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Confuse which diploma to take? 
What is the difference and what do people mostly take? 

I've list down doubts and make a summary between ATCL and DipABRSM

1. Is it a must to pass Grade 8 piano?
ATCL: No prerequisite. 
DipABRSM: Pass Grade 8 Piano

2. Duration of the pieces?
Both are the same. 32-38 minutes

3. How long is the preparation? 
This is a standard question. Generally 1.5-2 years is a comfortable timeline to prepare for ATCL after Grade 8. 
However, it will strongly depend student's technical foundation, practice time and difficulty of the programme. 

4. How about the standard of the pieces? 
They are pretty much the same. Some repertoires are overlapped. 

5. Which exam is easier to pass? 
ATCL: Mostly depend on the recital on the day (90%)
DipABRSM: There is a recital, Viva Voce and Quick Study session. 
The student is required to pass every single session in order to grant a pass.
The student is required to retake the fail session within 3 years. 
In other words, students need to be more well rounded and articulate in order to pass DipABRSM. 
This makes ATCL sounds 'easier' to pass. It can be a good starting point. 

6. What is the passing mark? 
ATCL: 60% = Pass
          80% = Distinction
DipABRSM: 40% = Pass

​7.  I just passed Grade 8. I don't want to take such a big gap and fail. 
ATCL: The examiner assesses the performance only and 10% will be given for programme notes. 
DipABRSM: The preparation is more due to Viva Voce and Quick Study requirement. 
I would suggest the student go for ATCL because failing of any one of these sessions, it would mean you fail the entire exam of DipABRSM. Furthermore, if the student is pretty weak in sight reading and lack of confidence in Viva Voce. I will advice ATCL as well. 

You may consider ARSM launced in 2017 by ABRSM. Read more 

8. Is it possible to do ATCL and DipABRSM simultaneously? 
Yes you may do so. You can consider to prepare a program that can be used for both ATCL and DipABRSM. Make sure all the repertoires are overlapped.

Bear in mind, both ATCL and DipABRSM are equivalent to first year of undergraduate. Most students choose to proceed to LTCL after ATCL. 

As a conclusion, ATCL is more performance oriented. The student should treat the exam like an actual solo piano performance by preparing own programme notes and dressing appropriately. 

DipABRSM is more academic oriented, it has Viva Voce section where the examiner will ask the candidate about the pieces. It's still worthwhile to prepare for this exam because it trains students much more well-rounded musicians. The extra session of Viva Voce and Quick Study is very handy for the student who is going to pursue music degree in future. 

I recommend ATCL exam as it is more gradual continuation after taking Grade 8.