Make sure you and your teacher are familiar with the syllabus requirements and that you’ve prepared accordingly, including more general things like playing from original music, or when you must perform with an accompanist. 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 put together 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 check your Exam Notification for reminders and instructions. You'll need to present your Notification to your Exam Supervisor on the day but this can be on your phone or as a printed page. Most exams require you to complete a repertoire list with the information of the works you're performing – this can be done in SCORE until a few days ahead of your exam. If you miss the cut off or need to make changes, print the last page of your Exam Notification, complete it, and take it with you to your exam. Can't find your Notification? It's at your fingertips in SCORE: find your enrolment, click the Options button, then View the Notification.
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.
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.
Rockschool Syllabuses are the exceptions to this section – please read the "Specific Reminders" 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.