student’s progression to the next grade level does not depend on them taking and passing the RAD Examination. However, for certain Vocational (Pre-professional) grade levels, the student does need to take and pass the RAD exam in order to advance to the next level.
My Child is doing the Class Award, but most of their friends are doing the Exam. Will they be left behind?
The great thing about RAD examinations is that other than meeting the minimum age there are no prerequisites to be able to register for the graded examinations. This means that if your student does the Class Award for Grade 1 for example, they can still try for the Grade 2 exam in the future without having completed the Grade 1 exam. Another option is after completing the class award during this round of assessments to either take the same grade as an exam during the next round of examinations in the same year if available.
Is the real reason my child is not doing the exam because our teacher only registers students they know will get a merit or distinction?
At the end of the day, teachers want to ensure their students are going to pass, not for their own ego, but for the physical and emotional well-being of the students. The examinations require such a high standard of technique and ability to pass that it some teachers may be cautious and only enter those students they are absolutely certain will pass and this might mean they only put forward students they feel will be in the Merit or Distinction vicinity. Recommending a student for an exam that they’re not prepared for can lead to potential injury, as well as undue emotional stress and anxiety. Both the Directors and teachers want to ensure that the exam process is one that the students will find enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding.
How are the RAD Graded Exams graded?
Reporting for examinations uses a standardized and aggregated point system to determine a fail (0-39), pass(40-54), merit (55-74) and distinction (75-100). The examination process, marking standards and syllabus are all transparent and available for download by students and parents at the RAD website.
How are the RAD Class Awards graded?
Class Awards are marked in a less detailed way with examiners giving the comment – Frequently, Generally, Occasionally and Not shown to about four components or sections of the exam. Examiners are looking for three key features overall which are coordination of student’s bodies, demonstrating correct timing and response to the music, and maintaining appropriate expression through their face and body. If a student receives a not shown in any section they are unsuccessful in achieving the class award, which is highly unlikely as your teacher would have entered your child knowing they could pass.