Taking Spotlight Exams with LCM University of West London by Sudiksha Devendra Kumar

Thinking of doing a LCM (London College of Music) exam soon? Then look no further, I will be telling you about the whole experience and what it entails! So what are LCM exams?  LCM exams are recognised qualifications and UCAs points are given to people who successfully achieve Grades 6-8, so it definitely is a very rewarding experience!

So what do you have to do? Different exam levels and types have different requirements so if you want to do an exam, the first thing to do is look at the exam syllabus which can be found online (on: http://www.uwl.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Academic-schools/London-College-of-Music/Web/LCM-Exams/PDF/Drama%20and%20Communication/drama_grades_2014.pdf  ) and try to find your exam type and grade.

In most grades, the candidate is expected to prepare two pieces: this may be an extract from a book or some prose or you may have to write your own talk/speech! If you are writing your own talk, make sure you include a clear but brief introduction which simply just tells the examiner what you’re going to talk about. Then, in a logical/chronological order, talk about your topic/experience! Ensure that you are speaking formally and that what you are saying makes sense- but this doesn’t mean you have to be rigid and uptight, have a friendly tone and include plenty of expression in your voice (e.g. if it’s an exciting moment then sound excited!). And to finish it off just conclude your talk with maybe a reflection on the topic or maybe a question! But do remember, when you are writing/performing your talk, don’t expect it to be right first time! There will be several drafts and versions but don’t worry about it- this is going to be learning experience and you will improve over time (with practise of course!). You also need to ensure your piece fits snugly into the time limit- aim for your performance to be about 30 seconds under the time limit so that on the day even if you speak too fast or too slow it won’t seem too short or too long! Also make sure you know what all the words in your piece mean because your examiner may ask you for the definition (I was once asked what a circus was!). The pieces usually carry around 60 marks (30 marks each).

The candidate is also usually asked to make a folder of work/portfolio. Depending on the grade, this could be pieces of work that interest you (which may have to be on a linked theme) or background material for a talk. Make sure you know what you are doing- if you are unsure ask your teacher! They should be more than happy to help! When making your folder/portfolio, make sure you are including things that interest YOU because the examiner may ask you questions on it! You may also be asked to write a Personal Reflection which is usually around a page long and the content of it, again, depends on the grade. To achieve the highest mark for your folder of work, try to make it artistic-but if art isn’t a strong point for you (it certainly isn’t for me!) then don’t fret, just try and make it colourful by backing pieces onto colourful paper/card and print out relevant pictures: let your creativity flow! The folder of work and discussion with the examiner carries 30 marks overall.

In the exam you will also receive a sight reading chosen by the examiner and you will usually be given around one or two minutes to look at it before performing. This could be any piece of work: a piece of prose, a poem or maybe an extract from a book! The only way to get better at sight reading is to just read out random extracts from books or poetry books. This part of the exam usually carries 10 marks.

On the day, the exam isn’t usually a stressful experience as long as you are organised and bring all of the required material to the exam. The exams are usually held at Chethams School of Music in Manchester- but this can change on some occasions! The length of the exam depends on the grade that you are doing but it usually goes by very quickly! You’ll go in and exchange names; then when you’re ready you’ll be asked to perform your pieces. Then you’ll do your sight reading! Finally you’ll discuss your folder of work and then that’s it, exam over!

Hopefully this has helped any of you thinking of doing LCM exams in the near future; and if you’ve decided that you want to, good luck!

by Sudiksha Devendra Kumar

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