Rockschool | Useful Tips!
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Useful Tips!

Here is some General Information for teachers and students who may be new to Rockschool.

General Tips

The Exam

  • No live accompaniment is permitted.  All pieces must be performed to a pre-recorded backing track.
  • No-one is allowed in the exam room apart from the examiner and candidate (unless previously discussed and approved by AMEB.)
  • 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.
  • All backing tracks for Free Choice Pieces and transposed songs (vocals only) must be brought to the exam on a usb stick.  No devices please.
  • All students 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 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 practice with the backing track. 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 to access your backing tracks using this code.
  • Free Choice pieces are not allowed for Let’s Rock, Premiere exams.
  • Photo ID is required for all students attending a Grade 6 and above exam. If the candidate doesn’t have photo idea, please use this form to prove identity.

Syllabus Updates

  • Guitar, Bass Drums – new repertoire books were introduced in 2019.  There are no changes to the technical work requirements for these syllabuses.
  • Piano – A new syllabus (repertoire and technical work) was released in February 2019.  The old syllabus is now not examinable.
  • Keys – A brand new syllabus (repertoire and technical work) was released in February 2019.
  • Vocals – New vocal repertoire is coming sometime in 2021. The syllabus itself will not be changing.
  • Acoustic Guitar – the new syllabus is now in circulation and the old syllabus is no longer examinable.
  • The latest edition of Music Production books became available in 2019 with a new Coursework element.  60% of the assessment can now be done before the exam date as coursework.  Look for the Music Production – Coursework Edition books in the online shop.
  • If you have the old version of Music Production you are welcome to contact us to obtain complimentary copies of the new edition in digital format.

Instrument Specific Tips


  • Ad-libbing and re-working of the melody is no longer a requirement for Grade 3 and up.
  • Transposition of songs is acceptable.  Please bring a backing track to the exam in the new key.
  • Female candidates may use songs from the Male grade books and vice versa. These do not count as Free Choice Pieces.
  • All songs must be performed with a recorded backing track not a live accompanist, unless the candidate would like to accompany themselves.
  • Vocals candidates may accompany themselves in free choice pieces on an instrument they can play while singing, such as guitar, piano or ukulele.


  • The new Piano Syllabus came out in February 2019 and is examinable from September 2019.
  • The Old Piano Syllabus is examinable until September 2020.
  • When you enrol, please make sure you select either the OLD or NEW Piano Syllabus for your exam.
  • All songs must be performed to a backing track apart from the new ‘solo’ options in the 2019 Piano syllabus.


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


  • All candidates are encouraged to wear ear-plugs or headphones.
  • Please bring your own drum sticks.
  • You are welcome to bring your own cymbals and snare drum from Grade 6 and up.

Electric Guitar

  • Candidates may perform on an acoustic guitar for Grades Debut to 2.  From grade 3 and up they must have an electric guitar.

Acoustic Guitar

  • At Diploma level, please use the guidelines for ‘Guitar’.


  • For some pieces the candidate can 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 (March 2021) video guideline document.
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