General Knowledge Questions for the AMEB

What is the AMEB Music exam?

The AMEB Music exam is an examination of general knowledge about music, which the performer has to pass in order to progress through the grades.

What age can you sit it?

Any age. If your child wants to study for the AMEB Music; firstly encourage them! Then find a good teacher who will teach them well and push them to do their best. The youngest grade available is Grade 3 so they would have to wait until they turn 9 years old before sitting for the exam.

Is there a fee?  How much does it cost?  Where can I get more information?

Yes, there is a fee of $70-80 per subject depending on school location and discounts are available for siblings. You can get more information from the AMEB website which is under “exams” tab at the top of the page then select “Music”. Or by calling 1300 697 659 or emailing

What grade will I achieve?

The Music exam grade will be an indication to how well your child did in their exams and what they should progress to next year, e.g., if they pass Grade 3 piano with 75% they will sit Grade Four next year if they are 9 years old when sitting the exam, otherwise they will move up straight away to Grade Five in October each year once they turn 10 years old (starting in 2014).

Where can I sit the exam?

The Music exams are only available to be sat in Australia. AMEB does not allow certificates to be sent out of Australia, so this must remain where they are sat. The exam is set by the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). [Note: Overseas students who need a replacement certificate or wish to have their grade result transferred on an AMEB form should contact our office for further information.]

How long will it take me?

Each subject is two hours and likely to consist of writing some theory questions and some listening questions which you do at home. You will need some basic musical knowledge before sitting them such as copying stave notation, Key signature time signatures etc… If your child has had at least 6 months of lessons beforehand they should be well prepared.

What do I need?  Is there a specific exam music book I can get?

Exam Music books are available for Grades 1, 2, 3 & 5 but not 4 or 6&7. The recommended grade exam music books are available on AMEB’s website although this is just a suggestion- it is up to the teacher if they want to use these or not. You can also ask your child’s piano teacher for their recommendation as to which books would work best.

The exam consists of:

  1. General knowledge
  2. Music theory
  3. Sight reading
  4. Choose a piece of music of a particular style

The music theory component of the AMEB Grades 1-5 exams includes analysis; ear training; history; writing skills; keyboard harmony; structure & form; rhythm & notation; scales & keys, chord progressions and sight reading. It is worth noting that this part does not require a ‘talent’ – anyone who practices enough will be able to pass this section.

How much practice is required?

Each musical instrument subject requires about 3-4 hours of practise and homework each week for at least 6 months prior to sitting. The more the better! It is best to start early rather than later, but if your child starts lessons late it’s not too late as they may enter exams starting from grade 1 next year. Please don’t think that they will have to do this every day though as AMEB Music Exam courses are only meant as a guide and you should allow some flexibility in the daily routine depending on the individual needs and readiness of your child.

Can I use my own choice of music?

Yes, you can but AMEB only accepts pieces within their “AMEB Series” which consists of piano pieces chosen by examiners. It is up to the teacher which pieces they want their students to play, so you can choose any piece within their coursebook for AMEB exams.

How many people do sit?  How many pass?

Each year about 8,000 students sit the Music exam in Australia. Of these only 10% will obtain an AMEB grade (Pass) and 80% obtain Merit (Merit).

Activities for Practise

It is very important that your child practices at least an hour or two every week with their piano teacher when preparing for the exam. If they are doing theory- they need to read through it all in order to memorize it . Have them write down short notes about each area of music theory so they don’t forget what they learn. They should also listen carefully to music (their own pieces or other people’s) and take note of rhythms, keys, time signatures etc…

Make sure your child knows how many pages there are in each grade book ( music is divided into chapters) and ask them to do a few pages at a time. It will be helpful if your child writes down any information they think is important while reading their theory book or going through the online AMEB website.

Make sure they have plenty of room for writing music- just using lined paper won’t be adequate. It would also help if you get them an advanced music workbook that can be used in conjunction with their piano teacher’s grade books. The idea is that they should not need to go back to the piano teacher each week but read through it once, practice a bit on their own and bring it to the next lesson so they don’t waste too much time going over the same material multiple times. This way your child can enjoy

more of the experience and not get bogged down by too much information.

Where can I order the book and find out more? Check ebay Australia.

I hope this information was helpful to you and I have included some practise questions below:

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