Originally Posted by avaserfi
From those who have successfully completed the exam any pointers? This looks like a fun experience.
The key to success in this exam is REALLY understanding the various beer styles, as defined by the BJCP guidelines. The biggest component of the exam will be style related questions. The technical (brewing) side is surprisingly small.
It's tough, grueling work, but you need to drink every good example of each style that you can lay your hands on. If you want to pass this exam, you need to drink and evaluate a lot of beer!
It is also important to understand the origins, brewing techniques, cultural influences, ingredients, brewer's intent, etc. for each of these styles. If you do the tasting with the book-work, it makes it a lot more fun.
Part of the exam (30% of the grade) is to actually taste and evaluate four different beers. This is the more difficult part to learn on your own. It helps if you know other judges who can drink some different beers with you and coach you through what you are tasting, what is good, what is bad, etc. (Again, I know, tough work -- now you have to drink with other people, too!). Seriously, this is the primary function of a beer judge, and you are scrutinized at how well you can do it (you are actually graded according to how closely your evaluation matches the evaluations of two seasoned judges called proctors).
Anyways, there is a LOT of work to study for the exam, but if you can do it in groups it is probably a lot easier and more fun. Doing it on your own is certainly possible, though. Either way, it is a great excuse to 'research' beer.