Music Scholarships: What is the Musical Aptitude Test (MAT)?

Musical Aptitude Test - Specimen test paper (answer sheet)

MAT – Specimen paper answer sheet

We have created a target set of training materials for the Music Aptitude Test in conjunction with music technology experts. These sample tests are created in line with the MAT syllabus and will help you prepare for the test. Our test materials  Blank test sheets and answers are available to download on our dedicated Music Aptitude Test web site. 4 samples tests cost £15. Use our Christmas discount code xmasfiver for an additional £5 discount until 26th of December.

Music Aptitude Test Training

Many students applying for secondary schools on a music scholarship will be required to take a Musical Aptitude Test (MAT). This is usually a multiple choice test with 60 questions designing to test a candidate’s sense of musicality. For state schools that use the MAT, very often (but not always) the test is sat in a room full of students and it is a listening exercise. Scroll down to the end to see the variety of MAT often found at private schools.

The group MAT assesses your understanding of Pitch, Melody, Texture and Rhythm. Generally, I find that candidates that score highly in aural and sight-reading tests in their exams find these questions relatively easy as they have a good understanding of the following subjects:


Higher or Lower?
This part of the test asks you to listen to two sounds.  You have to decide if the second note is higher or lower than the first or the same. Ask yourself if the second note is rising (higher) or falling (lower) or staying the same.

If a student is able to sing back a short melody or play it back on their instrument, this will stand them in good stead for the Melody questions. You can help your child at home by playing their favourite songs and asking them to sing back different sections of the songs to you, just using one syllable such as “la” instead of the words.

The Melody questions will play you one extract of 5 notes in length. The second version may or may not be different and you will be tested on whether you can hear the difference in a melody line by selecting the number of the note that is different.

The Aptitude Tests play a chord and ask you to identify how many notes you can hear. A chord is two or more notes. In the tests, they will ask you to differentiate between 2, 3 or 4 notes being played at once. The more notes are in the chord, the more dense the sound appears. Here is one of our students trying out Section 3 of the Music Aptitude Test which is available from our MAT Training Web site.

Sense of rhythm can be developed by plenty of clapping exercises. You can help your child at home with this by playing their favourite songs to them, then asking them to clap back short sections of the song to you. Once they have mastered familiar songs, then present unknown songs to them to see how they cope with unfamiliar rhythms.

Individual MAT
This is usually conducted one-on-one with the assessor at the piano.

Common questions that can be asked are:

  1. Listen to a scale played on the piano and sing it back
  2. Clap back a series of rhythms as an echo
  3. Listen to a chord and isolate one of the notes and sing it back, i.e. in a 3-note chord, sing the middle note, or in a two-note chord, sing the highest. This is a difficult exercise and may be given to choristers, not instrumentalists.
  4. Listen to a note played on the piano and sing it back
  5. Listen to a tune and then sing it back
  6. Sing at sight from a score whilst accompanied on the piano
  7. Play a piece of pre-prepared music, either prepared a few days in advance, or on the day

Read more online:

Online Music Aptitude Tests
Coping with stage fright

As well as using the online Music Aptitude Training Tests, there are some great CDs and DVDs available to help you practice your ear training. Here’s a selection of useful resources:

Harmonic Ear Training (DVD)

An excellent workshop from the assistant chair of the Ear Training Department at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, this DVD is a vital intro to the topic for songwriters and performers looking to improve their listening skills and become better musicians.

You’ll learn to:
*Recognise chord progressions quickly and confidently.
*Incorporate them into your writing and performing.
*Listen to music more analytically.
*Apply this knowledge to all of your projects.

Musician’s Institute Essential Concepts – Ear Training

The Complete Guide for All Musicians. This book and double CD pack takes you step by step through MI’s well-known Ear Training course. Complete lessons and analysis include: basic pitch matching · singing major and minor scales · identifying intervals · transcribing melodies and rhythm · identifying chords and progressions · seventh chords and the blues · modal interchange, chromaticism, modulation · and more! Learn to hear and to visualize on your instrument. Take your playing from good to great! Over 2 hours of practice exercises – with complete answers in the back.

400 Aural Training Exercises From The Masters

400 Aural Training Exercises From The Masters
This is a great resource for students that pass the MAT and are selected for the second stage as very often you will be asked aural tests that are singing and clapping-based.

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About Lorraine Liyanage

The SE22 Piano School is a busy piano school based in the heart of East Dulwich. We teach children from ages 5 and adults as well. We offer lessons in classical, jazz, improvisation, harpsichord and music theory. We are open six days a week and there are five teachers working here: Lorraine Liyanage, Rachel Bishop, Peter Gosling, Vatche Jambazian and Claire Harris.
This entry was posted in Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Aural & Ear Training for Pianists, Musical Aptitude Tests and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Music Scholarships: What is the Musical Aptitude Test (MAT)?

  1. Pingback: BACK TO SCHOOL BLOG: Music Scholarship Auditions – Hints and tips on helping you achieve success at your audition. | SE22 Piano School

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  7. Pingback: Music Aptitude Test (MAT) Workshop: Helping you prepare for the listening test | SE22 Piano School

  8. Tracey says:

    What formats are the aptitude music tests which i can download apart from mp3.

  9. Alisa says:

    Hello there! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have here on this post.

    I am coming back to your site for more soon.

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