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Remote Theory Exams FAQ

Please read through our answers to some frequently asked question about how Remote Theory Exams work, as well as changes being implemented in the examination process due to social distancing requirements. This FAQ is related to Theory Levels 5 to 8 and History Levels 9 to ARCT, but not Harmony, Harmony/Counterpoint or Analysis. Please consult this page regularly, as we will keep updating the information as new questions come in and further clarifications are made. 

  • Why are Theory/History Exams not taking place in person?
    As ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 continues, the safety of our RCM students, parents, and teachers remains a priority. As a result, all practical and theory exams will be completed online. This decision will ensure that students are able to continue with their music education and complete their exams as planned.

    Please review this page for specifics regarding what is happening for your subject and level.
  • How can I access the online study guides, courses and exams? When do I have to do the tests and/or exams?
    You can access your online study guides, courses, and exams through your My RCM Account

    You will have one year to complete your exam from the date of purchase, but those candidates who wish to be considered for academic credit, graduation or Gold Medal consideration for the 2020 academic year will need to submit their exam no later than June 30, 2021.  
  • I can't access my theory exam/I need a password reset

    Please email [email protected] with your first and last name, RCM number (starts with 2 numbers and a letter) or exam confirmation number (starts with a 4), and exam name and level.

  • How will proctoring work? Will I still receive my credit and certificate?

    In-person proctoring for Theory Levels 5 - 8 and History 9 - ARCT will be replaced during this period by online monitoring. Credits and certificates will be awarded following the normal procedures. Nonetheless, for extra reassurance and peace of mind, if you wish, a parent in the household may sign on as a proctor by submitting this form. This is optional and not a requirement for receiving credits and certificates.  There is no Zoom or other videoconferencing supervision during the exam.

    Advanced Theory (Harmony, Counterpoint, Analysis) exams and all Speech Arts Theory and History exams will be conducted via a Zoom classroom with an online proctor.

  • Are the online exams open book exams? Can we use notes, a keyboard diagram, or the piano?

    Just like the paper exams, these online exams are not “open book” exams.  As such, please refrain from using notes or the piano. As with in-person written examinations, a keyboard diagram for reference during Theory Level 5 to 8 exams is permitted.

    You may use rough paper to make notes to help you answer questions after you begin the tests or exams. For instance, in Music Theory, you may draw a circle of fifths diagram before beginning to answer your questions.

    Please note that the test and exam time limits do not allow for spending time searching online for answers or consulting notes. Doing so may lead to not having enough time to complete all the questions in the exams.

  • How do the Level 5 to 8 Online Theory Study Guide unit tests and final exam take place? Do I have to complete them all in one sitting?

    The Theory Level 5 to 8 online study guides include 8 unit tests worth 5% each, for a total of 40%, and a final exam worth 60%.

    All unit tests and exams have corresponding practice tests to allow you to get used to the question types and test procedures. We recommend that you do these practice tests at your own pace over several days as appropriate, before attempting the graded unit tests and final exams.

    You may do the unit tests in any order you wish. You do not have to complete them all in one sitting. For instance, you can complete the first unit test on one day but choose to do the next one three days later.

    You can decide to focus on one unit at a time, doing the practice test followed by the unit test, or you can explore different practice tests before deciding to go ahead with a specific unit test.

    In order to have access to the practice final exam and graded final exam, you will have to first complete all your unit tests.

    Please watch these videos to help you prepare for your exam.

  • What happens if I run out of time? Can I revisit questions?

    If you run out of time during an exam, your test or exam will be automatically submitted along with all the answers entered up to that point.

    After completing a certain question, you may revisit it to review it or change your answer.

  • What will the online exams cover? Do I have to study new or different material?

    All the online unit tests and examinations are based on the Theory Syllabus, 2016 Edition.   No additional material beyond the syllabus requirements is included on the tests or exams.

  • How can I work with my teacher for preparing for my Music Theory Unit tests and exams? How do I share my results with my teacher?

    We recommend using Zoom (or any other screen sharing solution) to complete practice tests together and/or discuss practice test results.

    If you answer a practice test question incorrectly, a hint is provided. You may take a note or a screenshot of instances where you required the use of a hint, and further discuss your understanding with your teacher. Every time you complete a practice test, your score is archived and your practice test score history may be consulted at any time afterwards That way you can see your improvement and progress over the course of all your attempts.

  • Will I see what I got wrong in the final Music Theory exam? When will I see my grade?

    Upon submitting your final Theory exam, you will immediately see your score as well as what you answered and whether it was correct. Your final grade will update in the MyRCM portal within 24 hours. However, the completed examination will not be returned to you as a PDF, as they are with written examinations.

  • Will the Music Theory Levels 5-8 tests and exams be available in French?

    Yes, the instructions, questions and the answer options will have French translations provided next to the English text.  

  • How are accessibility issues being addressed?

    If you have accessibility or special needs that need to be accommodated, please complete this form.  

  • My internet connection is “spotty” what if I can’t complete the exam?

    The online exams load easily even with a “spotty” connection. During the last 5 years of online exams, very few connectivity issues have arisen, therefore it is unlikely that you will be unable to complete an exam. If you do find yourself in such a situation, please fill out this form. The system records when an exam attempt was started, so we will be able to troubleshoot the situation and, if needed, reset the attempt. 

    If your internet connection returns, simply refresh you page, or navigate back to the test/exam to continue. The questions you had entered up to the last minute before the interruption will be saved.

  • Will I have to write notes on a staff online for the Music Theory online exams?

    The online Music Theory exams do not require writing notes on a staff. The questions are in multiple choice format. For example, you will be asked to identify a note, chord or a scale by selecting the correct option from a list. Alternatively, you may also be asked to identify the best answer to a musical question by selecting it from a set of possible solutions written in staff notation.

  • Will I have to use the Music Theory Apps for completing the online exam process?

    No, the use of the music theory apps is not necessary for preparing or for completing the online exam process for Music Theory Levels 5 to 8. The Apps are additional tools to help support you in your practice if you are looking for further drills to strengthen your knowledge of theory concepts.   

  • What about the essay writing questions in History exams?

    You will be able to type the answers to your essay questions in the online exam.   For more information regarding the online History exams, please review the videos found here.

  • When can I expect my exam results?

    Exam results for Levels 5-8 Theory Online are generally available approximately 5 business days after the exam has been submitted in candidates' MyRCM Account. Candidates will not receive a detailed breakdown of their results in their MyRCM account, however, a single-page mark breakdown is available through their Moodle account.

    Exam results for Levels 9 to ARCT History Online are generally available 4 weeks after the exam has been submitted in candidates' MyRCM Account. Candidates will not receive a detailed breakdown of their results in their MyRCM account, however, a single-page mark breakdown is available through their Moodle account.

    Advanced Theory examination results (written through Zoom) are generally available six weeks after the examination. Scans of the theory papers will be available eight to ten weeks after the examination in their MyRCM account.

    For instructions on where to find your mark in your MyRCM account, click here.

  • What is the difference between the Online Theory Study Guides and the Online Theory Exams (Levels 5 through 8) and can I switch?
    Here is a chart comparing the Online Theory Study Guide with Exam and the Online Theory Exam Only.  
    Online Theory Study Guide with Exam Online Theory Exam
    Review of the eight theory units, with audio examples, guided analysis, step-by-step procedures, and unit practice tests for additional practice between in-person lessons with the teacher Not included
    Practice Tests with hints for each of the eight units Not included
    Unit test at the completion of each unit, worth 5% of the final mark (for a cumulative total of 40% of the final mark) Not included
    Practice Final Exam Practice Exam Questions
    Final exam worth 60% of the final mark Exam worth 100% of the final mark
    Unit tests can be completed separately at student’s desired pace (within one year of purchase). The final exam and unit tests must be completed in one session when started. The exam must be completed in one session.
    Available within 24 hours after purchase Once it has been purchased it will be available in your account within 24 hours and must be completed within 120 days.
    Exam Credit cannot be applied to purchase Existing Exam Credit can be applied.
    All Levels $175 each Level 5 - $125
    Level 6 - $135
    Level 7 - $145
    Level 8 - $155
    No deadline to purchase No deadline to purchase


    A switch from the study guide option to the standalone exam may be possible as long as you have not yet submitted any unit tests.  To request a switch, please contact us.  Please note that it is currently not possible to upgrade from the standalone exam option (which was purchased using an exam credit) to the study guide with exam option.

  • How can I use my exam credit to register for a Level 5 through 8 theory exam?
    How can I use my exam credit to register for a Level 5 through 8 theory exam?

    To use your exam credit to receive a Level 5, 6, 7, or 8 Online Theory Exam, you must register via My RCM. You can only use your exam credit towards the online exam only option, not the Online Study Guide. 
  • How do I access the Online Theory Study Guide and/or the Online Theory Exam?
    For more information on how to access the Online Theory Study Guide or Online exam, please watch this video.
  • How long will I have access to the Theory Study Guide/Online Theory Exam?
    When you purchase the Online Theory Study Guide, you will have 1 year from the purchase date to complete the course and exam.

    For the Online Theory exam only, you will have 120 days from the date of purchase to complete the examination. The entire examination must be completed in 60 minutes with no breaks.
  • Is a practice exam included with the Online Theory Exams?

    While Online Theory Exams do not include a full practice exam, candidates will be able to practice how to answer questions using the online format, prior to starting their exam.

  • My Teacher has booked my or my child’s exam, but we would like a refund. Who will receive the refund?

    Approved refunds will be processed to the original payee via the original method of payment.

  • How long do I have to complete the Online Theory Exam?

    Online Theory Exams are 1 hour in length and must be completed within 120 days of purchase. Once the student starts the exam, they must finish that exam in one session.

    This video demonstrates the RCM Online Theory Exam and how to access it.