Guide to Examinations

Hints and tips on how to become a member of
The Magic Circle


This sets out the procedures by which magicians can join The Magic Circle and current members can progress to higher degrees within the Society. Hopefully it will assist all those taking the necessary examinations.

You may also wish to read our GUIDELINES FOR MARKING.


The two degrees of the Society obtainable by examination are:

(a) Member of The Magic Circle, M.M.C.
(b) Associate of The Inner Magic Circle, A.I.M.C.

Advancement to Membership of The Inner Magic Circle, M.I.M.C. is only by call of the president in Council.


(a) Practical – Stage or Close-Up performance
(b) Theoretical – Written thesis

The Council strongly prefers that a magician shall seek promotion by practical examination although promotion may be awarded to those who have, by their writings and in the opinion of the Council, merited such advancement. Those passing a practical examination for A.I.M.C. will be awarded a Silver Star with that degree. Similarly a Gold Star will be added to the M.I.M.C. degree to indicate an appropriate level of performance skills.


(a) The Magic Circle headquarters: Special arrangements are regularly made for examinations for both stage and close-up at our headquarters, where ideal conditions exist, before an audience of members,apprentices, and their guests. Whenever possible it is recommended that candidates be examined during our club night evenings, usually Monday, by arrangement with the examinations secretary. Close-up examinations are normally held in the Devant Room. If any sound equipment is required this must be provided by the candidate and must have a valid Portable Appliance Test (PAT) certificate. In the theatre, where stage examinations are held, full facilities are available. For Health and Safety reasons we have very strict guidelines regarding the use of fire anywhere in the building including on stage. If your act includes any fire, even the use of a small quantity of flash paper, you must discuss this with the examinations secretary at least a week before the day of your examination.

(b) Shows, competitions and social functions of The Magic Circle: Performers participating in Society occasions of this nature may, at the discretion of the events or club night committees, apply to the examinations secretary who will arrange for examiners to attend if at all possible.

(c) Videos/DVDs: Candidates who are unable to attend an examination at our headquarters may submit an unedited video or DVD recording of their act, performed before a live audience, for consideration by the examiners. In particular children’s entertainers may want to take up this option since it is impractical to provide a suitable audience at our headquarters. However such recordings should include examples of magical technique at the appropriate level whatever the target audience.

(d) Provincial centres: Providing it is possible to arrange for duly authorised examiners to be available, examinations may be held at certain provincial centres.

Candidates will be required to comply with the following conditions:

(i) At least 28 days’ notice must be given in writing to the examinations secretary.
(ii) A suitable venue for the examination must be arranged by the candidate.
(iii) The examinations secretary must be notified of the date and time of the performance and the venue.
(iv) The candidate is responsible for ensuring that facilities are available for examiners to attend the performance.

NOTE: The Magic Circle will not accept liability for any expenses incurred by the candidate.

(e) Overseas centres: Overseas candidates wishing to be examined should contact the examinations secretary who will endeavour to make the necessary arrangements with duly authorised examiners or, alternatively, will accept a video/DVD recording for their consideration.

(f) Under the present Covid restriction examination are being conducted via Zoom. For more information please contact the examinations secretary.


Candidates applying for membership of The Magic Circle will be contacted by the examinations secretary to arrange an interview at which an examination date will be agreed if appropriate. Candidates for A.I.M.C. are requested to contact the examinations secretary.


The fee for the M.M.C. examination is included in the entrance fee. No fee is charged for an A.I.M.C. examination. Candidates should contact the examination secretary to arrange a date.


PRACTICAL -Stage or Close-up performances

(a) Marking
Three members of the board of examiners will judge a practical performance and the candidate will be examined for magical ability and technique, presentation and personality, entertainment value, patter, structure of performance, originality and appearance as appropriate. The exact breakdown of the marking varies between M.M.C. and A.I.M.C. examinations and will be given to candidates by the examinations secretary.

(b) Duration of the act
The length of performance should not be less than 8 minutes and should not exceed 12 minutes. A well-rehearsed act would run to time, so candiadates may wish to aim for 10 –11 minutes. To further assist the candidate, a bell will ring after 10 minutes, indicating that they have two minutes remaining. Candidates will now be stopped if their act runs over the maximum time allowed of 12 minutes. For advice, and more details, regarding practical examinations please see Appendix I.

THEORETICAL – Written Thesis

In the event of the Council agreeing that a candidate shall be examined in theory, a candidate must submit a magical subject for approval. The candidate must then submit, within 6 months, a thesis of a minimum of 4,000 words. An appropriate examiner(s) will report upon the thesis and the joint agreement of the examiner(s) and the examinations secretary will be necessary for the Council to consider whether the standard of the thesis qualifies the candidate to be passed to M.M.C. or A.I.M.C.


Candidates will be notified of the results of the examination by the examinations secretary after the examiners’ reports have been considered by the Council. Successful candidates will be sent the appropriate badges for the M.M.C. and A.I.M.C. degrees. Jewels, etc. may be purchased from the The Magic Circle. Upon promotion to the degree of M.I.M.C. members will automatically receive the appropriate badge and jewel.

All communications relating to examinations, including requests for advice or practical help, should be directed to the examinations secretary by email to or by letter to: The examinations secretary, The Magic Circle, 12 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD.

A stamped (or International Postal Coupon) and addressed envelope should be included for a postal reply.



The following notes are to give you an idea of what the examiners are looking for and to guide you towards the preparation of your performance.


(a) Technique

In order to gain marks in this section it is not necessary to attempt difficult sleights, although it is essential that you have something beyond self-working tricks. It is advisable to include moves, which can be performed with confidence and certainty, as you should make some allowance for the inevitable nerves, which play a part in any performance. A flowing programme, which indicates that practice has enabled you to present movements well within your ability, is far more pleasing than advanced sleight of hand clumsily executed.

(b) Handling

Careful routining and thought will enable props to be used and disposed of smoothly. Know where everything is and exactly what you will do with it after use. Avoid having to search pockets or a cluttered table for props but rehearse the handling so they can be displayed cleanly and confidently without more movements than are necessary and natural.

(c) General ability in magic

The examiners will expect to see that you have prepared your performance with some thought to putting together an entertaining sequence of effects. A flowing routine should be the aim using items well within your capabilities, performed with confidence, allowing you to concentrate on the presentation. If you are not happy during your rehearsals with any item, change it for something you enjoy doing. Always search for ways of simplifying any moves which feel unnatural or clumsy in performance.


Very few candidates have failed their M.M.C. examination due to their lack of magical ability – but there are two major headings under which the vast majority of weaknesses occur… presentation and patter.

(a) The ‘patter’ act is when the effects are accompanied by talk. The tricks can be a mixture of general magic or specialising in one area – mentalism for example. Whatever your own views, racist, sexist and crude jokes or comments are not welcome at The Magic Circle. If in doubt – leave it out.

The main thing is to be natural, be yourself. Beware of trying to be a comedian for, unless this particularly suits you, it is a difficult path to tread. Your patter must be planned and polished to perfection. Polished patter will help to prevent ‘dead’ pauses and repetitive words and phrases. However avoid giving the impression that you are delivering a carefully written script which may sound false. Keep your patter mature – avoid story lines, which are obviously contrived and childish.

Ensure that your lines are delivered to the audience so that you can be heard by all. Most of the people in your audience are more attractive than your table-top (even at The Magic Circle!). Please look at them and NOT the table. Eye contact is vital.

If you use a stand microphone be sure that its use is rehearsed along with the tricks so that you do not have to keep moving away from it during your patter.

(b) The ‘silent’ act is when magic is performed without patter, normally to musical accompaniment.

The silent act may be easier to rehearse alone but obviously a higher standard of technical ability and smooth routining is necessary. Recorded music must be carefully chosen and prepared, put together to blend in with the effects and timed to fit the act. At our headquarters facilities are available for playing a variety of recorded media.

Personality is an abstract quality possessed to a greater or lesser extent by us all. As a magician your aim is to entertain people while apparently performing feats which are impossible to explain. It is therefore essential that you avoid the ‘look how clever I am’ approach and develop that greatest of all attributes for any performer – warmth, avoiding any suggestion of arrogance and thus enabling the audience to like you as a person.


Examinees should look at their performance and consider engaging the audience right from the start, taking them on an entertaining journey with a powerful end.


Examiners are looking for some originality, particularly in examinations for A.I.M.C., in either presentation or effect, or both.


Depending upon the style of your performance, suitable dress can take various forms but you must show that you have gone to some trouble in this regard. As a general rule you should try to be smarter and better dressed than the audience and some may consider that formal evening wear is invariably appropriate. The props used in your act, like your attire, should be immaculate. Your appearance will inevitably play a large part in the audience’s assessment ofyour personality.


Do not feel obliged to perform difficult tricks because your audience will consist of fellow magicians. It makes sense to work within your abilities. Sleight-of-hand can be self-satisfying but it’s merely a tool – a means to an end.

Your audience makes a judgement about you within the first fifteen seconds – so make sure your ‘opener’ is speedy, visual and magical and perform it with confidence and a smile. You must be at ease during those all-important fifteen seconds – a good, trouble-free, self-working trick could make sense.

However, an act consisting entirely of a succession of standard self-working dealer tricks is unlikely to earn you sufficient marks. Give yourself a challenge and make yourself an expert performer of one of the magical classics – ‘The Cups and Balls’, for example. Read everything you can, seek expert help and keep working on the trick until you have mastered it.


During rehearsals film yourself to highlight any weak spots in your performance. Be self-critical. The biggest room in the house is the room for improvement.

Appendix 2 – Guidelines for Examination by Thesis



If a candidate wants to be examined by submission of a thesis, they need to submit a subject relating to magic for approval to the Examination Secretary. Once approved, the candidate must then submit, within 6 months, a thesis recommended to be between 4,000 and 6,000 words, with a maximum of 10,000. Appointed examiners will report upon the thesis. The unanimous agreement of the examiners, and the examinations secretary, will be necessary for the Council to have the final say on whether the standard of the thesis qualifies the candidate to be passed to M.M.C. or A.I.M.C.


The object of the submission of a thesis is to demonstrate to the appointed examiners that the candidate has a sound theoretical knowledge of an appropriate aspect(s) of conjuring and/or its history, and has engaged in some original research.
The candidate should bear in mind that the intended audience for the thesis is the membership of The Magic Circle. Therefore, submitting a thesis that appears to be written for a different target audience is unlikely to meet the criteria.
To demonstrate the required depth of knowledge it is expected that a thesis submitted for the M.M.C. degree will be of at least 4,000 words, and for the A.I.M.C. degree of at least 6,000 words in length. The word count should include quotations and footnotes but not the bibliography and any appendices. An exception may be granted when a book is submitted (see Section 5 below).
The thesis should, in the first instance be submitted electronically as a PDF document in A4 format. However, if it is successful, one bound hard copy will need to be provided for the library.
At the conclusion of the assessment the candidate will be told the outcome, which will be one of the following:

1. Outright pass at the appropriate level of degree.

2. A pass, but requiring corrections for the bound hard copy. These might include, for example, corrections of spelling, repetition, etc.

3. Further work is required, which would need the thesis to be resubmitted. For example:
• the thesis contains factual inaccuracies;
• the thesis topic has been changed without prior approval;
• the structure of the thesis needs amendments;
• the thesis contains a significant amount of irrelevant material;
• the thesis does not come to a clear conclusion.

4. Fail: Reasons will be given for this decision


If relating to theoretical aspects of the performance of magic, the candidate must demonstrate some originality of thought, or of approach, to the selected topic. For example, the straightforward collation of all published articles on, say, “False Counts in Card Magic”, would not in itself be acceptable. It would be necessary for the candidate to compare, contrast and offer a personal evaluation of the various techniques and generally to display a significant awareness of the subject under discussion.

If relating to the history of magic, the candidate must engage in research which offers the opportunity for some original findings or observations. Thus, the simple collation of material on that topic from recognised texts on magical history without more input would not in itself be acceptable. There must be evidence that the candidate has made some contribution to knowledge of the area under consideration.


In general, the thesis should have a clear structure. All work should include:
A Title page bearing the title of the thesis, the candidate’s name, and the following statement: A Thesis Submitted for Promotion to the Degree of M.M.C. /A.I.M.C. (as appropriate).
On the page immediately after the title page, the following declaration must be signed and dated by the applicant:
I certify that I am the sole author of this thesis submitted as a requirement for promotion to the Degree of M.M.C./A.I.M.C. (as appropriate); that due acknowledgement is made in the text to all individuals who have assisted in any way in its preparation and that all published sources consulted are duly cited.

It is recommended that the Thesis is structured as follows:
Section 1: An Abstract or Summary: A brief statement of the topic of the research and, where applicable, a summary of the findings or conclusions reached.

Section 2: Introduction: The reasons for choice of topic, its particular interest to the candidate, its historical context (where applicable) and reference to any previously published work relating to it.
Section 3: Presentation of the body of original material.

Section 4: Discussion of the findings, observations, etc. and conclusions drawn.
(Sections 3 and 4 might, in some circumstances, benefit by being combined.)

Section 5: References and Bibliography: All citations of published articles, books, etc. must be properly referenced with the following information, arranged in alphabetical order of author in the Bibliography. The abbreviated in-text citation for each reference should be included at the relevant position in the thesis text, abbreviated with the author name and date as in the examples below.

For books: Author(s) name and initials, Year of publication, Title of book, Place of Publication, Publisher, The page numbers considered relevant.
For periodicals: Author(s) name and initials, Year of publication, Title of article, Title of periodical, Volume number, issue number, first and last page numbers.
Minch, S. (1991), The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley, Vol. 1. L & L Publishing, pp 27-29 In-text citation: (Minch, 1991)
Nelms, Henning (1969), Magic and Showmanship, New York, Dover, pp.152-155 In-text citation: (Nelms 1969)
Hoffmann, Professor (1876), Modern Magic, New York, 1978 Dover edition, pp. 475-477 In-text citation (Hoffmann, 1876)
Gardner, R. (1997), ‘Bottom Card Cover Slap Pass’, Abracadabra, Vol 104 (No.2680), 36-37. In-text citation: (Gardner, 1997)
Krenzel, K. (1997), ‘Gaze Detection’, Magic, Vol 6 (No 9), 70-71. In-text citation: (Krenzel, 1997)
If an article or citation is from the Internet, then the URL needs to be referenced along with the date that it was accessed.


In special circumstances, for example where the candidate has already published commercially a book or monograph on a relevant topic which demonstrates a high level of originality and contributes something new to magical knowledge then the publication might be submitted in place of a thesis. Candidates who believe they might be eligible in this way should, in the first instance, consult the Examinations Secretary.


In assessing the thesis, the examiners will be using the following criteria, with the approximate weight given to each:

• Knowledge of Subject (30%)
• Interpretation and Analysis (25%)
• Structure and Organisation of Material (25%)
• Evidence of reading and research (15%)
• Bibliographical and other referencing (5%)

To meet the criteria for M.M.C
• The candidate will have created an original text.
• The candidate will have demonstrated an awareness of previously published works on their chosen topic, and drawn from the range of available resources.
• The candidate will have chosen references / citations well and complemented them by original research and analysis.
• The candidate’s thesis will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.
In addition
• The style is clear and engaging
• Accuracy in spelling, punctuation and grammar, is of a high standard.
• The thesis displays the use of references, citing all sources by means of a detailed bibliography and acknowledging any additional input.

Furthermore, for the award of AIMC the thesis will contribute significantly to the body of knowledge on the chosen topic.