For many years we have entered our pupils for RAD exams. These exams are a great opportunity for our dancers but are a huge amount of work, and require a lot of 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 Dunbar School of Dancing, and we have had some of the highest marks in the country in the last few years.

Preparation for RAD exams starts in January and the exams usually take place at the beginning of June. This means that we have very limited time to prepare and this means that there is a lot of extra practice required and extra classes are scheduled for all children entering an exam.

RAD exams are not compulsory. There is absolutely no pressure on any child to enter into an exam, as we strongly believe that the most important thing is that they enjoy their dancing. An alternative option is a school exam, which is an informal exam arranged internally. Teachers are present in the room and another local teacher is invited to examine. This is a good option for the younger classes as it is a good introduction to exams.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What happens in an exam?

Exams are actually quite enjoyable for most people! You go into the hall in groups and the examiner will ask to see each exercise. Sometimes they will miss things out. 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 all together as a group of four (if there are that many candidates in the exam) and dances will be done as a solo.

Will I be by myself?

Not if we can help it! Up to four people can enter an exam together and we usually try to enter people 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. 

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.

  • Do I have the time to practice at home?

  • Do I have the time to commit to extra classes?

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

  • Will I be able to consistently practice my work at home?

  • Am I only doing it because my friends are?

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

  • Am I going to give it my all?!

Should I Do an Exam?


Opposite is a video made by one of our pupils, in which she gave her advice on taking exams. She has sat a lot of ballet exams in her time at the school so made this video to help younger students decide whether to do it or not and give her tips on how to approach them and do the very best you can in it.