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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Just Read BJCP Study Guide - my thoughts
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:13 PM   #11
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@ ChicagoBrew. seems your mailbox is full so couldn't message you.
You mentioned having some advice for someone interested in taking the exam. I had begun to look over some of the info on BJCP website and then my wife got stationed at Hill AFB so I put it on the back burner for awhile. Now settled and interested in doing some studying and curious what kind of suggestions you might have to help score well. Have you gotten your results back yet? how much study time do you think you had to put in?
Thanks


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Old 11-11-2012, 03:37 AM   #12
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I am going to tell you right now that much of the exam discussion in this thread no longer applies to the BJCP exam as it stands today. The exam was revised around the beginning of April (maybe March?) of this year, so that now the written portion is an online multiple-choice exam with something like 300 questions. I took the beta version right before it was officially released several months back, so some of the details are fuzzy at this point. Granted, you are still time-restricted due to the number of questions you have to answer in a relatively short time, but I don't think the online exam is as tough as the essay version was in terms of time management.

The most important thing to doing well on the written portion is knowing the styles extremely well. I mean, everything about them. Know the typical OGs/FGs/ABVs/IBUs, etc. Know which beers are malty, roasty, etc. Know in which beers astringency is OK, and how much astringency is OK in those beers. Basically, you should be able to recall the appropriate characteristics for aroma, appearance, flavor, and mouthfeel for every beer in the style guidelines, and correlate them to one another in a way that lets you understand the relationships and differences between various beer styles.

The other portions of the written exam that you'll need to be up-to-speed on are the technical questions (e.g. on the classic written exam, the questions are stuff like, "describe the malting process, what different types of malt exist and their characteristics, which beer styles each malt is appropriate to, etc." There are details on that stuff in the exam study guide. The other set of questions are related to troubleshooting. e.g. if your beer tastes like cardboard, what does that indicate in the beer? How can the brewer fix this problem? That kind of stuff.

For the tasting portion, which is now 6 beers that you have to judge instead of 4, you should be going out and judging competitions as a novice judge to gain appropriate experience. Find the highest-ranking judges at your table and read their scoresheets after the flight, and ask questions after each beer to help gain a better understanding of what they are tasting/smelling and what that means for the beer and for the style. Print out a bunch of scoresheets at home, and write at least one scoresheet every day when you pop open a beer, keeping a mind towards being succinct yet conveying as much useful (to the brewer) information as possible in a short amount of time. TIME YOURSELF with a stopwatch or similar.

Make sure you are filling out complete scoresheets in fewer than 10 minutes. In the "Overall Impression" section, make sure that you provide both positive feedback and suggest AT LEAST one way to improve the beer for any score less than 50, regardless of good or bad the beer is. If you write "this is an excellent beer" then be sure that the score matches the language you use and the scoring guidelines at the bottom. e.g. for "excellent" the total score ought to be between 38 and 44. Make sure you check the appropriate boxes for any flavors/aromas you identify in the beer. Make sure you check the appropriate boxes for stylistic & technical accuracy, as well as intangibles, and again these should align with your written feedback on the scoresheet.


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Old 11-11-2012, 09:02 PM   #13
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I see that the entrance exam is now 200 questions in 60 minutes...Even though they are T/F and multiple choice I think you really need to know your stuff because you're not going to have much time to think about it.
For the tasting exam, it looks like you really have to plan in advance and probably have to travel to get to one. I see there are only about 7 exams held a month and that's worldwide. Now I'm in Utah and I don't see any dates scheduled for this state, is there someone to talk to about trying to getting a tasting exam scheduled for Utah?
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:22 PM   #14
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According to the BJCP database, there are a total of 8 BJCP judges in the entire state...the other issue is that the exam schedule is filled up until at least 2014, even if you can find someone in Utah willing to proctor a BJCP exam. Assuming you'd like to get into a tasting exam before that, you'd be better off contacting the organizers in other nearby states for upcoming exams.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:37 PM   #15
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Maybe take the test first before you talk about how easy it is? And a lot of competitions are short on judges period, much less highly qualified ones. In a perfect world professional well paid judges would travel the country working local homebrew club competitions, but in reality it takes a lot of work and volunteers to pull it off, and without competitions you'de get no feedback at all except for your friends and family pumping your tires.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:54 PM   #16
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I just did the tasting portion on Saturday. It is very challenging, but fun. I took the qualification exam (on line) earlier this week. 200 questions in 60 minutes is hard no latter what the subject.

I took the "better beer scores" course earlier this year. I think that was a big help as it forced me to study a wide range of topics. It was also enjoyable and interesting (so I recommend it even I you are just curious about beer).

Two other things helped me:
1. Brewing a wide range of beers and
2. Drinking a wide range of commercially available examples.

Do both while reading the style guide and the score sheet samples that are on the BJCP website (by Gordon strong). Drink your beer while reading this stuff. Always.

Finally, get your head around this concept:
Some of the samples are just the wrong beer or heavily doctored. You will be tempted to LOL when confronted with these samples.

Like I said, challenging but fun!
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:57 AM   #17
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Sounds like the same exact problem my bro & I ran into with the civil service exam. & that was late 70's-early 80's When we were all laid off for long periods. Too much test & too little time. As if they're looking for people that already have all the experience needed for the job. Narrows things down too much imo.
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
Sounds like the same exact problem my bro & I ran into with the civil service exam. & that was late 70's-early 80's When we were all laid off for long periods. Too much test & too little time. As if they're looking for people that already have all the experience needed for the job. Narrows things down too much imo.
The entrance exam (online) isn't that difficult. You do need to study for it although much of the material should be familiar to you, especially if you spend time reading the various threads on HBT. Where it was difficult was in the specific style questions - I would really recommend reviewing these and having them on hand during the test.

I also took the tasting exam this past Saturday. Seatbelt, were you at the exam at Triangle Wine? I thought the tasting exam was a lot of fun but that is definitely something that you need to practice. I found out a seat was open last Monday and had to scramble to practice tasting beers and filling out score sheets. I purchased a bunch of "classic" examples, tasted them, and filled out score sheets and that did help, however several of the beers on the taste were sub-par. It was a lot of fun to try to identify those funky flavors and diagnose what went wrong. I'm second guessing myself on a couple beers on the exam but it will be months before I found out how I scored. I'm hoping for at least recognized and would be thrilled for certified.
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:58 PM   #19
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The BJCP guidelines are great for creating recipes to style. But the guidelines are not good for people who like to make unconventional beers.

I personally think the BJCP and Cicerone system is more of business making machine than an information service. One can obtain BJCP and Cicerone knowledge easily by reading on-line about beers.

Also the Beer Hunter articles are an excellent source of history. I think I would recommend investing in a copy of The Practical Brewer. It's a great book that is truly a condensed beer production manual. You'll learn more in the book than you would wasting time with the BJCP.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:33 PM   #20
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"Hello, non-sequitur! How are you today?"

"Elephant!"




That being said, I do take umbrage with this particular bit:

Quote:
I personally think the BJCP and Cicerone system is more of business making machine than an information service
Yes, those greedy BJCP volunteers, doing it all for the "business".


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