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Helpful Hints

Your friendly AMEB team is here to help.

Your best starting point, however, is to get familiar with the appropriate AMEB Syllabus. This will ensure you are aware of, and have prepared, all requirements for your exam. The Syllabuses also include exam expectations and a wealth of information on topics such as using photocopies, page turning, accompanists, pencil markings and more.

Below are some of our best tips that we hope will help you in preparing for the big day.

If you still have questions, please contact us here at the AMEB Tasmania office.

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AMEB exams are open to all ages and we aim for best practice in child protection for those who are youngest, most vulnerable (and most prolific) candidates.

Please be aware that exams are undertaken behind closed doors to maintain the integrity of confidential examining materials and to cultivate an environment that supports and promotes concentration and respect. Wherever possible, exam rooms are selected with windows to permit visibility to parents and guardians. Please be mindful that observers (however discreet) can be very distracting to those in the exam room. Examiners work hard to create an encouraging and non-stressful atmosphere for all candidates. If this examining situation is of concern to you, please consider our Recorded Exam options or have a chat with us as to how we can better support your child.

All AMEB Tasmania staff hold current Working with Vulnerable People checks and the selection processes for all team members include rigorous reference checks.

Please note that AMEB Supervisors are in attendance to ensure the smooth operations of exam days, provide assistance, and generally ensure all things are conducted in a safe manner. While they are attentive to the needs of everyone attending AMEB exams, the care and supervision of candidates under 18 remains the responsibility of parents/guardians at all times. This includes attendance at, and travel to and from, the exam venue, and any arrangements made for a responsible adult, other than the parent/guardian, to supervise on their behalf (for example the student's teacher).

Candidates and their guests are expected to abide by any instructions given by AMEB staff during an exam day - these instructions may be for your safety. AMEB staff may direct a person to leave the premises if they are deemed to be a concern to the safety or wellbeing of others, and/or the proper conduct of AMEB business.

We welcome any advice as to how we can best support Candidates with special needs. The enrolment form has a section for this, which is seen by our admin team and shared with the team on the ground for exam day.

Here are a few more reminders for specific specialties. Read on to check if anything pertains to your exam...

Senior Exams - ID required

  • If you're doing a Grade 8 or Diploma exam, or any Rockschool exam from Grade 6 and upwards, you'll need to bring photographic ID with you. This includes PAA and Creative Qualifications exams. If you don't have a photo ID, that's ok - please complete the Photographic ID form, and bring it with you on your exam day.

Download the Photographic ID form

Rockschool Reminders

  • Every student must bring their Rockschool Grade book to their exam (or a registered downloaded version), which the Examiner will sign.
  • All candidates will do a sound-check before they start their pieces to make sure the backing track volume is at the right level for them.
  • All backing tracks for Free Choice Pieces and transposed songs (vocals only) must be brought to the exam on a USB stick. No devices or streamed tracks please.
  • A copy of all Free Choice Pieces must be notated (for the instrument line being assessed) and provided for the Examiner to read in the exam.
  • Pro tip: Practice with the backing track. This is a key part of the Rockschool syllabus and you will be assessed on your ability to play in sync.

Rockschool Keys
All candidates for this syllabus must bring their own keyboard to the exam.

Rockschool Drums
All candidates are encouraged to wear ear-plugs or headphones. Please bring your own drumsticks. You are welcome to bring your own cymbals and snare drum from Grade 6 upwards.

Rockschool Guitar
While the Guitar syllabus is designed for electric guitar, candidates may perform on an acoustic guitar for Grades Debut to 2. From Grade 3 upwards, candidates must use an electric guitar.

Diploma Preparation Tips

  • Start early. This is a big undertaking.
  • Choose an excellent (not just good) accompanist.
  • Learn slowly and thoroughly in the early stages.
  • Investigate the structure and context of the works as you are learning them.
  • Have notes and memory secure weeks or even months before the performance.
  • Listen to music – and not just the works you are playing.
  • Record yourself. And listen critically to it.
  • Arrange trial performances in front of family and friends.
  • Develop a strong concept of what you want the music to say – don’t focus on mere technical survival.
  • As the performance approaches, get plenty of rest and exercise, eat well, and keep your life balanced.
  • Don't forget to study the whole piece - you'll be asked about the accompaniment.
  • Avoid last minute (cram) practice. All the work has been done – trust yourself.
  • Arrive at the venue in plenty of time.

And, most important of all, read up on the advice that our Federal Examiners have taken the time to put together.

Getting Started

Make sure you or your teacher are familiar with the syllabus requirements and that you’ve prepared accordingly. Regular practice of all sections of the exam ensures the best preparation. Teachers are advised to incorporate aural and sight-reading practice throughout regular lessons.

Scales, arpeggios and studies might seem like hard work (and, let’s face it, they can be boring) but the benefits of developing an accuracy of tuning, strong independent fingers or good vocal skills are quickly recognised when tackling difficult passages in your pieces. Remember – all music is full of scales and intervals so give yourself a head start by making the scales second nature.

Make sure you know the feeling or mood you want to convey for each work – the title of the piece will often give you a good clue but ask your teacher if you’re unsure. If you have a picture, story or emotion in your mind as you perform, you can bring it to life for both yourself and the listener.

Successful candidates often have teachers who conduct small performances or mock exams for their studios in the lead up to the exam date. These opportunities allow students to identify and address areas of weakness, and become familiar with any performance anxieties, prior to their assessment. They also provide the student with some trial runs to give both the teacher and student a realistic indication of how they might perform in their exam.

You may also want to check out the advice from our Examiners. Each year, they provide feedback on common areas for improvement and ways to take your exam to the next level.

Read the Examiner's advice

Don’t forget to print your Notification of Examination with the corresponding repertoire list, completed with the information of the pieces you are performing – you’ll need to print this document single-sided and bring both pages to the exam. Can't find your Notification? It's at your fingertips in Score. Find your exam and click the Actions button to view the Notification and print.

Playing From Memory

You are expected to memorise technical work. It is not a requirement in grade exams to play pieces from memory, although this is a good practice to get into, and is certainly encouraged. The Examiner will note where a piece has been memorised on the exam report. While memorising will not automatically mean an upgraded result, it will enhance the performance through greater confidence, which will be recognised by the examiner.

Accompaniment

Working with Accompanists

Practice with your accompanist as much as possible before the day of your exam. You will need to balance carefully with each other and the pianist will need to know your preferred speed for each piece. Provide your accompanist with a copy of your Notice of Examination so they are very clear about your exam date, time, grade, venue, etc, so you both arrive punctually and well prepared for your exam. Please note that warm up rooms are not available at all venues and access is often limited when they are. Candidates should not expect to be able to rehearse with their accompanist ahead of their exam.
If using an accompanist, candidates are responsible for arranging all rehearsals and exam attendance.

Recorded Accompaniments

Rockschool Syllabuses are the exceptions to this section – please read the Specialist section above.

Where AMEB recorded accompaniments are available, candidates may perform with those recordings as an alternative to using an accompanist, however it is the candidate's responsibility to provide and operate suitable equipment for the exam.
We recommend that you practice with your recording regularly to develop an awareness of the accompaniment part, and how it fits with your own. Where candidates are performing with recorded accompaniments in an examination, they must use the '100%' or 'performance' tempo.
Teachers and parents should be mindful of the candidate's age and technical ability when using recorded accompaniments. Equipment should be tested prior to the exam day to ensure it works. Please ensure speakers are of good quality so that the Examiner can comfortably hear the accompaniment.

Use of electronic or digital devices or resources

All equipment should be tested and tagged prior to being plugged into AMEB venue electrical supplies.
It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that all of their own equipment is in working order and all resources are ready to go promptly at the start of their scheduled exam time.
It is strongly suggested prior to attendance at the venue that candidates check/test that any devices or electronic or digital resources are working as intended, and where relevant, are compatible with any advertised AMEB requirements. This applies to laptops, tablets, PowerPoint presentations, speakers, recordings, or supporting resources of any kind.
Candidates should ensure they are very familiar with the equipment and know how to troubleshoot common issues to avoid delays in presentation. It is not the role of AMEB Supervisors or Examiners to provide IT or technical support.

Checklist for Exam Day

  • Eat a good breakfast to fuel your day.
  • Make sure you've packed everything you need, including your sheet music, instrument, accessories (eg spare strings or reeds, foot rest, cleaner, mouthpiece, etc) and anything else you need to perform at your best.
  • Arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your exam time – all candidates must be ready at the time of their scheduled exam and there are a few registration items to attend to upon arrival (not to mention getting yourself mentally prepared). Lateness may result in the candidate forfeiting their examination, and/or incurring a transfer fee to reschedule the exam.
  • Plan your journey to the exam venue well in advance and allow plenty of time for traffic delays. If you are commuting on public transport, check ahead of time for any potential disruptions to your service.
  • Dress appropriately in smart casual attire to show respect for both the performance situation and your examiner.
  • If you play an instrument that needs tuning or warming up, leave yourself extra time as there is no time in the exam to assemble instruments. A tuning check is provided in the exam room but everything else should be set up and ready to go. It is not the responsibility of the examiner to tune your instrument for you.
  • A warm-up room may be available for higher grades at some venues, but this can not be guaranteed.
  • It is important that you bring your Notice of Examination and Repertoire Form with you – the Notification must be sighted by the Exam Supervisor, and the Repertoire Form goes to your Examiner.
  • Ensure that you (or your teacher) clearly write either Aural Tests or Sight Reading on your Repertoire Form if you are enrolled for an exam in a For Leisure syllabus.
  • Make sure that all the pencil markings indicating keys or other information are rubbed out. Marks for fingering, bowing, and musical interpretation are perfectly fine to leave on the page.

All candidates sitting exams for Grade 8 and above (Grade 6 and up for Rockschool) must present photographic identification to the AMEB Supervisors on the day

Identification options are:

  • school identification card
  • university student card
  • passport
  • driver's license

If photographic identification is not provided on the day of the exam, candidates are required to email the Photographic ID Form to the AMEB Tasmania office within 24 hours of the exam. Exam results will be withheld if identification is not provided.

Download the Photographic ID form

In the Exam Room

The Examiner, the Candidate, the accompanist, and/or a page turner are the only people permitted in the exam room, unless prior approval has been granted by AMEB (P Plate Piano is the only exception). Accompanists and page turners may only remain in the room during the pieces they are required for. String teachers may assist with tuning prior to the exam but please be mindful of the tight schedule for the day and do so as expediently as possible. We recommend taking the A from the exam piano at the start of the day and tuning your students while they wait.

Have all your original music ready. Placing tabs or markers on the correct pages will help you find your pieces quickly. Even if playing from memory, you will need to have all the music with you to answer your general knowledge questions.

Any photocopies for the Examiner should be accompanied by the APRA AMCOS Form For Copied Music. For more information on the provisions of the Copyright Act, please refer to the APRA AMCOS website or email schools@apra.com.au.

Break a Leg

Examiners are invariably also teachers themselves so they appreciate your efforts in preparing for your exam. They're also human and lovers of the performing arts so they really do want to see you do well.

If your Examiner asks you to cut a piece short or tells you that your second extra list piece need not be presented, this is not necessarily due to poor performance on your part. It's far more likely that they have made this request because they have already heard enough of your program to form their assessment, or it may be due to time constraints.

Exams Aren't Meant to be Scary

Parents and guardians should be mindful of their own anxiety about exams as children are prone to pick up on this. Be sure to provide unconditional support, and encourage your child in a positive way regardless of the outcome.

The Exam Supervisor is there to help you on the day of your exam. Examiners and Supervisors alike are all lovely people and genuinely want you to give your best performance. Examiners understand that you may be nervous and take this into account.

The best advice for Candidates is to practice sufficiently and know your pieces, and then relax and enjoy the experience of performing in your exam.

Above all, enjoy your studies and your performance opportunities, regardless of whether your goal is to become a professional musician, actor, dancer, or performer, a teacher, or simply to enjoy the subject as a hobby and creative outlet.

What Happens Next?

After Examiners complete their reports and return them to the office, the reports are double checked and uploaded to Score. When yours is ready, we'll send a notification email to the enroller, who can then can log on and download the exam report. The report is visible to both the Candidate and the Enroller (who may be the teacher, the parent, or adult learner). We aim to get your report to you as quickly as possible but please don't be worried if this takes a few weeks (especially in the larger sessions). There are a number of factors that can slow this process but we absolutely understand that you're anxious to hear of your results - they'll be with you as soon as possible.

Certificates are dispatched to successful candidates a little while later. We process these in bulk at key points in the year, enabling us to prioritise your reports and other important customer service tasks. Candidates who have completed a senior Grade requiring a corequisite theory component will either receive their certificate or an email to advise them of the incomplete requirements. There's plenty of time to do that part - just make sure you let us know when it's complete so that we can get your certificate to you.

Please note that Rockschool certificates often take a little longer to reach you as the international accreditation process requires some additional steps in the UK.

What if the day didn't quite go as planned?

Exams are a single snapshot of your developmental journey and the report is a commentary of that single point in your journey, as it is on that particular day at that time. Examiners assess your performance and fulfilment of the syllabus requirements as demonstrated during your exam - this is not a commentary on your general standard as a performer, or your future potential.

If you’re disappointed with your result, focus on the comments rather than the grade. If you felt that nerves affected your performance, work with your teacher to be better prepared for your next exam or learn to manage your nerves more effectively in your next performance. Many talented performers (and probably most teachers and examiners) have stumbled in exams or performances on their path to greatness. Nevertheless, those who respond with a positive attitude, dedication, strength of character and a love of their craft will take the necessary steps to address their areas for improvement and ensure future success.

If you do happen to feel that the report does not reflect the calibre of the exam performance, please see our Policies section to understand your rights, and information regarding the Appeals process.

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