Exam Tips

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

General Tips

The Exam

    • Live accompaniment is now permitted. 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. Please let us know in advance if you are bringing an accompanist.
    • Self-accompaniment is now allowed.
    • No-one is allowed in the exam room apart from the examiner, candidate and accompanist (unless previously discussed and approved by AMEB Rockschool.)
    • 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 pieces from the Grade book – examiners have these 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 device, downloaded and ready to play. No streaming is allowed. The candidate must operate the device themselves. If you would prefer to use a USB instead, please contact us first as this may not always be possible.
    • At the start of the exam, candidates are 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).
    • 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.

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 download for free from the instrument page on this website.
  • Candidates should practice with the backing track (not applicable for 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.
  • Photo ID is required for all students attending a Grade 6 and above exam. If the candidate doesn’t have photo ID, please use this form to prove identity.

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 from the Grade books is acceptable.  Please bring a backing track to the exam in the new key.
      • Vocals candidates may accompany themselves on an instrument they can play while singing, such as guitar, piano or ukulele.
      • For any songs sung in a language other than English, an English translation of the lyrics must be provided for the examiner.
      • 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 books. 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 are not permitted to 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 us 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 us at enrolment if you plan on doing 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 can choose between the two written parts.  For other pieces only one part can be played in the exam.  Please check the grade books carefully to see which parts can be assessed.