Bishop’s Stortford High: Musical Aptitude Test

Nb. We are awaiting dates for 2025 admissions. Please see the school web site for latest information.

Have you got a burning question about the Music Scholarship process? Ask us anything about the Music Aptitude Test and Music Scholarship process for secondary schools here:

Music Scholarship Preparation at the SE22 Piano School

London Year 6 students: The Bishop Stortford’s High School Music Aptitude Test takes place on Saturday 7 October 2023.

You can download and practice the specimen Aural Tests online so that you know what kind of tests to expect. See more about the tests here.

1-to-1 Music Aptitude Test tutoring lessons on Zoom.

Download Training Test materials

About the Music Aptitude Test (Round One)

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. Some of the pitches are less than a semitone apart. 20 questions.

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.
10 questions.

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.
20 questions.

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.
10 questions.

Specialist Music Aptitude Test Tutoring with the SE22 Piano School Music Scholarship team

How to succeed at the Music Aptitude Tests (2025 state secondary school entry)

Music Scholarship Specialist Tutor’s Advice for Succeeding at the Music Aptitude Test for UK Secondary School Admissions

How to succeed at the Music Aptitude Tests (2023 state secondary school entry)

How To Succeed at the Music Aptitude Test
Prepare in advance and make sure that you are familiar with the style of tests that you will hear on the day. Try not to leave it until September to start researching the Music Aptitude Test. The school holidays are the perfect time to practise for the test and make sure your Round 2 audition is ready to go too!

It’s that time of year when we are just a few weeks away from the start of the Music Aptitude Test season. Some schools such as Claremont High School Academy and Ashmole Academy hold their MAT test earlier than most schools and this takes place in June.

Music Aptitude Test tutoring with the SE22 Piano School specialist tutors

Many students want to know how to pass the MAT test. This is a selective test that secondary state schools use to select a number of students each year, often bypassing the catchment requirements, hence the popularity of it amongst Year 6 students. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to secure a space at your desired local secondary school and living within the catchment area is not always possible due to the steep increase in house prices near schools rated Outstanding by OFSTED.

Most schools operate a 2-part Music Scholarship system. Without passing the MAT you will not be able to progress to the audition stage so it’s very important to put the time in to prepare thoroughly for the Music Aptitude Test so that you can have the chance to perform for the scholarship panel. This is often on a separate date but some schools will put the two sessions on the same day.

Here is a video from our head teacher with information about the 1-to-1 sessions including whether you need to prepare and what the lesson includes: 

We offer 1-to-1 Music Scholarship and Aptitude Test training on Zoom for students hoping to gain entry to a UK secondary school using the Music Aptitude Test criteria. We can prepare you for ANY school as they all use a very similar test or variant on a standard set of questions.

11+ tutoring Music Aptitude Test
1-to-1 Music Aptitude Test tutoring

All sessions can now be booked online and new dates are added frequently. If you do not see a date you require then please save this link and check back regularly.

Here is a sample of what we cover in the lesson. Each lesson is tailored to your individual needs and we will discuss at the start of the lesson your requirements.

I have been preparing my own students for over 12 years for Music Aptitude Test and scholarship entry to state secondary schools. Through the grapevine, other students from UK schools found out that I have produced training test materials for my students and they enquired about purchasing these, and also about having individual or group MAT training sessions. This led to me offering the tests for sale and also inviting students from any area to attend my monthly Aptitude Test sessions. It gives me great pleasure to receive so much feedback from students that have successfully passed the MAT and many continue to succeed at the audition stage. I am available to prep students for both test and audition. Do make sure you engage your music tutor in the process too as they can follow the plan of action we come up with at the workshops to ensure you are ready for the tests that take place in Autumn.

In addition to preparing many music students over the years, I’ll be thinking about whether to send my daughter to a school on a scholarship place if she’s keen to pursue music at secondary school and she now enters Year 5 and we start looking around local schools in South London. Many of our local schools such as Prendergast, Haberdashers, Norwood and Kingsdale offer music scholarships. Kingsdale also offer sports scholarships.

Here are a few things to consider when preparing your child for the Music Aptitude Test.

  1. Have we left enough time to prepare for the test? Even though the schools say no musical knowledge is required, the tests are quite unusual and it’s worth trying these at least a few weeks in advance but ideally 3 months ahead of the test date. Trying out the tests a few days before the MAT often causes panic and is not best advised!
  2. What is the criteria for your chosen school? Each school has a slightly different MAT test and they often change it each year. As we, the teachers, are unable to sit these tests, we rely on the written guidelines and feedback from students that have sat the test to produce training test materials that will help familiarise you with the style of tests. These tests are not exactly the same and we tweak them to fit the feedback we receive from our students.
  3. What pieces will you perform? We don’t recommend performing pieces from the exam syllabus. Try and think outside the box and pick some pieces that will make a memorable performance. You want to stand out on audition day and you also need to make sure your pieces are known fluently and have been performed many times under pressure – either at home to an audience of friends and neighbours; at school assembly to a larger audience or in a competitive event. Everyone gets nervous so it’s important to have performed your audition pieces under pressure several times so that you know you can beat the nerves!

Which schools use the Music Aptitude Test? This list is not exhaustive and is subject to change so please check your prospectus for current information.

  • Abraham Darby Academy
  • Ada Lovelace School
  • Ashmole Academy
  • Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School
  • Bristol Cathedral Choir School
  • Bushey Meads School
  • Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
  • Chancellor’s School
  • Chelsea Academy
  • Claremont His School Academy
  • Clement Danes
  • Cooper’s Company and Coburn School
  • Croxley Danes
  • Dame Alice Owen’s
  • Ealing Fields High School
  • Enfield Grammar
  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s / Prendergast Hilly Fields / Crayford Academy
  • Hertfordshire & Essex High School
  • Highgate School
  • Langley Grammar School
  • Lorraine’s SE22 Piano School
  • Leventhorpe / The Bishop’s Stortford High School / The
  • Mill Hill County High School
  • Old Swinford Hospital
  • Parmiter’s School
  • Queens’ School (Bushey)
  • Rickmansworth School
  • South West Herts School consortium
  • St Anne’s Catholic School, Southampton
  • St Clement Danes
  • St Mary’s & St John’s CE School
  • St Marylebone Church of England School
  • St Paul’s Way Trust School
  • The Hertfordshire & Essex High School and Science College
  • Twyford Church of England School
  • Uxbridge High School
  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • Watford Grammar School for Girls

We also have free videos to help you with the tricky bits of the test such as the Texture section:

Music Aptitude Test training

The Music Aptitude Test: How To Help Your Child Succeed

Helping you prepare for the Music Aptitude Tests and scholarships

As a private music teacher, it is my role each year to guide many students through the State Secondary Music Scholarship process. This is very different to the private school music scholarship system and uses a test called the Music Aptitude Test (MAT) as part of the selection criteria for most UK schools. The MAT is is designed to look for inherent musicality in a student. The test is designed to determine the listening skills and the ability to discern detail in pitch, texture, and rhythm.

However there is no standard MAT test used across the board and each school will use their own variety of test. Some schools include graphic scores to represent volume and tempo changes. Other schools use a variety of instruments and ask you how many different ones you can hear. Some schools will vary the test each year and not all will publish guidelines on what you will hear on the day. These variables mean that preparing for the test without the guidance of a teacher that is familiar with the MAT is a challenge. 

Luckily there are many good resources available and more teachers are becoming familiar with the scholarship system. It is entirely possible to prepare for a Music Aptitude Test if you know what to practice and allow enough time to prepare. Preparing last-minute can often lead a student to feel stressed about the test so we advise leaving at least half a term in advance to prepare before the tests in the Autumn term.

The Format of the Music Aptitude Test

Many schools use a two-round system for the State Secondary Music Scholarship process. Round One is in the form of a listening or aural test called the Music Aptitude Test. Some schools may listen to you perform an instrument or sing on the same day, but the majority of schools will mark the tests and then only call you back to audition if you attain a certain score on the test. The pass-mark is often determined by selecting a certain top percentage to return but I have noticed that some schools invite back anyone scoring higher than 46 out of 60 on the Standard MAT test.

I mentioned above that the test measures listening skills. It is very common for the test to measure the ability to discern detail in things like pitch, texture, and rhythm. The test format can be any of the following:

  1. A group of students sit in a room with an answer sheet in front of them and the test is played out loud
  2. The test is conducted individually with a music tutor who sits at a piano and plays and asks questions, similar to the Aural section of a graded music exam.

I have often been asked whether the student will sit at a computer with headphones and individually answer the test but as far as I am aware, no school uses this system. I presume the reason is that a high number of applicants are sitting the test and most schools wouldn’t have the resources to accommodate this. 

Whilst the contents of the test are kept secret, I do thoroughly question my students each year to find out as much information as possible about the test. I use this as a basis for training and helping my students feel confident on test day. With many students over a decade successfully gaining full scholarships, I am convinced that forward planning and preparation is the key to success with the Music Aptitude Test process.

What is the Music Aptitude Test?
What is the Music Aptitude Test?

What if you fail a Musical Aptitude Test?

If you fail a musical aptitude test it doesn’t mean you’re not musical. It often means that the test presented to you was unfamiliar and may have found you outside of your comfort zone. 

The good news is that even though schools are looking for inherent musical aptitude, it can be acquired so long as you know what to practice. By working with your teacher and using online materials, you’re going to become more aware of the types of questions that could come up which will help you feel a lot more confident going into the test.

The Format of the Music Aptitude Test

Many schools use a 4-part test consisting of up to 60 questions. The four parts are described below:


You will almost certainly be asked about pitch which is the vertical relationship between notes. For example, you will hear three notes played and you are asked which note is the highest. You select the first, second or third.


A short tune is played to you. It may then be played again but with a variation. You may be asked to identify a change in the melody by describing it or raising your hand when you hear the change, or answering whether the first tune was the same or different to the second tune. 


This is by far the trickiest section of the test even though it sounds quite simple. Most tests will you give you a chord containing 2, 3 or 4 notes and you have to identify how many different notes make up the overall texture. This is always the section that requires the most practice. If you only practice one section, make sure it’s this one!


Similar to the melody section, you will hear a short tune played twice. There may be a change to identify or simply mark whether the second tune differed from the first. 

Additional Questions

Here is just a small selection of questions students have been asked:

  1. A note is played and the student is asked to sing it back. This is very easy to practise with your teacher. A variation of this would be singing back a short melody – very similar in style to the ABRSM graded exam aural tests.
  2. Clapping back a short rhythm

   3. Instrumental texture: How many instruments are playing, and can you name them? 

Very best of luck to all the students sitting the Music Scholarship for this year’s state secondary admissions. For further reading, visit the dedicated MAT training web site. Individual lessons are also available.

1-to-1 Music Aptitude Test training

Watch a sample lesson with Mirna online:

Please note our Scholarship Specialist teachers are unable to offer phone or email consultations or support but we will answer all your questions about the scholarship process in the 60 minute lesson.

And finally – please note that many parents contact us and ask us if we offer the exact test for download and can prepare them for the very same questions they will hear on the day of the test. The simple answer to this is no. Each school uses a different version of the MAT test and they change it each year. We offer sample training tests for online download that are very useful tools to help familiarise you with the style of tests you will hear on the day.

Music Aptitude Test tutoring with the SE22 Piano School specialist tutors