Rockschool | Useful Tips
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Useful Tips

General Information for teachers and students preparing for Rockschool exams

General Tips

The Exam

  • Live accompaniment is now allowed in all Rockschool exams.  Candidates may bring a pianist or guitarist into the exam room. Please note that accompaniments for Grade book pieces must be the approved Rockschool accompaniments.
  • Self-accompaniment is now allowed.
  • No-one (apart from an accompanist) is allowed in the exam room apart from the examiner and candidate (unless previously discussed and approved by AMEB.)
  • Adaptations to Grade Book pieces are now allowed. These include minor deviations and musical embellishments.
  • Make sure you have enrolled for the correct exam: Grade Exam (3 pieces plus technical work, unseen tests and general musicianship questions) OR Performance Certificate (5 pieces only).
  • Arrive at the venue at least 20 minutes before the exam time and tune your instrument.
  • Every student must bring their Rockschool Grade book to the exam (or a registered downloaded version) and the examiner will sign these in the exam.
  • Candidates do not need to provide backing tracks for Grade Book pieces in the exam. The examiner will have these for the Grade book pieces and will play them in the exam.
  • Backing tracks are optional for Free Choice Pieces.
  • If you are playing to a backing track for your Free Choice Pieces and transposed songs (Vocals only) you must bring the tracks to the exam on a USB or a device, downloaded and ready to play.  No streaming is allowed. The candidate must operate the device themselves. 
  • At the start of the exam, you will be allowed 1-2 minutes to set up before the exam commences.
  • 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.
  • For all free choice pieces a copy of the sheet music must be provided for the examiner to read in the exam.  This needs to be notated but only for the instrument line being assessed (a full score is not required).

Exam Preparation

  • Candidates will be assessed according to the Assessment Criteria for each instrument.  You can find the Assessment Criteria in the Syllabus Guide for your instrument which you can downloaded for free from the instrument page on this website.
  • Students should practise their Grade Book pieces with the backing track (not applicable to solo pieces). This is a key part of the Rockschool program and they will be assessed on their ability to play in sync with the backing track.
  • Backing Tracks – A download code comes with every book.  Go to the RSL website downloads page to access your backing tracks using the code.
  • Free Choice pieces are not allowed for Premiere exams.
  • You should not make any adaptations to your instrument which make it easier to play, such as stickers on the frets or keys, or drum pads/dampeners. Adapting your instrument in this way will result in reduced marks.
  • Photo ID is required for all students sitting exams at Grades 6-8. If the candidate doesn’t have photo ID, please use this form to prove identity. Photo ID must also be provided for video exams, either by showing ID to camera for 10 seconds, or providing separately. Please contact your AMEB State Office for instructions on providing ID for video exams.
  • While we encourage candidates to make use of the Learning Platform and interactive eBook technology, this cannot be used in exams, as it offers an advantage over traditional books, and internet access can’t be guaranteed in exam venues. Instead, candidates should download a PDF copy of their book, or bring a hardcopy.

Syllabus Updates

  • Vocals –  The old Vocals syllabus is no longer available for examination. Pieces from the 2014 books may be used as Grade book pieces in exams.
  • Band exams are no longer on offer from 2024.
  • CQ Podcasting and Vlogging exams are no longer on offer from 2024.

Instrument Specific Tips


  • Transposition of songs is acceptable.  Please bring a backing track to the exam in the new key.
  • For any songs sung in a language other than English, an English translation of the lyrics must be provided for the examiner.
  • Vocals candidates may accompany themselves on an instrument they can play while singing, such as guitar, piano or ukulele.
  • Pieces from the 2014 Grade books may be used in exams as Grade book pieces.


  • All songs must be performed to a backing track apart from the ‘solo’ options in the 2019 Piano Grade book. Solo items should be played unaccompanied.


  • All candidates for this syllabus must bring their own keyboard and stand to the exam.


  • All candidates are encouraged to wear ear-plugs or headphones. Candidates must not use industrial hearing protection or noise-cancelling headphones.
  • All candidates should be prepared to play on an acoustic kit in their exam, even if they usually play an electric kit. Some exam venues may be able to offer an electric kit for exams – please contact your state office for more information.
  • Please bring your own drum sticks.
  • You are welcome to bring your own cymbals and snare drum from Grade 6 and up. Please advise your state office at enrolment if you would like to do this.

Electric Guitar

  • Candidates may perform on an acoustic guitar for Grades Debut to 3.  From Grade 4 and up they must have an electric guitar.


  • For some pieces the candidate may choose between the two written parts.  For some pieces only one part can be played in the exam.  Please check the grade books carefully to see which parts can be assessed.

Video Exam Tips

  • For lots of information about video exams please visit our dedicated Video Exam page.
  • Video Guidelines – Please download our updated video guideline document found on the Video Exam page.
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