How To Be Successful With Music Aptitude Tests

Congratulations to my 11+ students who have entered music tests for admission to the

following schools:

  • Mill Hill County High
  • Watford Grammar School
  • Claremont High School Academy
  • Ashmole Academy

The results have been exceptionally good, and the hard work and preparation have surely

paid off.

For Mill Hill County High the seven students I have prepared all scored above 65 (last

year?s cut off score) with Karen scoring 94 and Jia 84. Well done!

All other students did very well and should have secured a place in their preferred schools,

with Jason doing exceptionally?well on his performance at Watford Grammar (43 out of 45), after

easily going through first stage aural test. Well done to Jason!



Why Music Aptitude Tests?

Securing a place in Britain?s best secondary schools is becoming more and more difficult.

If you are not lucky enough to live in the catchment area of some good schools (and we

know that this privilege is well reflected on the price of such houses), you are probably

thinking about getting your child prepared for the admission exams held by selective

secondary schools.

If your child is musical you have more options, since he or she could get through a music

aptitude test (MAT). The MAT is a test of aptitude and therefore does not require a child to

have received formal music training. (See a MAT sample testing-mat- training).

Sometimes knowing an instrument is not even needed, although more often the child is

required to perform a piece after passing the aural test.

Music Aptitude Tests : Tips and Advice

Having prepared many children, including my own students, to go through these tests for

about 12 years, I believe it would be useful to share my experience and provide some


1. Preparation – You need to give your child enough time to prepare for their music

aptitude test. This depends on each child, but it would help to start preparation at

least 4-6 months before.

2. Which school? – Decide which school you want to apply. All schools have different

requirements and the preparation should be tailored for the school(s) you have in


3. Complexity – If the child is required to give a performance, favour a piece your

child has really mastered. In other words a very good and confident rendition, in

terms of accuracy and understanding of all musical elements, is better than a less

confident performance of a more difficult piece.

4. Which Piece? – In case there is an interview, or a performance, it is important that

the child shows enthusiasm for music. Being keen, musical and committed is all it matters.

I would strongly recommend that the child?learns a piece outside the usual ABRSM/Trinity graded

pieces, because it shows?commitment and dedication.

5. Mock exams ? Your child should get used to the format of the test, in terms of types

of exercises and duration. For example, aural tests in many schools include

recognition of pitches, rhythm, melodies, patterns, etc. The child needs to write

down the answers on a blank sheet while the recording is playing. I have been

running simulation tests for a number of years and I have noticed how it always

requires a bit of time for the child to adjust to it and keep the concentration for the

duration of the test.

6. Performance ? Likewise, I would recommend to give plenty of opportunities for the

child to play in front of people. If the instrument is piano, it helps if he or she can

play on different pianos, getting used to overcoming the difficulty of playing on a

unfamiliar instrument.

You can find more information at

List of Schools

There are many schools that use Music Aptitude Tests as a selective?criterion for


Here is a list, which is not exhaustive:

  • Ashmole Academy
  • Bushey Meads School
  • Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
  • Claremont His School Academy
  • Dame Alice Owen
  • Haberdashers? Aske?s / Prendergast Hilly Fields / Crayford Academy
  • Highgate School
  • Langley Grammar School
  • Leventhorpe / The Bishop?s Stortford High School / The
  • Hertfordshire & Essex High School
  • Parmiter?s School
  • Queens? School (Bushey)
  • Rickmansworth School
  • South West Herts School consortium
  • St Anne?s Catholic School, Southampton
  • St Clement Danes
  • St Paul?s Way Trust School
  • The Hertfordshire & Essex High School and Science College
  • Uxbridge High School
  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • Watford Grammar School for Girls

Feel free to contact me if you have any question!

Lorenzo Rocco

London, 22 October 2016