Music Examinations Manager
for The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Syllabus 2011

Version date: 22.11.10

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Latest news

Online

Entries and Results retrieval is compatible with AB's web site (22.10.10). If it fails, check www.andrews-music.co.uk for latest version of Music Examinations Manager. The coding of the AB web pages changes fairly often and I need a few hours to react!

     
   

All versions of the software are downloadable from www.andrews-music.co.uk/absoftware.htm. If you have a fully-working licensed version, downloading an upgrade will not affect your data or license status, as long as you load the upgrade in the same folder (on the same computer) as the original.

A new three year cycle starts in January 2011, so any previous licence will not apply to the new program. Phone or email the 'convert' number to enable the new program. An invoice will be emailed to you covering 2011-2013.

GENERAL

 

The setup program probably placed files in C:\program files\AB Exams 2011 by default, though you can choose somewhere else in the Setup. You may want to transfer the files which do not change from year to year. These might be AB_ADMIN.DAT, N.TXT and P.TXT. These can be copied into folder AB Exams 2011.

All data is entered under DATA IN. Anything you want to display or print out is accessed via DATA OUT.

To print: DATA OUT, choose the report. It displays on the screen. Click top left Print. The printing of Dummy data is disabled. The program is accurate for one year only as it contains the current fees and regulations so far as they affect entries. The dates apply to UK Centres. The software is licensed for use by the purchaser only, on one specific computer and the name of the purchaser appears on the ABOUTscreen. On first running, the program generates dummy candidate data for a fictional Period G. With this you can experiment with the program without having to enter any details. The demonstration version works with dummy data and with printing disabled. You can practise importing from the web and you can overwrite the dummy data with your own. You can’t change to an ‘active’ session or print until the program is licensed (see CONVERT).

If you have a licensed version there is no need to erase or overwrite the dummy data. Instead, choose UTILITIES / Change examination period and select the A,B or C period (or a Special Visit). The program automatically makes some blank disk files which will contain the real data you enter.

This main file contains all the candidate details, up to a maximum of 499 Theory and Practical entries, Preparatory to Grade 8 for any one period. Another file (AB_ADMIN.DAT) will contain your own applicant data (name, address, telephone etc.). Unless copied from the previous year's folder (directory), this file is empty when you start and will need details before printing an entry form.

  • Enter data in upper or lower case - it makes no difference

  • The Theory subject code is 99 * <TAB> key (move on) and <SHIFT> plus <TAB> (move back).Select screen options by mouse or <TAB

  • If a highlighted letter appears on a "button" or facility, hold down <ALT> * and press the letter to access.

  • <ESC> always returns to the Menu without saving any changes

  • Use SPACEBAR to insert an X into a box eg. Saturdays [X].

DATA IN

Applicant

Operation is straightforward, but choose the Save and Exit box if you want to save changed data. Visits shows the type(s) of exam for which you may be requesting a visit [X] (SPACEBAR). For instance, if theory is blank [ ] the Board will assume that all theory candidates will take their exam at the local centre (Centre code) and not at your visit address. Any answers to market research questions (not obligatory) are selected by the SPACEBAR and show as [X]. Title-plus-names-plus-diplomas should not exceed 40 characters. You will be prompted if it does. This is the Board's restriction

 

Candidate

Choose candidate for viewing or data entry by

  • selecting candidate number box and entering number or

  • selecting "On" or "Back" boxes (bottom of screen) or

  • with the mouse, selecting either end of the horizontal scrollbar below "surname".

Once entered, a candidate's details cannot be deleted, though they are easily suspended so they take no further part in any operations (Status-Active/Suspended). This is deliberate so that details remain attached to the same reference number.

Set takes three characters and allows form or JUN(IOR) or SEN(IOR) etc.. It appears on important printed reports.

Date of birth. The Board requests ages for research purposes only; it is not a requirement. The program calculates the age from the DoB. The advantage is that a candidate may take many exams through one Centre, and the one DoB suffices (see ADVANCED FEATURES and P.TXT).

The program does its best to help you. If you enter an impossible grade, it will tell you and wait for re-entry. It tries to save effort. For example, if for Candidate No.1 you typed NOSUCH SCHOOL as the entering body and Candidate No.2 is from the same school, you need only press the <ENTER> key to have NOSUCH SCHOOL appear again. If you type the same entering body a number of times, ensure that each is identical, including punctuation and spaces. You can use up to 160 different "entering" names (see ADVANCED FEATURES and N.TXT).

For the subject/code you should enter sufficient letters to uniquely identify, or enter the subject code number.

Grade 5 Theory certificates or references no longer have to sent to the Board. The following details only apply to old Grade 5 passes gained before the Board's computers recorded them.

[Rather than sending Grade 5 theory certificates to the Board, many schools use the "pro-forma" method of providing Grade 6-8 exemption details: the candidate names and references are listed and signed as correct. At "theory details" the program expects you to enter the Grade 5+ reference (A98 123456 89 for example). If the reference is not needed, the program will not prompt for entry. By way of reference, the Board needs any three items from: candidate name, year and period, reference number, centre code. The simplest choice is the first three].

Result invites a mark, unless a Preparatory exam. The only mark accepted in this case would be ABS(ent). There are no marks either for Practical Musicianship, only classes, but you should enter a mark to determine the class later on. The mark is not used for any calculation, and you can choose any mark within the Distinction, Merit, Pass and Fail classes to agree with the Board's result. Any candidate marked as ABS(ent) will be omitted from calculations. You can access this function quickly without a mouse by holding down <ALT> whilst pressing "r".

Staff allows up to seven characters and can be used to identify th teacher and/or accompanist (ABC/DEF). This information appears on various printouts produced by the software.

Centre use allows you to enter information for your own use. If at the start of the line you enter up to six letters/numbers followed by backslash ( \ bottom left of keyboard), this is taken as an internal category and appears with the candidate's details for charging, results checklist, timetable preferences and timetable itself. You can use the feature to attach a form, house, junior/senior, or any other grouping that you wish. Results can also be selected by this category.

Charge code accepts up to three alphanumeric characters and you can us up to 160 different codes. All fee calculations thereafter will collect charges in the relevant category. PRI(vate) shows as a separate amount for private pupils on the statistics page. If the scholarship button is selected [X] then the candidate's fees are marked with an asterisk in the fees list.

The Print now box prints a sheet for the one candidate, showing the fee due (if there is no result yet) or the result. If printing the fee, you can add a local charge to the Board fee.

To save new or changed data, you must activate the Save box (or the Save-and-On) at the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, if you exit or move the original data remains, whatever appears on the screen.

 

Import from web

Automatically displays the Board’s online entry page – just follow the on-screen instructions.

*** Please note *** The Board changes the format of this page quite often. If my program does not work, check on the web site www.andrews-music.co.uk/absoftware.htm for an amended version or guidance.

 

Find first empty slot

does just that.
 

Results

 
 

Import from web

Automatically displays the Board’s online results page – just follow the on-screen instructions. The results are then merged with the correct candidates. Make sure that the Exam Period selected in Utilities matches the year and period of the results on the Board's web page. Through Search and missing result check for any results not transferred. In most cases it will be a PREparatory entry, an ABSent result or a mismatch in the spelling of a name, grade or subject between the entries held on the computer and the results downloaded.
 

Enter for an individual

Enter result manually for one candidate.
 

Enter for all

Enter results manually for all candidates.

DATA OUT

Entry form for the Board

The first page of the printout should b retained by the Centre. This is a fee analysis under entering body an under grade. The subsequent pages are the entry form for the Board, wit separate pages for each "entering body". At the end appears the list o candidates' Theory/Practical Musicianship qualifications for Grade 6- practical exams. There are up to two places where your signature is needed (sorry - the computer can't do everything!). Also, the Head's signature for custody of any Theory papers is required. This format has been approved by the Board - please don't alter it in an editor or word processor.

 

Fees list

Assembles charges under "Charge codes" mentioned earlier surnames first and alphabetical order. If no Centre references have been used (??????\) then the program's own reference numbers in brackets precede the names. Any scholars' fees are marked with an asterisk but figure in calculations.

 

Checklist

Shows the main details for all candidates, in abbreviated form.

 

Exam times preferences

Makes a list of practical candidates and exam durations for music staff to indicate preferences for exam times, once the specific day(s) and hours are received from the Board.

 

Details for candidates

See DATA IN - Candidate "Print now" box. This option prints details for all candidates, one A4 page each. Any local surcharge entered applies to all candidates.

 

Results

Displays decrementing marks in the categories Distinction, Merit, Pass, Fail. You can opt to select results under various headings, and to exclude failures from the list. If you exclude failures, excluded also are PRI(vate) candidates. Practical Musicianship names appear without marks but in the correct class. Absentees appear with zero marks. You can now choose to have the list in alphabetical or mark order. Alphabetical listing now possible.

 

Statistics

This scans all (or selected) entries and presents a summary on the screen. If results have been entered you will see an analysis of them. You will be alerted if some are missing. The total examining time is calculated so you can see if you qualify for a visit, special visit or large entry.

FEES and DATES

 

Displays the current instrument codes, grades an examination fees in the selected currency. Also the UK entry dates, theory exam dates, and practical examining weeks for the whole year (including week numbers).

TIMETABLE.

 

It works like a word processor in that you select the whole line by triple-clicking, or holding down a mouse button and dragging (or click on the left “margin” of the line before the first character until the cursor changes – quite critical) and then drag the name or names (select a block using SHIFT and mouse) where you want.

When you press "Recalculate" all the times are adjusted to reflect the changes. The default times for the two sessions each day are 09.30-13.00 and 14.15 17.30. You can change these by altering the times within the chevrons eg. <09.30>. The times must be in 24-hour format and fill the space between the chevrons (two pairs of digits separated by a point). If you have omitted or duplicated any candidates you will be warned: simply "Recalculate".

You now have to insert a 10 minute break (menu Insert Break) roughly mid-way through any session of 2 hrs 15 mins or longer. The Board's criteria for a break are: session > 2 hrs 14 minutes and there should be 40 minutes of examinations each side of the break. Using the Delete key on the keyboard, you can delete a Break, and you can drag it to a new position.

To select one whole line (advised) click three times, or find the sensitive spot to the left of the first character where the cursor changes shape, and click once. This position is quite critical . To select a number of lines, click once at top left of the block and SHIFT-click at bottom right of the block. Drag to new destination. This all works just like Word or Notepad. If your selection involves more that just candidate data, you will be asked to reselect.

After recalculating you will find a dark marker showing the moved candidate(s). Click on menu Marker and another marker will appear showing where the candidate(s) came from. You can toggle between the two.

Each time you use the timetable program it looks for a file called L.09? as a starting point (? means a letter A to F). This was the file made on the last recalculation (if any). If no such file exists, the timetable is made according to entry order. If having made a file L.09?, you then wish to start again from scratch, choose menu Delete timetable: L.09? will be deleted, forcing the program to calculate from entry order.

Data is automatically saved on Exit. This will overwrite any existing file L.09?. If you wish to preserve the original file, you should rename it.

If a particular session is to be deleted (eg. no morning, start at 14.15 then make the relevant start and finish times the same.

SEARCH

 

The top options require words or part-word to search for The others will search for the chosen characteristics. In displaying the chosen records, the horizontal scroll bar is inoperative: use the Back and On buttons instead.

UTILITIES

Change exam period

This option changes the period (A,B,C, Special Visits D,E,F or G for dummy). If there is no candidate file for the selected period, the program will pause to make one.

 

Change currency

Different currencies can also be selected, though the Board may not wish to receive non-UK entries via this software. Please check with the Board.

ARCHIVE

Make in Excel Adds the current data to an Excel file called Archive.csv and then sorts the whole file in alphabetical order. It's best to Show in Excel first to make sure you've not archived the data previously. If you have, you'll get unnecessary duplications.
  Show in Excel Shows the file Archive.csv in Excel (if installed). All exam details are shown for each candidate so you can track progress. It will also help with writing reports and references. If you find you have duplicated data, exit the program, double-click on Archive.csv (default folder) and use Excel's procedure for deleting duplicates (Help - "delete duplicates"). Then Save modified file under the same name.

HELP

 

  1. Displays these notes that you are reading. You can print them out like any other report
  2. Facts about the software version and status.
  3. Web page for upgrades etc.
  4. E-mail me (see CONTACT).

CONVERT

 

If you’re using a demo version, clicking Convert will show a five-digit number unique to your computer. Send me that number (by e-mail or phone preferably) and I will return the counter number which you enter to license the software. This done, you can enter your own name or school name and use all the program’s facilities.

ADVANCED FEATURES

 

If you're happy about using an external text editor to produce ASCII files (like Notepad for example), then you can construct two special files to hold repeatable data ...

  • In the AB Exams 2011 directory make a file called P.TXT in the form
    SURNAME,FIRST_NAME,DATE_OF_BIRTH,THEORY_QUALIFICATION, ENTERING_NAME <ENTER> The commas are delimiters. If a field is missing, two commas should appear together. If P.TXT exists, a vertical scrollbar will appear top left of the Candidate Data screen. You can scroll through al candidates in P.TXT and save their details as if you had entered each detail by hand.
  • In the AB Exams 2011 directory make a file called N.TXT in the form ENTERING_NAME_PLUS_QUALIFICATIONS <ENTER
    Commas here are not delimiters, so can be used to separate diplomas etc. If N.TXT exists, a vertical scrollbar will appear to the left of entered by in the Candidate Data screen. Scroll through past "entering names", and save as above.

CONTACT

 

If you have problems, questions or suggestions for improvements or changes, please contact me:

David Andrews
Tel 01423 504373 or 07711 443076
E-mail: david@violinman.co.uk
Web site www.andrews-music.co.uk

Revised 29-Nov-2010