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01/07/2017

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How to pass an ABRSM exam - Aural Tests

AURAL TESTS are possibly one of the most feared parts of an ABRSM exam, but they needn't be

Take your Aural Skills to the next level Click HERE

AURAL TESTS are possibly one of the most feared parts of an ABRSM exam, but they needn't be. With good preparation you can be confident of getting a good mark in this section of the exam.


It is interesting in the marking criteria for the ABRSM Aural section of the exam that a distinction is given for confident responses whereas you'll get between 12 to 14 marks for cautious responses even if you answer mostly correctly. So sound like you believe in your answer and respond without hesitation, even if you are not sure in yourself.


Secondly it is worth noting that it is always worth having a go. You'll get 6-8 marks just for having a go. Zero is only awarded if you don't even try. This rather strangely means that 1-5 marks don't exist.

The examiner should adapt to your vocal range and you could even hum or whistle the responses to the sung parts of the test if you prefer. However, singing is probably more suitable to most. When it comes to singing, I find many of my students are simply shy especially if the range goes a little high - practice at home just singing simple phrases increasing the pitch range of these gradually. I would recommend starting any note with a consonant sound such as lah, dah or tah. It gives the note a definite beginning and so is more likely to be in tune. Support your note with your diaphragm, that is the muscle you feel contracting when you cough - feel this muscle contracting as you sing, maybe placing your hand below your belly button at first to help sense this support. It will give you more confidence on the day and if confidence is your problem, practice doing this in front of other people to eliminate your embarrassment.


Finally be prepared, know what to expect - the tests follow a very precise formula. If you know what the question will be even before it is asked, this will help you feel more prepared. For example the C test in grade 5 aural asks you first about general musical features - however the same music will be used to ask later on, that time signature the piece is in. By the time this question is asked, it will be the third time you've heard this piece and you could be thinking about the time signature even on the very first playing.

To help you feel even more confident, I have prepared a training course  to help develop your Aural skills called “E - Aural Trainer” 
Click HERE to find out more and take your Aural Skills to the next level.


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Updated 06/12/2018




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