We offer our grade and vocational ballet students the opportunity to enter for Examinations, Class Awards and Presentations Classes for the Royal Academy of Dance

The RAD is a worldwide organisation that offers an internationally-recognised portfolio of examinations and assessments designed to encourage, motivate and reward students of all ages and abilities, outlining a progressive structure for learning and achievement.

Working towards RAD Exams or Awards will provide students with:

  • A clear set of goals and learning outcomes to work towards in each grade.
  • A clear progression pathway for future training to keep students motivated to work towards achieving the next grade.
  • A sense of achievement when they have completed their exam or award.
  • Feedback in numerical format related to the key aspects of their training from an external, professional source.
  • A special occasion to enjoy and to celebrate with their friends.
  • A sense of pride in being a part of an activity that takes place all over the world.


Exams will provide students’ parents with:

  • Reassurance that their children are receiving good training from a teacher who has been educated by one of the world’s most prestigious ballet organisations.
  • Confidence that their children are given opportunities to show their progress and be assessed by professionals.
  • Pride in their children participating in an internationally recognised activity.
  • Feedback on their child’s performance from a professional eye who is external to their regular teacher.


Our ballet year starts and ends approximately mid-year with our exam season.

Entries for exams are due to be finalised at the start of term 2.

The Exam season usually takes place sometime towards the beginning of term 3.

Term 3: After exams are complete, all students begin learning the technique for their new level whilst rehearsing for our annual October Dance Concert.

Term 4: After BDCs October Dance Concert we spend the rest of the year laying the foundation for the next level in class.

Terms 1 and 2 of the new calendar year: Students learn the remainder of their syllabus settings and polish the work to prepare for exam season.

Please read through our Frequently Asked Questions below to find out more and to make sure you’re enrolling in the correct classes and have set the right goals for your child.

Are Exams Compulsory?

No! Exams are a great idea for some children, a not-so-great idea for others and for most they are simply a wonderful goal to achieve if the students have put in the hours and hard work to get ready.

What is the difference between exams, class awards and presentation classes?

Exams: a formal presentation of 3-4 students without their teacher. Requires the most preparation and a secure knowledge of the choreography. Receive a numerical result form and certificate of completion.

Class Awards (For Grades 1-5 ballet) or Presentation Classes  (for Grades 6-8 ballet): a slightly more relaxed format where a larger group of students show selected work from their level under the guidance of their teacher. This is a great option for new students or those who are less confident with their work. Receives a certificate of completion but do not receive a numerical result form

Who decides what my child can enter for?

All students in our graded and vocational ballet classes learn the work required for the exam.

Each student must decide whether they want to enter for an exam or not. At the beginning of April each year, Miss Natalie will send out recommendations for which students are eligible for Exams. The options will be either:

            An offer for exam entry

            An offer for Class Award or Presentation Class entry

            A recommendation that the student does not enter for either this year.

Does my child have to repeat the grade if they are not offered an exam?

In most cases, no. Children will simply move onto their next grade of study with their same classmates regardless of whether they participated in an exam or not. Some exceptions to this include:

  • Children who have struggled to keep up in class – either technically or socially – due to joining at a late stage in the year or extended absences.
  • Children who are undergoing increased pressure from school that is affecting their dance training (for example, Yr 12 students who are susceptible to school exam stress may wish to not enter a ballet exam in that year.)

Once students reach Intermediate level (usually offered after grade 7 or 8 ballet), passing this this exam becomes a prerequisite for moving onto the advanced level exams.

All exams and class awards take place outside of regular class time so that students who choose not to participate do not have their class time affected.

How much does it cost

Where does the money go?

The RAD fee covers the cost of their administration, scheduling and results organisation. It also covers the employment and travel costs of providing us with an external examiner. The RAD sends us an examiner from interstate or overseas to ensure that every school is examined by someone who is not already familiar with the students. This ensures that no bias occurs.

BDC’s fee covers our administration and staffing for the exam day. A minimum of three staff members will be present for your child’s exam: their teacher, a support staff member and a music operator. The higher and vocational grades are charged at a higher rate to cover the cost of hiring an accompanist and piano (lower grades use the recorded music.)

How much time is required to prepare for each exam?

To give themselves the best possible chance of preparing for their goals, we recommend students attend 2 classes per week. There is also the option, especially in the higher levels, to spread the training period over two years. This is usually a decision made as a class. Individual students who wish to either catch up or progress more quickly than their peers may organise private lessons to reach their training hours and/or the standard of technique required for entry.


The following is the recommended study time for each grade:

What does my child need to wear for their Exam?

It is imperative that your child is immaculately presented for their exam day to mark the special occasion. This day is second only to concert day and for some even more special as they feel more important in a small group of excited candidates as opposed to being backstage with 200 students for their concert.

Students will need to set aside 30mins at BDC for a staff member to do their hair.

Grades 1-3 will have their hair styled in “Heidi plaits”

Grades 4 and above will be in a ballet bun.

BDC will provide all students with flowers or ribbons in their hair.

Uniforms must be in pristine condition (no stains, faded leotards or runs in tights.)

No visible underwear!

No jewellery or nail polish

Leather ballet shoes can be repainted a few days before the exam.

Canvas must be washed back to their original colour

See Miss Natalie about making demi pointes and pointe shoes presentable.

If your leotard no longer fits or is in bad condition, you can order a new one through our office.

Grade 1 – Grade 2 Ballet:

  • Turquoise leotard
  • Character Skirt (black with blue ribbons)
  • Ballet socks or convertible ballet tights
  • Shoes: Ballet shoes with elastic over the instep
  • Black, canvas character shoes with low heel
  • Hair: Heidi Plaits


Grade 3 – Grade 5 Ballet:

  • Turquoise leotard
  • Character Skirt (black with blue ribbons)
  • Convertible ballet tights
  • Shoes: Ballet shoes with ribbons
  • Black, canvas character shoes with cuban heel
  • Hair: Ballet bun


Grade 6 – Grade 8 Ballet:

  • Royal blue camisole leotard with thick straps
  • Royal blue chiffon, circle skirt to mid calf length
  • Character Skirt (black with blue ribbons)
  • Convertible ballet tights (MUST be convertible as the Free Movement work is performed in bare feet.)
  • Shoes: Ballet shoes with either elastic or ribbons
  • Black, canvas character shoes with cuban heel
  • Hair: Ballet Bun


Intermediate Foundation – Advanced 2 Ballet

  • Royal blue/Cobalt camisole leotard with thick straps
  • Convertible ballet tights
  • (Those performing Variation 1 will be provided a half tutu by BDC)
  • Shoes: Soft, demi pointe shoes with ribbons (Inter Foundations may still wear regular ballet shoes.)
  • Pointe shoes
  • Hair: Ballet bun with royal blue velvet ribbon



What happens on Exam Day?

Exams and class awards are scheduled by the RAD to take place Monday – Fridays between 8am and 4:00pm

Most students will require 2 hours to cover adequate preparation time and the session itself. We can provide a letter if you require permission for your child to be absent from school from this time.

1 hour prior to the exam, your child will need to be at our studio. This time is used to style the students hair, conduct a warm up and take a little time out to calm nerves and excitement.

Each group lines up outside the main studio door 5 mins before their exam is due to start.

The examiner will have a bell that she or he will ring to call the students in to start their performance.

The students will be in the studio for 30min to 1 hour depending on the level of their exam and how many are in their group.

(We’ll be able to tell you how long your child will be once the RAD provides us with our schedule.)

Then the best part of all: the students exit the exam room with smiling, proud faces full of excitement of their achievement.

It’s best to then forget the exam and move onto concert work as results get sent to be ratified in London before they come to us. A month or two after our exam season results will be in.

Want to ask a question that hasn’t been answered here? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.