ISTD exams are an exciting moment for a dancer’s journey. Dancers get the time and space to demonstrate all their hard work, apply what they’ve learned, gain performance confidence, and continue to grow. However, ISTD exams, just like any other type of exam, can be nerve-racking. Keep reading to learn more about ISTD examinations, how to prepare for them, and what to expect.
What are ISTD Exams?
ISTD stands for the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. The ISTD offers dance exams to students of all levels who dance for either leisure or hobby, or to dancers who are more serious about becoming professional performers or teachers.
The exams are graded based on dance criteria as it applies to a student’s grade level, and are scored based on these categories:
- Distinction equals 80 to 100 marks, which reflects extremely high standards of achievement.
- Merit equals 60 to 79 marks and denotes a very good standard of achievement.
- Pass is scored between 40 to 59 and reflects an achievement level of satisfactory to fairly good.
How to Prepare
The best way to succeed at any test or goal is to do our best to prepare! Here are things you can do that will help you practice better and prepare you for an ISTD exam.
Getting more from your practice
Practice always makes perfect. But preparing for an ISTD exam means working smarter — not harder! As you’re learning your examination classwork, you’ll want to know each exercise by heart.
Outside of class, try practicing on your own until you don’t have to copy your teacher or fellow dancers to complete a routine. Also try practicing each exercise on both legs. Being able to perform each exercise with both your right and left leg can help you feel confident in your abilities, and leads to having a solid grasp of technique.
What’s more, try to pay attention to the position of both your arms and your head as you’re performing your routines. For ballet, it can be helpful to sometimes try practicing by just moving your head or arms. That way, you can learn where you may be unclear in certain areas, and focus on making those even better. In addition, do your best to actively apply the feedback you receive from your dance instructors. They’re here to help you improve your technique by sharing their experiences and advice with you.
Another way to improve how you practice is to think about what areas you feel less confident about. If you’ve taken an exam before, where did you notice yourself getting more nervous? Were there any areas you were more worried about than others?
It can be challenging, and sometimes a little scary, to practice the exercises we have the most trouble with. But the more you keep at it, the better you’ll become. Try to be patient with yourself, listen to your instructors, and keep trying!
Be ready beforehand
Before the exam itself, make sure you have everything you need packed into your bag. This includes hair ties, extra tights, and of course, your dance shoes. Preparing the night before will help you save time and energy the day of the exam by ensuring you already have everything you need.
As you’re waiting to take your exam, you should warm up with light stretching and exercises to help get yourself ready. If you can, try warming up how you usually do before dance class so you won’t risk an injury.
And, if you’re interested in joining a dance program that focuses on getting you ready for ISTD exams, reach out to us to hear more about our ISTD ballet and modern classes.