Music Aptitude Test

Children applying under the Music Criterion will, in the first instance, complete a written test that will consist of 60 questions in four sections which are played on a CD. This test is usually in the main hall of the test centre on that school’s Audio/Visual Equipment which is used throughout the school year for a variety of aural examinations and takes around 45 minutes.

The questions are in relation to Pitch, Melody, Rhythm and Texture as follows:

Pitch: for these questions, candidates listen to two sounds and have to indicate whether the second sound is the same as the first, or whether it is higher or lower. There are twenty of these questions and some of the pitches are less than a semitone apart.

Melody: for these questions, candidates listen to two tunes consisting of five notes. Candidates have to decide whether the second tune is the same as the first or if one of the notes has been altered. If there is a change, candidates will be expected to identify which note has been altered, by giving the number of the note. There are ten questions in this section.

Texture: for these questions, candidates listen to a number of notes played together at the same time; this is called a chord. Candidates need to decide whether or not each chord has two, three or four notes. There are twenty questions in this section.

Rhythm: for these questions, candidates listen to two patterns of notes and have to decide whether the second pattern is the same as, or different from, the first, and where any difference occurs. Each rhythm will be four beats (or pulses) in length. There are ten questions in this section.

The music test is held AFTER school.

First stage music test results will be published on Wednesday 18th September around midday. All successful and unsuccessful applicants who attend Stage 1 of the music test will be able to log in to the parent portal and view their mark, prior to commencement of the Music Aptitude Test Second Stage week.

The second stage of the assessment process is conducted by experienced and impartial examiners, with each applicant’s set piece considered by a panel of two individuals, including former and current Directors of Music of the Consortium Schools.  During the assessments, up to three separate panels operate simultaneously, each of which is subject to internal moderation by the Director of Music at Watford Grammar School for Boys, working alongside the panels to ensure the consistency of the assessments.  At no point do any members of the panels have any knowledge of the school or schools the applicant may subsequently apply to.

The examiners establish musical aptitude by determining accuracy (maximum 15 marks), musicality (maximum 15 marks) and musical communication (maximum 15 marks), awarding a total score out of 45.  Marks are given irrespective of the proficiency level of the piece, which does not require any familiarity with music theory or other previous musical knowledge.  These are the only criteria for assessment and no other factors are considered when reaching a decision with regard to the overall score.

The applicant’s set piece should be a single composition of their own choosing either on a free choice of instrument or vocally.  This piece should last no longer than three minutes.  As the applicant can select an instrument and musical arrangement of their choice, it gives candidates of all abilities and all cultures equal opportunity to succeed.  Those applicants invited back will be given an individual appointment during the school day. Please see the Calendar for further details.

Music Aptitude Test Second Stage:

  • The notification time for the test is the adjudication time. You should arrive 10 minutes earlier to warm up prior to your performance in the warm up area provided. There will be a Clavinova for piano and keyboard candidates should they wish to warm up.
  • Your performance time must not be longer than 3 minutes. The examiners reserve the right to stop the performance if it exceeds this length. You may only play one piece of music.
  • You cannot bring your own accompanist. If you wish for a member of our staff to accompany you, you must bring music sheets for them.
  • If your child has changed instrument compared to that which was entered in the registration form then please inform the steward.
  • For piano/keyboard candidates there will be both an acoustic piano and a keyboard in the test room and the candidate can choose which one he/she prefers.
  • Although pianos and generic Casio keyboards (as found in many schools) are available, we recommend that you bring your own portable keyboard from home if you are more familiar with this instrument or if you require any other type than Casio.
  • Please ensure that your instruments are tuned before the test appointment. We do not have the facility to offer spare strings nor reeds.
  • Music stands can be provided.
  • Backing tracks can be brought in by a device compatible with Bluetooth. (e.g. phone, ipad etc). CDs can be brought but please bring your own CD player. If a CD is being used please ensure that the track is clearly specified and is preferably the only track on the CD.
  • For base and electric guitars – please bring your own amp and amp lead.
  • We can provide an acoustic drum kit but not an electronic one. Please bring your own drumsticks. You must inform the Clerks upon registration when you arrive that you require use of the drum kit.
  • The examiners will only converse with your child in order to ensure that they have warmed-up using the correct equipment and to settle them for their performance. No candidate will be asked about their music experience nor their qualifications as they are not relevant to the test.

Please remember that it is your responsibility, as a parent, to log on to the secure website to view the information at the appropriate times throughout the testing process.

Information regarding the dates upon which all final test results will be published can be found on the Calendar.   Having registered for the tests using a password which should be memorable and secure you must then log on to the parent portal regularly to view the initial registration, the allocation of the test centre, the tests you have selected and the allocation of Music Second Stage Test times if your child has been successful in the first stage.

Results of all tests will be available on the Parent Portal.

Please see the Calendar for information on timescales and deadlines. Please remember that it is your responsibility, as a parent, to log on to the Parent Portal to view the information at the appropriate times throughout the testing process.

Marking Review Requests

Requesting a marking review of your child’s Round 1 music test

Please contact the test centre at which your child took their Round 1 music test and request a marking review of the paper. This request should be made immediately following release of the Round 1 test scores.

Requesting a marking review of your child’s Round 2 music test

We do not offer marking reviews of Round 2 music tests and we do not provide parents with a breakdown of the marks awarded. If you believe that your child has extenuating circumstances which may have affected the outcome of the Round 2 music test, you will have the opportunity to cite these as part of an appeal during the Secondary Transfer Appeals Process.


Are the scores age-standardised?

The Music Aptitude test scores are not age-standardised.
Age-standardisation is used only for the Academic Ability tests.

Test Results

Please refer to the Calendar for information regarding the publishing of final test results.

Please remember that it is your responsibility, as a parent, to log on to the Parent Portal to view the information at the appropriate times throughout the testing process.