GCSE Music exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do


Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on GCSE Music

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on GCSE Music, direct from the people who make the exams.

AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline


  • Plan your revision to target the areas you’re less confident about first - but mix it up with the areas you’re stronger on.

Before the exam

  • Approach the exam calmly – try to be relaxed.
  • Prepare for all the different types of question on the exam paper, using past papers where possible.
  • Don’t start writing immediately. Make sure you’ve read through the introductory information on the front of the paper.

During the exam

  • Read each question carefully before answering.
  • Having read the question, look at how many marks have been allocated for the answer: if there’s only one mark, just give one answer. Similarly, if it asks for two or three, don’t give any more, as only your first two or three answers will be marked.
  • Don’t rush your answers – take your time.
  • Keep your writing as neat as possible.
  • In questions requiring a musical dictation response, be careful that you place notation accurately on the stave.
  • Move on if you get stuck.

Written exam: unfamiliar music

  • You can use one of the many online streaming services to practise listening to a range of unfamiliar music from all four areas of study. Many online streaming services have a ‘free’ option you can sign up to.
  • Make revision cards for the musical elements you need to know and understand.
  • Practise identifying musical elements as you listen to unfamiliar music from each area of study.
  • Make sure you understand how the different styles and genres of music were influenced by their context.

Written exam: study pieces

  • Make sure you spend time revising the study piece(s) from both Area of Study 1 and your other chosen area of study.
  • Revise your knowledge and understanding of the effect of audience, time and place on how the study pieces were created, developed and performed.
  • Make notes on how and why music across the selected areas of study has changed over time.
  • Listen carefully to the study pieces and map out how the composer’s purpose and intentions are reflected in their use of musical elements.

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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!