Taking yearly examinations for most students is an integral element of studying the piano, that contributes to the learning process. Exams motivate students and help them work towards achieving the goal. Exams help both the student and the teacher to stay on track, and not to overlook studying such important elements of study as Music Theory, Sightreading and Technique ( Scales, Arpeggios)
(CM) Certificate of Merit Exams is the most popular assessment system in California. Examinations are offered from Preparatory level to the Advanced Level. Usually each level in CM exams corresponds to the grade level that the student is at school. So, if a student is in 3 grade at school, most likely he will be enrolled in grade 3 CM. Sometimes students can be ahead or behind, depending on each particular case.
CM exams include Theory assessment taken separately before the piano exam. Therefore, study of Theory is required for every student planning to enroll in CM examinations.
In addition to the Repertoire ( pieces), students need to practice Technique ( scales, arpeggios, etc) , Ear Training and Sight Reading. All these are very important components of a successful learning process that assure well-balanced piano education.
ABRSM exams are one of the most prestigious music assessment programs in the world. They are recognized as the golden standard in evaluating musical achievement in over 90 countries, including the US. Examinations are offered to students of all ages and all levels of proficiency, from the young beginner to the advanced diplomas. Students enter the examinations by preparing a special program of select repertoire and technical requirements such as scales and arpeggios. They are also tested on aural skills, such as sight reading and sight singing, etc. What I appreciate most about these exams is the high level of their administration and recognition not only on the state level, but on the international level. I also see great advantage in the policy of allowing students to use their music during the evaluation, which eliminated unnecessary fear of forgetting the music.