When i was a child i remember going to piano exams in people houses. They always had grand piano and it was the only time I got to play on one. I did however grade 7 as an adult i think bad piano and bad location. It a very dingy run. The piano was not a grand but as i never play on grand this was not an issue for me. It just felt a cheap and rubbish to me. The piano pedal did not really work. It did not seem to have a great dynamic range. I struggled to play quietly on it which made my first piece difficult. I have heard however that many centres have good pianos. I did no research and picked the nearest centre which may have been the problem. I also did not know the rules of the piano exam (apparently you needed photo copies of the pieces for the examiner to follow!). I did much better than I did as a child but bad piano is a definite issue. i have heard that going to a centre that also does piano diplomas tend to be better as you need proper good pianos for that.
It is totally incomprehensible to me that an examination should take place on an instrument that is not properly regulated. That may well depend upon the organization that is running the examination and the people at individual locations who are responsible for choosing and preparing the venue for the examinations, but I see no excuse for a bad piano.
That said, the candidate doesn't have much choice, given the cost of some of the examinations; you have to do the best you can with what is there. Of course we have been told that a "good" pianist can play on any piano, but that's still not an excuse for a bad piano at an examination venue.
Slightly off topic:
For some examinations (RCM Toronto, for example) photocopies are forbidden ...
- "Students must provide the examiner with an original, published copy of all music to be performed at the examination.
- Students who choose to perform with music should bring two original copies to the examination, one to play from and one to give to the examiner.
- Photocopied music is not permitted in the examination room unless the student has a letter of permission from the publisher or website.
- Students who wish to photocopy one page of a selection to facilitate a page turn may do so only with permission from the publisher. [Piano Syllabus, 2015 Edition, pp. 96 and 99]
- In lower levels, two memory marks are awarded for each repertoire selection performed by memory for a total of 6 marks
- In levels 8 to 10, one mark will be deducted for each repertoire selection that is played with the music.
- For the diploma (ARCT), memorization is compulsory.