Listening & Appraising


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At the end of year 11 students sit a listening exam. Simply put, the listening exam is a paper based exam in which students listen to extracts of music that they have studied. They answer questions on those extracts.

This exam accounts for 40% of the total qualification. The remaining 60% comes down to students' coursework which you can find out more about here. The exam is marked out of 80. The listening exam is up to 1 hour 30 minutes long and contains four types of question, as set out below.


These are usually multiple choice, tick-a-box, circle your answer, one word (e.g. give one feature/name an instrument/name a composer or artist etc) or multiple point answers (e.g. give three features/name two instruments/compare the tempo of both etc). General knowledge questions make up the bulk of the listening paper and can be considered the easiest type of question in the paper.

You can find these questions here

Each exam will contain only one extended writing question. This is a question usually worth 8-9 marks which is approximately 10% of the entire exam. Students are asked to write an extended paragraph - one A4 page - describing an extract of music.

Sometimes the question is linked to a theme and students must link their descriptive writing to that theme. For example 'this extract describes the movement of hens and chickens'. With this particular example students' responses must relate to how the music successfully represents the movement of the hens and chickens. This is the ONLY question in the listening exam where the quality of students' responses are also assessed.

You can find these questions here

There are other sub-questions elsewhere in the listening exam in which spelling, punctuation and grammar is also marked but these are typically worth much less, in total only 4-6 marks out of the whole paper.

Each exam will only contain one comparison question. The comparison question is typically worth anywhere between 12-16 marks.

This type of question involves students listening to two extracts and answering questions in which they are comparing the two extracts, both similarities and differences. Sometimes the comparison question will contain a short extended writing style question, like you will have read about above. However, the extended writing portion will never be as substantial as the actual extended writing question itself and will be worth considerably less marks.

You can find these questions here

Each exam will only contain one notation/dictation question. This type of question is worth 12-16 marks, occasionally more.

The notation/dictation question involves students studying a printed score (notated extract of music using traditional staff notation) and answering questions related to the score. This question involves students filling in missing notes in one or two bars of music, which itself is a sub-question worth 6 to 8 marks. The other sub-questions are general knowledge questions.

You can find these questions here

The styles of music that students are tested on in the listening exam come from four Areas Of Study. These are:

  • The Concerto Through Time - key styles from the baroque, classical and romantic eras along with key musical features

  • Rhythms of the World - several styles from India, Africa, the Caribbean and The Middle East

  • Film Music - including a brief introduction to video game music

  • Conventions of Pop - namely rock n' roll and 12 bar blues, pop ballads, rock anthems, solo artists and use of technology in music

Almost all of the relevant content for the listening exam is covered in these Areas Of Study. Knowing the styles covered across the four areas is the single most important thing students can do to prepare.

All of the content that students need to know can be found in the CGP GCSE Music OCR Complete Revision & Practice book. It is commonly referred to as the CGP Study Guide for this website. We use this textbook for most of the listening exam preparation on the course.

The book is available for free on this site here, separated into each section.

Preparing for the listening exam involves a combination of methods. Many students will have their own ways of revising. However, we use FIVE main sources for our revision which are all linked below. They're all good for lots of different things.

Click the title above or here for additional detailed tips and advice on revising for the listening exam

All the styles that students need to know

In the contents page of the CGP study guide students can see how many styles they need to know. However, to make life easier here are all the styles that students need to know about.

The baroque style

Baroque solo concerto

Baroque concerto grosso

Classical structures - concerto, symphony, sonatas AND sonata form, overture, rondo form, minuet & trio

Indian classical music (Raga)


Greek music

Palestinian music

Israeli music

African music (mainly drumming)



Film music, including classical music in films, video game music

Conventions of pop - blues, rock 'n' roll, rock anthems, pop ballads

There are 5 main sources of revision and preparation that we focus on when preparing for the listening paper. Just these 5 sources alone are all you need (and more than enough) to be successful in the listening paper. See the 5 sources below.

Great for learning key terms and technical language in various interactive ways such as through games, matching tasks and quick tests. Good for - key terms, technical language, quick and basic learning of topics/areas of study/styles.

Click the title above or here to go directly to the Quizlet page for Wrotham GCSE music students

Contains ALL OF THE CONTENT students need to know for the listening exam. Perhaps the most important resource we use in lessons and for students' homework. If students simply read and study this book from start to finish they will technically be able to ace the exam. Good for - topic revision, self testing, advice on exam

Click here to go directly to the product page where you can purchase the actual book

Just as good as the CGP guide but not as easy to read and there are 3 books to this whole series - and you need them all. That makes it a little more confusing for some students as opposed to the CGP guide which is ONE book. Plus....all three books in this guide are much more expensive. Good for - topic revision, self testing, advice on exam

Click the title above or here to go directly to the product page

This has been created by me for you, the students. It's a relatively small booklet that contains all of the information we cover using all the resources above, in one booklet. That does not mean students can rely on this one book. It does mean that if students need to know how to study for one particular element of the listening exam then this book will point them to the right place, website, book, resource or guide. Good for - advising on HOW to revise, pointing students in the right direction, checking that students are aware of what they need to know for the exam

Click the title above or here to go directly to the booklet page

Nothing like the real thing. These are real exam questions and papers (or at the very worst, sample questions and papers) which are as close to the types of questions students will get in their final exam. This is last on our list of five main sources for a reason - practice material serves as the perfect test after sifting through all the above. However, students can use them whenever they wish. When students find themselves struggling then they can use any of the resources above to find the relevant information. Good for - testing, finding areas of weakness, understanding how exam questions work

Click the title above or here to go directly to the practice questions & practice papers page

Click the title above or here to be taken to examples of GCSE coursework and listening exam responses

Reducing and consolidating content is a method we regularly use in music theory. There are hundreds of pages for all the topics we cover via the CGP study guide alone and learning to reduce that content is crucial to students understanding the topics and being able to use their reduced notes to revise from. Click here or the banner above to find out about how to reduce content (consolidate content) from the CGP study guide.