The truth about gradings . . .
Gradings are not obligatory! You can improve in skill and ability without ever grading at all!
Whether you pass or fail your grading is determined during your committment to your training (or lack of) not during the grading itself!
If you don't take it seriously don't expect anyone to take you seriously!
General points on good grading performance and behaviour . . .
Make sure your Dobok is clean and ironed. Your appearance is the first impression the grading examiner will have of you, will he expect a sharp performance from a scruffy student?
Remove all jewellery before grading, this is a health and safety hazard and should not be worn for any training anyway. Unless you have a good reason to keep them on, take your shoes off - Taekwondo is traditionally a bare-footed art!
Don't speak during your grading unless told to or asked a question and follow everything with 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' as appropriate.
Procedure on the day . . .
Try to arrive around the 'arrival time' you've been given - remember this is NOT when you're grading will start, it's meant to give you a little time to get yourself ready.
When you arrive at the grading venue go into the ground floor hall, here you can prepare yourself and wait to be called upstairs for your grading. Toilets and changing rooms are also on the ground floor.
While you wait to be called upstairs for your grading you can practice and revise - while you're not going to be able to improve anything at this late stage a little practice will help warm you up and some revision will help confirm the things you know, both help get your mind focussed on what you're doing. Leave any non-essential possessions downstairs (basically everything except yourself and your sparring kit if appropriate for your grading).
You will be called as part of a 'grading group' - usually ten or twelve people - who will all be of the same rank and who will be grading with you. You will go through all the physical parts of the grading as a part of this group, never on your own.
Once you enter the grading hall (upstairs) everything you do will influence your grading! While you're only marked on the official 'grading requirements' everything else still affects the outcome - your behaviour and attitude will have a psychological effect on your grading and theory examiners - disrespectful and/or unenthusiastic actions will create a negative impression of you and cast a shadow over the rest of your performance.
Bow when you enter the grading hall then sit down - pay attention to what's going on in front of you, don't start chatting!
Unless you are in the very first grading group there will be another group already 'in action', don't do anything that may distract them! If they are of the same grade as you then take the opportunity to watch what happens - it's you next!
On the floor of the grading hall there will be twelve numbered 'marks', these are positions for students to stand on when initially making up rows for the physical part of the grading. When your name and mark number is called stand up quickly and call out 'Here Sir!', then run (yes run! Strolling will not give the impression that you're taking the grading very seriously!) to the mark indicated on the floor (marks are arranged as you would expect them from having made up rows in class - starting from 1 at the front right). When you get to your mark bow towards the examiner then make parallel ready stance.
Your grading group will be arranged to accurately reflect the grading cards in front of the examiner, to check that this is correct the command 'Name and grade from position one' will be issued. This means that each student, starting with the strudent on mark one and progressing in numerical order, should come to attention, raise their right hand, and clearly say their name and grade. (For example "John Smith, 10th Kup, Sir!") Then return to parellel ready stance. This is an administrative task, you're not marked on whether or not you know your own name and grade!
The physical part of your grading will begin. Obey all commands issued, you will not be asked to perform any techniques or activities that you have not already practiced in class many times before.
When the physical part of the grading is over the comand 'Lead off from position one to the Black Belt pannel' will be issued. This means that the group should, in numerical order (#1 first, followed by #2, followed by #3 etc) go to the theory table at the rear of the hall for theory testing. Don't stop at the table though! Go past it and wait by the rear wall for your name to be called by a theory tester, don't sit down - your grading isn't over yet!
When your name is called by one of the theory testers (Usually a club Instructor for one of the clubs attending the grading) move promptly into position in front of that tester, come to attention and bow when told. Stand up straight in front of your tester, don't slouch, lean on the table or crane forward to try to look at the grading card! Try to answer each question clearly and follow each with 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' as appropriate. If you don't know an answer then just say 'I don't know Sir.' (or 'I don't know Ma'am'). Trying to 'con' your tester or offer excuses never does any good! You will not be asked anything inappropriate for your grade, often you will be asked about techniques or exercises you have just performed!
Once your theory test is over you will be told (by your theory tester) to come to attention and bow, then to move out to the back of the hall and sit down - at this point 'your' grading is over! Remember though, that other people are still grading - don't disrespect them by talking or causing any distraction!
At a suitable point an official will take your grading group out of the grading hall, remember to bow on your way out and remember that the walls aren't sound-proof so don't start chatting the moment you're out of the door!
Collect anything or anyone you've left downstairs and go home. You will be told your result during your next lesson after the grading day.