Rockschool Logo

British Columbia

Rockschool Logo

British Columbia

Rockschool – Popular Music Qualifications

ALL music schools and students are welcome to be a part of the Rockschool curriculum and exams.

Rockschool music qualifications are tailor-made for the contemporary musician. Ranging from introductory grades to advanced levels of study, RSL Awards’ graded music exams ensure hard work is rewarded regardless of age or previous musical experience.

Rockschool offers qualifications for:

Accredited with the BC Ministry of Education for passing Rockschool Grades, 4, 5 and 6

Rockschool offers qualifications for:

Accredited with the BC Ministry of Education for passing Rockschool Grades, 4, 5 and 6

Rockschool – Popular Music Qualifications

ALL music schools and students are welcome to be a part of the Rockschool curriculum and exams.

Rockschool music qualifications are tailor-made for the contemporary musician. Ranging from introductory grades to advanced levels of study, RSL Awards’ graded music exams ensure hard work is rewarded regardless of age or previous musical experience.

Rockschool offers qualifications for:

Accredited with the BC Ministry of Education for passing Rockschool Grades, 4, 5 and 6

Rockschool Exam Information

Purchase a Rockschool Book appropriate to the students level of playing, either at Wentworth Music in Kelowna or online at the rslawards.com shop

To download the backing tracks you will practice to:

  • Go to rslawards.com and sign in
  • If you don’t have an account already, click Create An Account. otherwise sign in
  • At the Top right hand side of the menu bar (under the social media icons) hover over your name
  • From the drop down menu select Downloads
  • Enter your book code. (The code is at the bottom right of the first page of the book you purchased)
  • Follow the instructions to download the backing tracks

Pre Recorded Video Exam

  • These will be uploaded to https://www.rslawards.com. You will use the account you downloaded the supporting book materials (mp3’s) from
  • When filling out the exam application form on this page, please provide the email associated with your RSL account you are uploading the exam so we can enable your account to accept your upload


Live Video Exam

  • Live Video Exams can be arranged at an examination Centre
  • Please note: There needs to be a minimum of 8 exam candidates in one day to be able to hold Live Video exams

In person exam (if possible) at an exam centre

  • When possible Rockschool will send an examiner from the UK
  • Exams will be held over the period of one week (Mon-Sun, 9am-5:30pm) usually around the end of April or early May
  • Unfortunately, in person exams are currently not possible due to travel restrictions

Photo ID

Photo ID needs to be shown at the beginning of the exam for Grades 6-8

If the candidate does not have their ID on the day of the exam or when they submit a video exam, the candidate will need to upload their ID within a 24 HOUR WINDOW of their exam or risk their exam being deemed invalid.

Graded Certificate

  1. Prepare 3 songs of your choice from your Rockschool book (up to 2 songs can be free choice pieces picked by you, See below).
  2. Technical Exercises:
    1. Please follow all technical requirements on the RSL Awards Video Exam Guidance page
    2. Please announce the name of songs, scales, arpeggios, etc., before performing.
    3. Please adhere to the note values in the book (Quarter, Eighth, 16th notes). Don’t play scales as quarter notes if they  are written as 1/8th notes
    4. *Please note for Recorded Video exams: Sight reading or Improvisation/Interpretation, Ear tests and General musicianship questions are omitted from the exam.

After payment has been received, we will set up your RSL Awards account at https://www.rslawards.com to be able to upload your exam by clicking the “upload exam” link in your account (see “How do I register and upload my Video exam?” tab ).

In person or live Graded video exams:

  • Candidates will prepare 3 songs
  • Candidate will prepare to play a selection (of the examiners choice) of the Scales, rudiments (Drums), Chords, Arpeggios as well as the riff (if applicable to the grade) from the back of the book.
  •  Unseen Materials:
    •  Candidates will also be ask one general musicianship question about their instrument (see back of the book for example).
    •  Candidate will have the choice or doing Sight reading or Improvisation/ Interpretation and given to the student at the exam. The candidate will have 90 seconds to prepare before playing.

At  and in person exam, the Candidate will be asked whether they want to do Technical or Songs first and what songs they will be performing in the order of their      performance.

Please refer to our Technical Exercise Guidance under the ‘video exam checklist’ tab (on this page) for a comprehensive list of exam requirements.

Performance Certificate (Recorded Video or Live Exams)

  •  Prepare 5 songs, of your choice, from the Rockschool book (up to 3 songs can be free choice pieces picked by you. See below)
  •  No other tests or exercises are required
  •  Please announce the song titles before performing

After payment has been received, we will set up your Rockschool account at https://www.rslawards.com to be able to upload your exam by clicking the “upload exam” link in your account. (see “How do I register and upload my Video exam?” tab ).

Exam Results:

Candidates will be marked by an official RSL Awards examiner in exactly the same way that they would be in a face to face exam. Additionally, the examiner will record a short video message to candidates that delivers feedback on the exam performance.

Free Choice Pieces:

Free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul or Reggae.

The following will be accepted as suitable free choice pieces without prior checks:

  • Pieces from previous RSL syllabuses at the same (or higher) grade
    (Please note that candidates must provide sheet music for ALL previous RSL syllabuses: examiners will only have access to current syllabus material)
  • The following permissible interchangeable RSL instruments:
    – Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Electric Guitar repertoire performed in Acoustic Guitar exams
    – Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Acoustic Guitar repertoire performed in Electric Guitar exams
  • Vocal wider repertoire pieces
  • Pieces from other regulated music exam boards where accredited at the same (or higher) grade.
  • For more details and requirements please visit our dedicated Free Choice Pieces page

    It is not a prerequisite to have free choice pieces approved by RSL HQ, as the examiner will make a judgement about the suitability of the piece in the exam. If you are unsure about the eligibility of your piece(s) you can seek Free Choice Piece approval which incurs a fee of $20 per piece. In order to seek approval please e-mail us at info@rslawards.com with details (including sheet music) of the proposed piece(s), instrument and Grade. A full reply will be given no later than 4 weeks after payment of the approval fee which will be facilitated via an online link that RSL head office will e-mail to you.

Important Notes and Procedure Guide

Prerecorded Video exams can be marked for all grades. You do not need to have taken Rockschool exams from the beginning to take any graded exam. If you want to jump in at any Grade, feel free if you are performing and understand the material at that level. Currently there are no unseen materials for graded pre recorded video exams. No sight reading, Improvisation/Interpretation or Ear tests are required for the exam.

Candidates will need to play all scales, arpeggios, chords, riff as well as your choice of technical study (Grade 6,7,8)

Performance Certificates can be taken at any Grade. There will be no unseen materials during the exam.

Safeguarding, Recordings, Policies, Regulations and Guidance Click here.

Procedure Guide for RSL Graded Syllabus Exams

For RSL video exams to be valid, there are a number of rules you must adhere to:

  1. The exam needs to captured as a single, continuous shot in real time – you must not stop or pause the camera in between pieces.
  2. You must not use video editing software to cut out takes or reduce the time between pieces – the video should represent an exam taken in person as closely as possible, so do not worry about taking a little time setting up between pieces.
  3. Your face must be visible in the video, so we can identify the person taking the exam – please refer to the framing guide for further details.
  4. Candidates should introduce themselves by their full name, the exam grade and discipline they are taking, as well as introducing each piece. For Grades 6-8 candidates should clearly display for at least ten seconds valid photographic identification (such as Passport, Driving Licence, Student Union Card, ID Card) at the start of the video recording in line with our policy.
  5. Another person is permitted to be present in the room in order to operate the camera. However, the other person is not permitted to interact with the candidate or intervene in the exam, with the following exceptions:1.to introduce the candidate 2. to introduce each piece and/or the technical exercises section (Graded Certificate only)
  6. Drummers supplying video exams using mobile phones or cameras where it has not been possible to create a successful balance between drums and backing track only need to supply video of their drum performance – but as well as introducing each piece should audibly mark the final bar of the count in before performance begins by clicking their sticks together. This will allow your examiner to sync the video to the backing track for assessment. Failure to indicate the count in could make the synchronisation between video and audio impossible and may result in the exam being deemed inadmissible for assessment by a marker.
  7. Check the video recording of your exam carefully before submission, making sure that each piece is introduced to camera, the picture and sound are of a reasonable quality and that the full exam has been captured.

Syllabus infringements and resubmissions

In the event that your video submission cannot be marked because guidelines have not been followed correctly, candidates will be charged 75% of the entry fee to make a resubmission.  Examples of this include:

  • Audio and/or video quality is not sufficient for the examiner to be able to make a reliable assessment
  • Part of the video file is missing (eg. cuts off too early)
  • The video has been edited (eg. separate takes spliced together)
  • Audio does not appear to synchronize visually with the candidate’s performance
  • Another person (eg. parent or teacher) is offering prompting and advice to the candidate

For other more minor issues such as missing content (eg. technical exercises), wrong backing track being used, sheet music not supplied for free choice pieces, etc., examiners will mark on an ‘as seen’ basis and marking will be affected, reflecting the extent to which the outcomes of the exam were impacted by the infringement.  In such cases candidates will also be able to resubmit on payment of 75% of the fee if they wish.

Resubmissions in these cases are only permitted for the same instrument, grade and exam type as the original entry.

How to register for an exam

At the moment, only pre recorded video exams are available.

Video Exams are not bound by the same Exam Periods/Terms that apply to face-to-face exams. Therefore, Video Exams do not have a closing date, though we do require a submission of the recorded exam no later than three months after entry.

  • Uploading an exam
    • Register for your exam using the registration form on this page (British Columbia only)
    • When entering your information, please use the email you used on the RSL website to download your book materials. This will be the email address you’ll use to upload your exam and where your exam results will be sent to.
    • We will send eTransfer payment information upon submission of the application form and as a follow up email confirming exam price.
    • Please allow up to 72 hours to complete your registration and set up upload permissions on rslawards.com

    After you have received confirmation that the Upload permissions have been updated,

    • Go to https://www.rslawards.com
    • Hover over Sign In at the Top Right in the Menu Bar
    • Click Exam Entry
    • Enter your email and password that you used to download your backing tracks
    • On the next screen you will need to hover over your name at the top right hand side of the menu bar. You do not need to select anything from the page below.
    • While hovering over your name, click Exams
    • If you have paid for your exam and received confirmation saying you can upload, you should see the students name and a button to the right hand side saying Upload
    • Click Upload to upload your video exam
    •  The file size will be very large and will take some time to upload. Leave your device open till the upload is complete
    • Please keep your Video exam on your device till after your exam results are received in case you need to upload again

    You should see your results in 2-4 weeks along with a short video of the examiner providing feedback.

We will then produce the official qualification certificate which confirms the award of the qualification. A minimum of ‘Pass’ is required to receive a certificate.

Performance Certificate

  • Read Video Format and Frame rate, Video Framing, and Important notes
  • Record and upload 5 pieces (up to 3 free choice pieces)
  • Video Must be recorded as a one take, unedited performance (see Important Notes)
  • The candidate should introduce themselves, say what grade they are doing and what songs they will be performing for the exam
  • Ensure the examiner can see the candidates face and hands in the video (please see video guidelines)
  • Ensure there is a good balance between backing tracks and instrument volume
  • No more than 2 restarts in the exam
  • Upload the sheet music (and backing tracks if necessary) for any free choice pieces

Graded Certificate

  • Read Video Format and Frame rate, Video Framing, and Important notes
  • Record and upload 3 pieces (up to 2 free choice pieces)
  • Video Must be recorded as a one take, unedited performance (see Important Notes)
  • The candidate should introduce themselves, say what grade they are doing and what songs they will be performing for the exam
  • Ensure the examiner can see the candidates face and hands in the video (please see video guidelines)
  • Record and upload ALL the technical exercises outlined in the technical guidance (Checkmark icon on this RSL link)
  • No more than 1 restart (pieces) or 2 restarts (technical exercises)
  • Upload the sheet music (and backing tracks if necessary) for any free choice pieces

Framing Guide

It’s worth going over some simple principles, so you can be confident your submitted video is more likely to be accepted for assessment.

RSL AWARDS VIDEO EXAMS-HOW TO GUIDE

1) We need to see your face and have a reasonable view of the performance.

Guitarists, bassists and keyboard players should capture both hands in the video frame. Singers should fill a significant part of the image. Getting a single camera shot of a drummer can be challenging, so try and find an angle that allows the examiner to see both hands movement clearly and get some sense of what your feet are doing too – a slightly elevated position with the camera pointing slightly down towards the drummer can work fairly well, as it can make the sticking clearer for your examiner. Whilst it is good from a video point of view for the shot to be slightly behind a drummer and capturing the skins of the drums, it can make recording audio very difficult, with the volume of both cymbals and snare drum resulting in distortion from most phones and cameras. Striking a balance between video framing and audio may take some experimentation, but a compromise can be found.

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A more detailed shot of your body and hands can be achieved when using an electronic kit…

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2) The shot needs to be reasonably well lit.

Please try and avoid shooting in very dark environments, as this significantly affects the video quality. If you can record your performance in a space with good natural light, or have access to good quality photographic or stage lighting, the end result will be better. Please avoid coloured or moving lights in your videos too – we need to see you clearly.

3) Keep your footage as steady as possible.

If you can use a tripod or some other kind of camera mount, that would be ideal. If you do need someone to hold a camera or phone, please ensure you keep the video as stable as possible and avoid zooming in or out during the exam.

Take a look at the photos below, to help guide you when setting up to film your RSL graded syllabus exam:

Good Practice

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Bad Practice

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Audio Guide

The help videos will provide more detail, but following these simple guidelines should help you create videos with reasonable audio

1) Don’t set your volume too loudly when using amplifiers or PA speakers.

Mobile phones and video cameras record sound fairly well most of the time, but struggle with high volume sound sources. This can prove especially challenging when trying to record the sound of drums – so please read the Recording drums for RSL exams section below for further guidance

2) Spend some time getting a good balance between your performance and the backing track.

RSL needs to clearly hear your performance when examining, but equally we want your performance to feel connected to the accompanying backing track. It is worth experimenting and producing some test recordings to ensure the balance is good.

3) Avoid very noisy or reverberant (echo) spaces.

Your examiner wants to give your performance their full attention, so avoid recording your exam in a space where there is likely to be significant background noise. Also, whilst it may sound creatively pleasing, please avoid capturing your videos in very reverberant places. We want to hear as much of your signal as possible. If you do opt to use a microphone for vocal recordings avoid using excessive amounts of reverb and avoid long reverb times.

Pro Tip
While you can record reasonable audio using a mobile phone in most instances, there are a number of devices you may wish to consider if you want to ensure your audio is of a good quality. Please see below for a list of devices and apps that RSL recommends that can help you improve audio quality when creating your video exam.

Recording drums for RSL exams

The acoustic drum kit provides some challenges when trying to capture clear audio, especially when filming with a mobile phone. Whilst it is possible to record usable audio with a mobile phone with care, RSL highly recommends that drummers use a video device where they can have full control over the microphone’s sensitivity and volume. Mobile phones do not allow you this control by default, so it is worth installing an app that gives that that control, or using a microphone designed for use with a mobile phone that allows you to control the volume of the incoming signal. Please see below for a list of devices and apps that RSL recommends to help you improve audio quality.

We are also advising that, should you need to record your exam directly into a mobile phone, you avoid capturing your acoustic drum performance whilst playing to an audible backing track – the volume required will almost certainly make the recorded audio difficult to hear or result in audio  distortion. In this instance, it is permissible for you to record a video of  your drum exam with the backing track fed to you via either headphones or in-ear monitoring. RSL will synchronise the backing tracks to your performances for marking – but you will need to provide stick clicks to audibly mark the final bar of the count in before the performance begins, so we can easily synchronise the audio to the video. Please see the drum exam video video for a demonstration.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider performing your exam to video using an electronic kit, where you will have greater control over your volume balance. Many electronic drum modules provide the facility to plug in an audio device directly and allow the user to blend a backing track with the drum kit. However, we recognise that many drummers will prefer to play acoustic drum kits during assessment, so this approach is entirely optional.

RSL recommended audio / video devices and apps

Microphone for use with mobile phones (check for handset compatibility):

  • Zoom iQ7
  • Shure MV88
  • RØDE iXY
  • RØDE VideoMic

Mobile phone video apps that allow manual control of audio

  • FV-5 (supported Android devices)
  • Filmic Pro (IOS devices and some supported Android devices)

Dedicated video cameras for recording high quality audio

  • Zoom Q4
  • Zoom Q2n

We hope this set of guidelines has helped you understand the RSL graded syllabus video exam process and provided a clear set of guidelines for capturing and submitting exam material.

RSL AWARDS VIDEO EXAMS-HOW TO GUIDE

Understanding Digital Video

We understand that it can get very confusing just trying to understand all of the words and codes used by companies to try and sell us their latest gadgets. You are likely to have come across terms like 720P, 1080HD or 4k – but may not know what any of the numbers or letter stand for. This part of the guide should help you navigate through the jargon and make the process easier.

With this in mind, please read the guidance below in full to help you have the best chance of submitting a video that we can accept for submission and allow you complete your RSL exam successfully.

RSL AWARDS VIDEO EXAMS-HOW TO GUIDE

What frame size should I set my equipment to use?

As a very rough rule, the larger the number stated, the more detail is captured within each video frame you record – but there is a downside. More detail often means bigger digital files – which require more storage and take longer to upload to the internet.

4k video can, and often does, look fantastic – but the file sizes are big and can cause some compatibility issues too. At the other end of the spectrum, if the frame size is too small, the images can look blurry or pixelated when you try and view them on computer monitors or tablets, so it is best to go for a happy medium – striking a balance between detail and file size.

Full HD (often referred to by the names 1080i or 1080P) is a very good happy medium. However, 720HD video can still look very good (720i or 720P) and will produce noticeable smaller file sizes. As a result, RSL is asking for a minimum of 720HD videos and currently setting a maximum of 1080HD, to ensure your picture quality is good whilst keeping the file sizes manageable. Please note that the current file size limit is 2GB.

What does the ‘i’ and/or ‘P’ after the numbers mean?

The ‘i’ stands for ‘interlaced’, meaning that the video file captured refreshes every other line of pixels every frame, so the video file actually contains half the amount of data. It refreshes very quickly, so you can’t see the interlacing in a perfectly set up system. However, most mobile phones and cameras now only give you the option to record in a progressive format – meaning every line is captured. It’s probably best to avoid interlaced formats if you can. If your settings don’t mention it and your equipment is relatively modern, it’s more than likely to be a progressive video format.

But what do those numbers actually mean?

Look at the chart below to see how each frame size relates to each other. This should also explain why 4K is so detailed, but why the file sizes are so big:

RSL Video Exam Framing Guide

What frame rate should I use?

This figure refers to how many frames your camera captures every second. A camera that captures 30 frames per second (30fps) is essentially capturing 30 images which, when played at the correct speed, gives  a good impression of natural movement.

Frame rate has an impact on the perceived quality of video to an extent – a very low frame rate will result in jerky video. However you don’t need a huge amount of frames per second before things start to look pretty smooth. Feature films, for instance, typically use 24 frames per second. This is important, because mobile phone and camera manufactures are currently increasing the frame rates that their devices can capture, largely so extreme slow motion video can be produced. Whilst this is impressive, Rock School don’t need this – and the more frames your video contains, the bigger the file sizes get again.

So, its for this reason RSL is asking you to set your frame rate to somewhere between 24 fps (frames per second) and 30fps. Typically this will be a choice between 25fps and 30fps, depending on the hardware. This will generate video that is smooth but should keep your video file size manageable.

What video format should I use?

Mobile phones and consumer cameras largely gather video and process them and store them in a file, which makes it easier to share using the internet. The results vary, but a well designed video format can do an excellent job of retaining a good sound and image while squeezing it into a small package. The most common formats are .MP4 files which are a good choice, as they are both quite small and open across lots of devices, but .mov files and .avi files are also pretty well supported. If you are at all confused or concerned, it may be worth contacting RSL to check that your submitted video files will open.

Recording drums for RSL exams

The acoustic drum kit provides some challenges when trying to capture clear audio, especially when filming with a mobile phone. Whilst it is possible to record usable audio with a mobile phone with care, RSL highly recommends that drummers use a video device where they can have full control over the microphone’s sensitivity and volume.

Mobile phones do not allow you this control by default, so it is worth installing an app that gives that that control, or using a microphone designed for use with a mobile phone that allows you to control the volume of the incoming signal. Please see below for a list of devices and apps that RSL recommends to help you improve audio quality.

We are also advising that, should you need to record your exam directly into a mobile phone, you avoid capturing your acoustic drum performance whilst playing to an audible backing track – the volume required will almost certainly make the recorded audio difficult to hear or result in audio distortion. In this instance, it is permissible for you to record a video of your drum exam with the backing track fed to you via either headphones or in-ear monitoring. RSL will synchronise the backing tracks to your performances for marking – but you will need to audibly mark the final bar of the count-in before the performance begins by clicking your sticks together, so we can easily synchronise the audio to the video. Please see the drum exam video for a demonstration.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider performing your exam to video using an electronic kit, where you will have greater control over your volume balance. Many electronic drum modules provide the facility to plug in an audio device directly and allow the user to blend a backing track with the drum kit. However, we recognise that many drummers will prefer to play acoustic drum kits during assessment, so this approach is entirely optional.

Please note that where there is evidence from the video that the candidate is not listening to a backing track while performing, this may affect the marks awarded, as performing to a backing track (where one is provided) is a requirement of the exam.

Rockschool Exam Entry Form

*Please hold on to your pre-recorded Rockschool Video exam until you receive your results. We can only take payment of e-Transfer at this time. Please fill out the form below for further instructions or contact us here

Downloads

Your favourite Rockschool music books, tracks, and supporting tests on all your devices.

Visit the online store to purchase your book or digital PDF and take it with you wherever you go.

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Downloads

Your favourite Rockschool music books, tracks, and supporting tests on all your devices.

Visit the online store to purchase your book or digital PDF and take it with you wherever you go.

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Additional Classic Rock Songs For Your Next Exam (Guitar, Bass and Drums)

Music Production 

A 25+ year history of innovation throughout music education, providing aspiring producers and engineers with the most accessible music production graded syllabus.

On completion of a Rockschool Music Production grade, every candidate will own a wealth of technical, practical and theoretical knowledge that they can apply to real-world scenarios – whether it’s in audio production, electronic music production, mixing, editing, mastering or sound for media.

Music Production 

A 25+ year history of innovation throughout music education, providing aspiring producers and engineers with the most accessible music production graded syllabus.

On completion of a Rockschool Music Production grade, every candidate will own a wealth of technical, practical and theoretical knowledge that they can apply to real-world scenarios – whether it’s in audio production, electronic music production, mixing, editing, mastering or sound for media.

Music Production 

A 25+ year history of innovation throughout music education, providing aspiring producers and engineers with the most accessible music production graded syllabus.

On completion of a Rockschool Music Production grade, every candidate will own a wealth of technical, practical and theoretical knowledge that they can apply to real-world scenarios – whether it’s in audio production, electronic music production, mixing, editing, mastering or sound for media.

REPLAY

The next generation of interactive music books, Replay has some amazing features designed to give you absolute freedom and control over your practice. Practice at your own pace, stay motivated to practice and keep learning whether you’re a pro or just love to play.

Replay features a collection of digital tools that will help take your practice to the next level.

  • E-books

  • Enhanced Audio

  • Tempo Change

  • Synthetic Performances

  • Metronome

  • Fretboard & Keyboard View

REPLAY

The next generation of interactive music books, Replay has some amazing features designed to give you absolute freedom and control over your practice. Practice at your own pace, stay motivated to practice and keep learning whether you’re a pro or just love to play.

Replay features a collection of digital tools that will help take your practice to the next level.

  • E-books

  • Enhanced Audio

  • Tempo Change

  • Synthetic Performances

  • Metronome

  • Fretboard & Keyboard View

External High School Credit In BC

Rockschool is accredited with the BC Ministry of Education.

Rockschool students who pass grade 4, 5 and 6 exams can receive external High School credit (4 credits for each of these grades).

Simply bring your Grade 4, 5 or 6 certificate to your High School Counsellor and ask them to use the BC Ministry Trax Codes below for 4 extra credits on your High School Transcript:

Grade 4 : UROK10 (Grade 10 credit)
Grade 5 : UROK11 (Grade 11 credit)
Grade 6 : UROK12 (Grade 12 credit)

Click here to learn more about RSL Awards and Rockschool