It’s that time of year again — the ballet exams. It’s the culmination of all your hard work and dedication to the perfect Arabesque, the most effortless transition en Pointe. It’s as exciting as it is intimidating! Examinations offer students of all ages the challenge and opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the work presented in the Royal Dance Academy Ballet Syllabus, so parents and students alike should give them careful consideration to decide if they are right for their projected career path.

These syllabi and exams are open to all students studying the Graded and Vocational Graded Examination Syllabi, designed to test knowledge in relation to the level of the student. This is measured by an examination of the students studying the Graded or Vocational Graded Syllabus or by a presentation for the class of graded students.

This program has laid the foundation for some of the greatest dancers of our time. If you were choosing between two dance programs that are relatively equidistant from your home and that offer the same fun environment, wouldn’t you choose the program that offers proven certified teaching?

Established in 1920 at the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Dance, the ballet exams are designed to improve standards and reinvigorate dance training. The Academy encourages its faculty to perfect their teaching skills and pass on their knowledge to students. Today, over 13,000 teaching members and 250,00 students are spread across 79 countries, and the Academy is the largest and most influential dance and education training organization in the world.

The Academy’s foremost patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. RAD Membership supports the advancement of dance and includes professional dancers, students, teachers, benefactors and friends. The Academy also maintains close links with all those involved in the industry at every level, from the internationally recognized Faculty of Education degree programs to those younger students participating in our summer schools.

Additionally, The Royal Academy of Dance was designed to protect children. The RAD is committed to providing an appropriate space that enables children and young people to learn and develop in a safe, understanding and encouraging environment. The Academy has developed this policy in order to meet the requirements of the The Children Act of 1989, The Human Rights Act of 1998, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ratified by the UK Government of 1991), The Protection of Children Act 1999, The Criminal Justice & Court Services Act of 2000 and The Children Act of 2004.

Globally, dance is regulated by strict standards designed to protect young dancers. However, dance is not regulated in the United States. If a child attends an educational facility at any age, from preschool to college, the instructor must be certified to instruct and care for the student. Why should dance be any exception? It was this very philosophy that was adopted by the Royal Dance Academy over 80 years ago. Our syllabus is time tested to deliver safe and proven results. Over 250,000 students led by our 13,000 teaching members currently use it in over 79 countries.

For this reason, only RAD-certified teachers are authorized to teach the dance syllabus or use this educational program.

The Graded Syllabus

The Graded Syllabus consists of three different components: classical, free movement and character dance.


  1. Classical: The Classical work is the foundation and the most important part of the Graded Syllabi. 

  2. Free movement: The free movement section incorporates movements in common with other dance styles, such as natural movement, contemporary-based dance and Greek dance. 

  3. Character dance: Character dance is the theatrical presentation of national dance using original ethnic dance and music which has been freely adapted for the theatre. There are three styles, selected because of their historic importance in the development of the traditional full-length classical ballets:
  • Hungarian.
  • Russian.
  • Polish.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are eligible to take a Graded Examination or participate in a Presentation Class, as long as their age meets the minimum age requirement below. There are no upward age limits on any Examinations or Presentation Classes.

Examination or Presentation Class Minimum Age Requirements

  • Pre-Primary to 5 years old+   
  • Primary to 6 years old+
  • Grades 1 to 5 or 7 years old+   
  • Grades 6 to 8 or 11 years old+

  • Graded Examination or Presentation Class: It is recommended that the commitment for students studying for a Graded Examination or Presentation Class should be a minimum of two classes a week with extra coaching in the period leading up to the Examination/Presentation Class if necessary, particularly as the student progresses toward the higher levels.
  • Vocational Graded Examinations: Students studying for Vocational Graded examinations should expect to take a minimum of three classes a week at the lowest level, increasing as students progress toward the higher levels.

Qualifications: Each candidate will receive a result form which shows the marks achieved. These marks can be checked against the published assessment criteria in order to highlight the strengths of the candidate’s performance and the areas that need improvement. Successful candidates will receive a Certificate bearing their name and level of attainment. Unclassified candidates will receive a Certificate of Participation.

Successful completion of the Academy’s Grades 6, 7 and 8 Award provides eligibility for Affiliate Student Membership of the Royal Academy of Dance. These examinations can be taken in any sequence and are now available to male and female candidates. Graded Examination qualifications are accredited in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by QCA, DELLS and CCEA respectively, and can be included in candidates’ Records of Achievement.

Success in the Graded Examinations can provide the building blocks to the Vocational Graded Syllabus of the Royal Academy of Dance. All students, however, must take the advice of their teacher as to their levels of attainment and capabilities.  

The Vocational Graded Syllabus is the continuation of classical ballet from the Academy’s Graded Syllabus, where Pointe work for females is introduced for the first time. This syllabus has been designed to give the necessary training to students wishing to study seriously, with a possible view to following a career in dance or dance-related subjects.


Students wishing to study for the Vocational Graded Syllabus should have the type of body that can respond to demanding study. Students must also be able to concentrate for long periods of time and be able to accept and welcome constructive comments and correction.


Entry Requirements
: Candidates are eligible to take a Vocational Graded Examination as long as their age meets the minimum age requirement. There are no upward age limits on any Vocational Examinations. If candidates have achieved a distinction in Intermediate or any of the Advanced examinations, they may enter for the next examination one year younger than the minimum ages stated below:

Examination or Presentation Class Minimum Age Requirements

  • Intermediate Foundation: 11 years old+
  • Intermediate: 12 years old+
  • Advanced Foundation: 13 years old+        
  • Advanced 1: 14 years old+
  • Advanced 2: 15 years old+                           

Solo Seal Award must hold Advanced 2 distinction.

Qualifications: Each candidate will receive a result form showing the marks achieved. The marks achieved can be correlated to the criteria, indicating to the students, teachers and parents the strengths of the candidate’s performance and the areas that need improvement. Successful candidates will receive a certificate bearing their name and level of attainment.

Successful completion of the Intermediate examination gives eligibility to the Academy’s Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies (CBTS) and two degree programs offered by the Academy and validated by the University of Surrey. Vocational Graded Examination qualifications are accredited in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the QCA, DELLS and CCEA respectively and can be included in a candidate’s Records of Achievement for Vocational Schools, Universities and Colleges of Higher Education and Employment.

It also provides eligibility for affiliate student membership of the Royal Academy of Dance. Successful completion of the Advanced 2 (formerly Advanced) examination gives eligibility for candidates who have reached the age of 18 years or over to apply to become an Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance and use the credentials ARAD after their name.  

How Are the RAD Examinations Scored?

An RAD examination does not follow traditional U.S. academic scales. It has four levels:

  • Distinction: 100 – 75. Approximately 5% score this internationally.
  • Merit: 74-55. Approximately 15% score this internationally.
  • Pass: 54-40. Approximately 75% score this internationally.
  • Standard not met: 39 and below. Approximately 5% score this internationally.

Following are two important considerations for an upcoming ballet exam:

  • Have an achievable goal.

We cannot stress how important this is. The examinations are intended to demonstrate the skill and ability that the student currently possesses. For this reason, it is vital that students consider taking the exam within their skill level. Goal setting provides structure for the student and their teachers, which in turn creates motivation to get it done. A great way to begin outlining your goal is with the SMART principle, which stand for the 5 elements of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals. Using this as an outline, the student can begin to study and practice for the exam and the goal best suited for their skilled and desired outcome

  • No dancer is obligated to take this exam. It is optional.

While this test is designed to measure the knowledge, skill, aptitude, physical fitness and classification of the student taking it, it is not required. We do encourage it, however! Examinations offer a sense of accountability by all involved. The student is accountable to learn, and the program is accountable to teach. There are no upward age limits on any examinations or presentation classes. These syllabi have been designed for both male and female candidates at all levels.

Lastly—fees are due at the time of registration!

Where Can I Learn More About The Royal Academy of Dance?


You can learn more about The Royal Academy of Dance by visiting their official website at: http://www.rad.org.uk or their US-based site at: http://www.radusa.org.