Considering taking a Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Ballet exam?

For many years we have entered our pupils for RAD exams. These exams are not only a great opportunity for our dancers to progress but are also fun and extremely fulfilling. They involve a lot of work and require determination from both children and parents. RAD exams are SQA accredited and we take them very seriously. It takes time, consistent training and lots of ongoing effort to build up the stamina, strength and good technique required to do well. We have had a lot of success in RAD exams at the Angela Watson School of Dance and have achieved some of the highest marks in the country over the last few years.

RAD exams are not compulsory. There is absolutely no pressure on any child to enter an exam, as we strongly believe that the most important thing is that they enjoy their dancing.

Should I sit an exam?

Entering an RAD exam is a big commitment and one that you should take seriously.

Here are some of the things you should think about when making your decision.

1.Do I have the time to practice at home?

2.Do I have the time to commit to extra classes?

3.Would I miss a class to go to a party or meet my friends?

4.Am I only doing it because my friends are?

5.Does it matter to me that my friends are not doing it?

6.Am I going to give it my all?

A teacher has the right to withdraw a child who is not taking the preparation seriously and not committing to the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What happens in an exam?

Exams are enjoyable for most pupils. Pupils go into the hall in groups and the examiner will ask to see each exercise. RAD exams are quite formal, but examiners are usually very friendly and try to make the dancers feel comfortable. Some exercises will be performed in twos, some altogether as a group of four (if there are that many candidates in the exam) and dances will be performed as a solo. Each examination has two dances in each grade which the child will perform on his/her own.

Will I be by myself?

Not if we can help it! Up to four candidates can enter an exam together and we usually try to enter them with their friends.

What happens if I miss classes?

It is very important that dancers wishing to enter exams do not miss classes. Obviously, in circumstances like illness, missing classes is unavoidable, but it is vital that classes come before parties etc on the run up to exams!

What will I get out of the exam?

Lots of things. The biggest advantage is that RAD Exams are SQA accredited and from Grade 6 up, UCAS points can be gained. This means that the qualifications will help you get into university in the future. Secondly, exams teach you discipline and the value of hard work, not to mention how to deal with stress and how to prepare for an exam. This can all come in very handy when studying for National 5s and Highers at school! Lastly, you will get a massive sense of achievement, a medal and an official certificate. 

What happens when you decide your child will sit the RAD exam?

  1. Your daughter will be asked to attend a second class of the week.
  2. You will be asked to pay the exam fee long before the entries go in.
  3. We will ask you for your correct spelling and how you would like your child’s name to appear on the certificate, no middle names.
  4. We will ask you for your date of birth.
  5. We will apply to the RAD for an ID number if you don’t already have one.
  6. The exam fee is expensive around £50-£100 for grade 1 up to advanced foundation. We will also ask for a small fee towards the cd operator, hall hire and examiner’s lunch which will be around £6 depending on numbers on the day.
  7. You should practice at home as this is beneficial.
  8. Remember to have good communication with the teachers and should you have any questions please email me as know we are there for you and your child and really want the best for the pupils here at the dance school.

Who can sit an exam and what marks should I expect for my child?

Most pupils in the RAD system will receive merits, talented pupils will receive distinctions and a few will gain a pass. Whatever mark your child achieves be proud, the RAD examine all over the world and do expect the work to be of a high level. The RAD are the world leaders in the training of ballet and they have the highest standards throughout the world of dance.

All children are different, and all will achieve the mark they deserve based on ability, hard work and talent. We, unlike many schools, enter all pupils. Some schools only enter their best pupils for fear of having low marks, however we don’t adopt this approach as we feel every child is important and is worthy of sitting the exam (as long as they do work hard, practice at home and attend all classes)

How many grades are there?

The Royal Academy of Dance starts at pre-primary through to solo seal. At the dance school we start at grade 1 to advance foundation. The advance 1 to solo seal is usual taken at full time dance schools.

Pre primary


Grades 1 to 8

Intermediate Foundation


Advance Foundation

Advanced 1 and 2

Solo seal

Intermediate foundation to advanced are for talented pupils and these run alongside the grades for pupils wishing to take ballet more seriously.

Our marks at the dance school are high and we are very proud of our achievements over the years.