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Prep Test

About the Prep Test

The Prep Test is a fun first assessment before graded exams. It provides a goal to work towards, supports the development of good musical and technical foundations, and celebrates achievement. 

The test takes 10 minutes and covers musical skills and understanding that learners will be working on at this stage: pitch, time, tone, shape, performance and musical perception. 

This is a face-to-face assessment with no pass or fail. The examiner doesn't award marks. Instead, they write helpful comments on a certificate and give this to the candidate at the end of the test. 

What’s new

We’ve published an exciting new Piano Prep Test (from 2025) book. It includes new tunes and pieces composed to stimulate curiosity and imagination, making learning fun from the very first step. It also covers all the other requirements with helpful guidance for the day. 

You can use the new Piano Prep Test (from 2025) book in assessments from 1 January 2025 onwards. 

There is a one year overlap period which means you can continue to use the current Piano Prep Test book until 31 December 2025.

Who it's for

The Prep Test is for beginner musicians of any age. It's available for the following subjects: 

  • Piano 
  • Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass 
  • Guitar 
  • Descant Recorder, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone 
  • Horn, Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn, E Flat Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, Tuba 
  • Singing
What's in the test

Tunes - three short exercises 

Set piece/song - from the Prep Test book for your subject or one of our alternative books

Own choice piece/song - around 16 to 24 bars long 

Listening games - simple aural tests  

Your examiner will be happy to play any piano accompaniments or piano duet parts, or you can bring your own accompanist. 

Most subjects have their own book with everything you need for the test. See books and repertoire below.

Certificate reprints

Books and repertoire

We publish Prep Test books for most subjects. These cover all requirements apart from the own-choice piece. If the book for your instrument is currently out of print, please contact us for advice.

Alternative pieces and own-choice repertoire 

For some subjects, candidates can play an alternative piece to the ones in the Prep Test book. You can choose from the books listed below. These books are also a good place to find own-choice pieces. 

  • Party Time! – for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet or Trumpet  
  • Piano Star Five-Finger Tunes 
  • Piano Star 1 
  • Piano Star 2 
  • Piano Star Duets 

The examiner provides immediate feedback at the end of the test. They write positive comments and suggestions on the certificate which they hand to the candidate. They do not award marks and there’s no pass or fail. The examiner’s comments will cover some of the following:  

  • Sense of pitch and rhythm  
  • Control of tone  
  • Listening skills and awareness 

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