What the Different AMEB Grades Mean

What is the AMEB?

The Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) is a national organisation that provides examinations in music and speech in Australia. AMEB also offers assessments, professional development courses and publications for teachers.


AMEB was established in 1887 and is the oldest music examination board in Australia. AMEB exams are recognised by tertiary institutions and employers both within Australia and internationally.


There are eight different grades of AMEB exams, each with its own set of requirements. The eighth grades are Preliminary, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6 and Diploma.



Preliminary is the first level of examination offered by AMEB. At this level, students are expected to have a basic understanding of music theory and be able to sight-read simple melodies. The Preliminary grade is divided into two sub-grades: Preliminary A and Preliminary B.


Preliminary A is the easier of the two sub-grades and is typically taken by students who are just starting out their musical journey. In this subgrade, students will be tested on their ability to read simple melodies and rhythms. They will also be required to answer basic music theory questions.


Grade 1: the basics

Grade 1 is the starting point for learning piano. Students will learn basic keyboard skills, notation, and simple rhythms. They will also develop an understanding of music theory concepts such as pitch and dynamics. By the end of Grade 1, students will be able to play simple pieces with both hands independently.


Grade 2: slightly more challenging

Grade 2 builds on the skills learned in Grade 1. Students will learn more complex rhythms and develop their sight-reading skills. They will also learn about minor keys and begin to understand more advanced music theory concepts. By the end of Grade 2, students should be able to play pieces with greater confidence and fluency.


Grade 3: starting to get difficult

As students move up through the grades, the pieces they are required to play become increasingly difficult. By Grade 3, many students are finding the going quite tough. The pieces in this grade are designed to challenge students' technique and musicality and push them to their limits. If your child is struggling with Grade 3, it is important to seek out help from a teacher or tutor who can give them the guidance they need to get through it.


Grade 4: becoming a pro

In grade 4, students are becoming serious about their music and working towards becoming a professional. They are refining their technique and expanding their repertoire. They may be performing in public more often and taking on more difficult pieces. Grade 4 students are also expected to have a good understanding of music theory.


Grade 5: the hardest grade

Grade 5 is the hardest grade, as it requires the most amount of work and dedication. This grade is aimed at those who wish to pursue music as a career, and as such, is the most important grade. If you're looking to take your music career seriously, then Grade 5 is the grade for you.


Grade 6

To achieve a Grade 6, a student must be able to play pieces of music that are significantly more difficult than those required for lower grades. They must also be able to sight-read music and improvise. Achieving a Grade 6 is a significant accomplishment, and indicates that the student has a high level of musical ability.



A Diploma is the highest level of examination offered by the AMEB. Achieving a Diploma signifies that the student has attained a standard of excellence in their chosen instrument or voice and is a benchmark of their technical and musical ability.


To be eligible to take a Diploma, candidates must first pass an Associate Diploma (or equivalent) in their chosen discipline. The Associate Diploma is a performance-based test that assesses the candidate's technical ability and musical understanding.


The Diploma itself is comprised of two parts: Part 1 is an exam consisting of written theory papers, while Part 2 is an oral examination. Candidates are required to demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge of music through performance, sight-reading and aural tests.


Why grades are important

It is important to know the different AMEB grades because it helps set expectations for students and parents. Depending on the grade, teachers can better understand what level a student is at and how much progress they should be making. For parents, it provides guidance on what activities or lessons their child should be doing to improve.


Ultimately, grades provide a way to measure progress and achievement. They may not always reflect a student’s true capabilities, but they offer a snapshot of where a student is at in their learning journey. Grades can motivate students to work harder and give them something tangible to aim for. They also help educators identify areas of improvement for individual students or groups of students.


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