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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: alikocho on January 20, 2011, 01:41:55 PM

Title: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on January 20, 2011, 01:41:55 PM
I'm due to take my BJCP exam in just over a week's time, and I have a query about what is required in a full answer. The Study guide does not suggest that it is necessary to give vital statistics for styles, but I looked at Gordon Strong's presentation from a few years back that suggested that you do.  Which is it?
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bonjour on January 20, 2011, 02:23:31 PM
You do not NEED the numbers to answer the style questions, though they do help.
What is essential is to answer the question completely.
All style questions MUST describe the style, this includes
Aroma
Appearance
Flavor
Mouthfeel
Two of the possible questions are (paraphrased) Pick & describe (see the study guide for the wording) 3 different top fermenting styles that have a min OG of over 1.070/ 3 different top fermenting styles that have a Max OG of under 1.040.

Obviously you need to know the numbers well enough to pick the correct styles.


hope that helps some.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on January 20, 2011, 02:26:38 PM
You do not NEED the numbers to answer the style questions, though they do help.
What is essential is to answer the question completely.
All style questions MUST describe the style, this includes
Aroma
Appearance
Flavor
Mouthfeel
Two of the possible questions are (paraphrased) Pick & describe (see the study guide for the wording) 3 different top fermenting styles that have a min OG of over 1.070/ 3 different top fermenting styles that have a Max OG of under 1.040.

Obviously you need to know the numbers well enough to pick the correct styles.


hope that helps some.


Thanks for the response. I know the numbers well enough, but wondered if I actually needed them or not.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tumarkin on January 20, 2011, 02:40:44 PM
especially if you know the number, put them in. it can make a difference in your score - particularly if you're aiming at National or above. another issue is time management. as Fred said, it's crucial to answer the questions completely. that can require a lot of writing. including a chart in your answer with the statistics is a good way to show you know the details but can be quicker than writing that all out. a good friend gave masters level answers on the questions he completed, but didn't complete the exam because he ran out of time. still got a good score, but missed National by a point or two.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: phillamb168 on January 20, 2011, 02:42:02 PM
I'm due to take my BJCP exam in just over a week's time, and I have a query about what is required in a full answer. The Study guide does not suggest that it is necessary to give vital statistics for styles, but I looked at Gordon Strong's presentation from a few years back that suggested that you do.  Which is it?

Do they do the exams in London or elsewhere? I've been interested in trying to do this.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on January 20, 2011, 03:00:27 PM
I'm due to take my BJCP exam in just over a week's time, and I have a query about what is required in a full answer. The Study guide does not suggest that it is necessary to give vital statistics for styles, but I looked at Gordon Strong's presentation from a few years back that suggested that you do.  Which is it?

Do they do the exams in London or elsewhere? I've been interested in trying to do this.

The exam is going to be in London - it's the first BJCP exam in Europe. I expect there will be more, not least as if it only happens once, there won't be that many judges knocking around.

In answer to another post above, while achieving 80 would be great, at this stage I'd be happy just to pass the exam (which I hope I can do)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 20, 2011, 03:14:23 PM
Be sure you've practiced writing judging descriptions.  I made a certfied score on the questions, but ended up with "recognized" because of the weak judging.  Cover all your bases, and throw in plenty of specific descriptors.  My excuse is that I'd never entered, attended or judged a contest before.  I'm focusing now on getting some actual experience.  Though for me I kind of took the exam to see how much I actually knew about brewing.  It knocked me down a notch or two but you are in a better place to proceed when you know what you don't know.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: johnf on January 20, 2011, 03:28:06 PM
I got a 93 written without writing down the vital statistics on any of the style answers. If you know them I would write them down but I would say it's not a great place to spend a large amount of study time.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: richardt on January 20, 2011, 03:33:11 PM
Spouting Stats and making tables helps if you can recall the data.  They are quick ways to get the info across.

The most important thing is Time Management.  Nearly everyone runs out of time before they can write down all their answers.

If you want to do well, I suggest you practice limiting your written answers to no more than 125 words max.

Do not write 300 word or 400 word answers to questions.  You will run out of time.

There is no way to write down everything you know.

I can't wait until the format changes to a multiple choice format--it would test more of your knowledge areas and be easier to grade. 
Sensory training is important--think about how you would comment on each style characteristics from a sensory standpoint.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on January 20, 2011, 03:40:37 PM
Thanks for all the advice!

I can probably not recall vast amounts of data on spec, but I am happy that I can get descriptors down. Part of this is understanding how my own mind works (I'm a History Professor, so descriptive works better for me).
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: denny on January 20, 2011, 03:55:44 PM

Thanks for the response. I know the numbers well enough, but wondered if I actually needed them or not.

It's up to you.  The more info you provide, the better you'll do.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: dmtaylor on January 21, 2011, 10:13:33 PM
The most important thing is Time Management.  Nearly everyone runs out of time before they can write down all their answers.

If you want to do well, I suggest you practice limiting your written answers to no more than 125 words max.

Do not write 300 word or 400 word answers to questions.  You will run out of time.

^------ This!  ----^

Quote from: tom sawyer
I made a certfied score on the questions, but ended up with "recognized" because of the weak judging.  Cover all your bases, and throw in plenty of specific descriptors.  My excuse is that I'd never entered, attended or judged a contest before.  I'm focusing now on getting some actual experience.

Ditto.  I need to take just the tasting portion again to hit "certified" status.  I have the experience points, just need the higher tasting grade now.  I wish I'd had more experience filling out the judging form!
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: johnf on January 21, 2011, 10:50:48 PM
I am wrapping up grading my first set and, yes, time management is where most people go wrong (also not answering exactly what was asked).

My time management tip is to think of the exam in terms of points per minute. Out of 100 aggregate points each essay question is worth 7 (10 each but essay is weighted 70%) and each scoresheet 7.5. You have 180 minutes on the exam or 1.8 minutes per question. My suggestion then is to spend 12.6 minutes on each essay question and 13.5 minutes on each scoresheet. To simplify things you can just say 13 minutes per. You'll note that 13 per actually takes you to 182 minutes but you should be able to answer the first essay question very quickly making up those 2 minutes and leaving yourself a few minutes to double check at the end.

The temptation is to write forever if you get to a question you know a lot about, but there are no extra credit points and you will have a hard time scoring well if you have to skip a question or not write very much on it.

Wear a watch and when you start a question or score sheet write down the time 13 minutes in the future and stop writing and move on when you get to that time. Also within questions think about how you are spending your time. If you get the gypsum, finings, krausening question you will do much better with a brief few points on each than if you write a brilliant game changing essay on finings and ignore the other two parts. In this case I would recommend outline form and making all of the major points first leaving plenty of space between them and then go back and fill in the details. Paper is cheap and I would actually use a fresh sheet for each part of the question.

Practice questions under exam circumstances (maybe answer 5 questions in one hour) can help you with the mechanics of time management as well as getting a feel for what the pressure feels like and how fast you can write.

I know people will disagree with me on this but writing with a pen is much faster and much less fatiguing than pencil. I used a pen for the essay questions and a pencil for the scoresheets. If you write with a pen and make an error, just make a single clear strike-through and move on. Again, paper is cheap. Pen is also clearer to read when photocopied. For the pencil get heavier lead than normal so you can write a nice dark line even if this isn't your normal preference in pencils.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tom on January 21, 2011, 11:17:45 PM
And charts are perfectly acceptable rather than all prose.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bfogt on January 22, 2011, 02:28:39 PM
I was reading about a performance anxiety workshop at Julliard.  I know it sounds like it wouldn't apply here, but it just might help.  They teach that if you are going to feel nervous about something, practice is good, but practice under stress is better.  The only way to simulate the pressure you'd feel in the exam is to do something strenuous right before practice.  The example in the class was sending a pianist out to run up and down two flights of stairs twice and then return to the hall to play a piece. 

I'd also suggest having practice beers while practicing the written part.  Drinking under stress can have different effects than you would normally experience.  Maybe the graders have noticed some written slurring as they reach the last fifteen minutes of an exam.  Certainly on mine.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: CASK1 on January 24, 2011, 06:16:56 PM
As an exam grader, I would recommend using stats only if you're sure you know them WELL. 9+ points are possible without the numbers, but it's hard not to deduct points for numbers that are way off.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: foobrew on April 27, 2011, 10:42:13 PM
And charts are perfectly acceptable rather than all prose.

I'd think twice about that strategy. I answered all my compare/contrast questions with charts of the statistical data and only wrote a small paragraph of prose for each question. Both graders shredded me for it even though the numbers were all correct. The message was that the prose is far, far more important than regurgitating the numbers. So, personal experience was that charts are absolutely not acceptable in place of prose but are certainly welcome in addition to prose.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on April 28, 2011, 01:13:00 AM
Do not forget "distinguishing characteristics" when comparing 3 styles.  This is worth 2 of 10 points - history, fermentation technique, ingredients, serving method, etc.
 
I did what I thought were thorough grids with aroma/appearance/flavor/mouthfeel/commercial example/similarities/differences but for some reason when I made my grids at the start of the exam I forgot the line for distinguishing characteristics on two of the three "compare 3 styles" questions.  Gave away 4 points...

hopefully you won't get the water question. 

cheers--
--Michael   
 
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on April 28, 2011, 06:20:15 AM
Didn't get the water question, and I did use grids (with prose in them). I'm still waiting for the result three months on from taking the exam, so hopefully will know soon.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 08:30:26 AM
Didn't get the water question, and I did use grids (with prose in them). I'm still waiting for the result three months on from taking the exam, so hopefully will know soon.

Unfortunately, turnaround is about 5-6 months these days.

This thread is a bit stale, but I highly recommend that folks planning to take the BJCP exam in its current form check out Al Boyce's BJCP Exam for Dummies 2010 edition. (http://www.bjcp.org/docs/BJCPExamForDummies.pdf).

That, plus the guidelines, the Interim Study Guide and a good book on brewing (e.g., John Palmer's "How to Brew"), plus adequate exam prep, is guaranteed to give you a passing score.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: jeffy on May 08, 2011, 12:27:21 PM
Didn't get the water question, and I did use grids (with prose in them). I'm still waiting for the result three months on from taking the exam, so hopefully will know soon.

Unfortunately, turnaround is about 5-6 months these days.


I think it depends on the size of the group.  Our January Tampa tests were returned in 3 months.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on May 08, 2011, 02:57:46 PM
Didn't get the water question, and I did use grids (with prose in them). I'm still waiting for the result three months on from taking the exam, so hopefully will know soon.

Unfortunately, turnaround is about 5-6 months these days.


I think it depends on the size of the group.  Our January Tampa tests were returned in 3 months.

That's good to know. Our group was 8 people....still waiting after 3 1/2 months. Even if I have to wait longer for the full feedback, I'd like to know if I passed or not.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 09, 2011, 05:56:04 AM
I think it depends on the size of the group.  Our January Tampa tests were returned in 3 months.

I think it has more to do with the speed of the graders than the size of the group. Your group got lucky with some highly motivated graders.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: jeffy on May 09, 2011, 11:33:43 AM
I think it depends on the size of the group.  Our January Tampa tests were returned in 3 months.

I think it has more to do with the speed of the graders than the size of the group. Your group got lucky with some highly motivated graders.

Two partial retakers and 5 (was it 4?) full exams.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: alikocho on July 01, 2011, 06:27:20 AM
Thanks for all the help earlier in the year. I got my score this morning - 84  :)

Better than I'd thought I'd done, but proves that studying hard does pay off.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 01, 2011, 06:31:12 AM
Awesome Ali, congratulations!  Now you just need to get some points . . . :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: denny on July 01, 2011, 02:43:19 PM
Congrats!  84 is a great score!
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 01, 2011, 04:48:28 PM
Thanks for all the help earlier in the year. I got my score this morning - 84  :)

Better than I'd thought I'd done, but proves that studying hard does pay off.

Way to go!

A National level score is fantastic.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: gordonstrong on July 01, 2011, 06:59:04 PM
Congratulations and welcome.  Outstanding score on your first exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: chezteth on July 01, 2011, 11:14:54 PM
Congratulations on your score!  Something, definitely, to be proud of.  Welcome to the world of judging.   :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: jonathan of Better Beer Scores on July 04, 2011, 06:37:12 PM
I would suggest that you review  the study questions paying particular attention to how one earns various points for each question.  Make sure you spend the most time on the section of each question that will earn you the most ponts.  http://www.bjcp.org/study.php#quest

Also review Gordon Strong's "How to Master the BJCP Exam"    http://www.bjcp.org/docs/mastering.pdf

BJCP For Dummies, have several good suggestions as to how to answer a question 
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/BJCPExamForDummies.pdf

It will be impossible to put down all the sub style descriptions so when reviewing them pick out the main details.  A good guide is the look at a competition score sheet and answer the descriptive phrases that are shown under the Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel headings.  Use one to three descriptive words for each one. 

As mentioned, time is of the essence, so keep your answers short and to the point.  Do not use a lot of unessary filler words.

We have just started a school for homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts.  Our first course "Better Beer Scores" is specifically designed to assist in studying for the BJCP exam.  Please check out our web site for more information at www.beerjudgeeducation.com.  Cheers! 
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 04, 2011, 07:28:21 PM
After speaking with some graders, I would advise against using BJCP for Dummies.  It is about gaming the exam and you will not get the best score possible using the methods outlined.  If it is clear to the grader that you studied and actually know things you will do better than someone who appears to have studied a way to score well without knowing much.

I was unfamiliar with BJCP for Dummies when we had the conversation and was surprised to hear that it contained this advice:

Quote
18. HOW INGREDIENTS/PROCEDURES IMPACT THE STYLE?
Easy way: “The malt, hops, and yeast used in this recipe work together to produce the aroma,
appearance, flavor and mouthfeel representative of a __________ style.” If you’ve got LOTS of
time at the END of the test, come back to this part and elaborate more, if you know it."

This "easy way" will get you 0 out of 3.5 points if I am the grader.  Saying essentially "the ingredients used fit the style because they fit the style" doesn't display any knowledge at all.  I think it is terrible advice.

The purpose of the exam is to see how well you understand the various beer styles, not how well you understand the exam.  Answer to display knowledge, not tricks.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bonjour on July 04, 2011, 07:57:42 PM
After speaking with some graders, I would advise against using BJCP for Dummies.  It is about gaming the exam and you will not get the best score possible using the methods outlined.  If it is clear to the grader that you studied and actually know things you will do better than someone who appears to have studied a way to score well without knowing much.

I was unfamiliar with BJCP for Dummies when we had the conversation and was surprised to hear that it contained this advice:

Quote
18. HOW INGREDIENTS/PROCEDURES IMPACT THE STYLE?
Easy way: “The malt, hops, and yeast used in this recipe work together to produce the aroma,
appearance, flavor and mouthfeel representative of a __________ style.” If you’ve got LOTS of
time at the END of the test, come back to this part and elaborate more, if you know it."

This "easy way" will get you 0 out of 3.5 points if I am the grader.  Saying essentially "the ingredients used fit the style because they fit the style" doesn't display any knowledge at all.  I think it is terrible advice.

The purpose of the exam is to see how well you understand the various beer styles, not how well you understand the exam.  Answer to display knowledge, not tricks.
I might be generous and give up to 1 point, depending on what else in the answer shows that you KNOW what you are talking about.

The point of this question is to determine that you know the style well enough to give valid feedback on it.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on July 05, 2011, 01:19:55 PM
After speaking with some graders, I would advise against using BJCP for Dummies.  It is about gaming the exam and you will not get the best score possible using the methods outlined.  If it is clear to the grader that you studied and actually know things you will do better than someone who appears to have studied a way to score well without knowing much.

I was unfamiliar with BJCP for Dummies when we had the conversation and was surprised to hear that it contained this advice:

Quote
18. HOW INGREDIENTS/PROCEDURES IMPACT THE STYLE?
Easy way: “The malt, hops, and yeast used in this recipe work together to produce the aroma,
appearance, flavor and mouthfeel representative of a __________ style.” If you’ve got LOTS of
time at the END of the test, come back to this part and elaborate more, if you know it."

This "easy way" will get you 0 out of 3.5 points if I am the grader.  Saying essentially "the ingredients used fit the style because they fit the style" doesn't display any knowledge at all.  I think it is terrible advice.

The purpose of the exam is to see how well you understand the various beer styles, not how well you understand the exam.  Answer to display knowledge, not tricks.

Thanks.  Do you have any other examples of the Dummies guide trying to "game" the exam? 
My comment to that is it is a "dummies" guide.  I have several friends who got into the 60's with the help of Boyce's guide that wouldn't have made it otherwise.  If you're at 87 and looking to improve on a retake it really isn't for you.  But if you have trouble taking exams or formulating an answer out of the multitude of data out there or are on the edge of passing it can help.  As to the specific example you quoted, I don't know anyone who followed his example.  Everyone I spoke to said SOMETHING more about the aroma/appearance/flavor/mouthfeel of their recipe.  I really think a better way to say this would be "spend your time where you can get points."  Time is at a premium, and many people cannot even finish.  In that regard waxing poetic about a style and getting an extra half point or whatever and leaving an entire question blank doesn't make sense.  Using time wisely is certainly not gaming the exam.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 05, 2011, 01:43:14 PM
Most people don't answer the question and certainly do not pay attention to the maximum score potential even though it is stated on the exam. When I look at a question and see 6pts, 2pts, 1pt, 1pt, where would it be most beneficial to spend my time? OTOH, most people forget if they don't answer the question, they don't get any points at all, not even partial credit. So they should focus where they can maximize points and be sure to answer every section. A nice dissertation of hops is impressive until the examinee figures out they can only gloss over 3 questions. Time management is key.

As far as Al's document, it will become moot as soon as the new exam rolls out since that strategy will no longer be useful. When it happens, no one should be taking the written exam without the aspiration, preparation and knowledge to become a National or higher judge. I suspect at that time the prep classes and strategies for doing well will change substantially. Taste will become more important since it will require an 80+ on taste in order to even begin to think about taking the essay exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 05, 2011, 04:36:15 PM
I can't disagree with anything that Mike said.

I haven't read all of Dummies, like I said I hadn't heard of it before.  But . . .
Thanks.  Do you have any other examples of the Dummies guide trying to "game" the exam? 
The entire section on the recipe question reads like someone trying to game the exam.  Some examples:

Quote
Always 5% Alpha Acid (AA), regardless of what hops you choose (see box below)
If you write down that your centennials and chinooks have 5% alpha you're losing points.

Quote
Boil: ALWAYS: “75 minutes, full rolling boil to facilitate hot break, adding hops according to
schedule above.
There is nothing technically wrong with this answer, but is it really that hard for people to remember 90 minutes if you're using pilsner malt, otherwise 60 minutes?   That is a good rule of thumb for the exam (and real life brewing), and contains some actual brewing knowledge.

Using time wisely is certainly not gaming the exam.
No, it definitely isn't, that is a strategy that just makes sense.  I have no objection to that.  My objection comes when the strategy is "just write this" instead of actually learning something that isn't that hard.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bonjour on July 05, 2011, 04:44:13 PM

Quote
Always 5% Alpha Acid (AA), regardless of what hops you choose (see box below)
If you write down that your centennials and chinooks have 5% alpha you're losing points.
If I see that AND I see some actual calculation,  I'll give them that because they can handle ANY hop with an AA% especially if the AA% makes the math easier on the exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 05, 2011, 04:52:01 PM

Quote
Always 5% Alpha Acid (AA), regardless of what hops you choose (see box below)
If you write down that your centennials and chinooks have 5% alpha you're losing points.
If I see that AND I see some actual calculation,  I'll give them that because they can handle ANY hop with an AA% especially if the AA% makes the math easier on the exam.
I'm with you, except Dummies specifically says you don't need to know how to do the calculations, you just need to write down 25% utilization and 25 IBUs for one ounce.

And anyway, 5% is out of range for centennials and chinooks, so unless you write down that you are using old hops that have lost 50+% of their alpha acids . . .
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 05, 2011, 07:08:37 PM
On June 4th I wrote the exam that Fred administered.  The BJCP for Dummies was a help on how the test was laid out, and what to expect.  It helped in some areas, and in other areas there were some things I did not agree with.  Like saying that Steam beer is fermented with an ale yeast, and Koelsch with a lager yeast.  The part on why the ingredients were selected was a little lame when I read it, and I said more about the malt, yeast, hops and water.

Time management was the big issue.  That, and not having hand written anything for 3 hours in about 37 years.   >:(
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: dbeechum on July 05, 2011, 07:28:10 PM
That, and not having hand written anything for 3 hours in about 37 years.   >:(

Everyone underestimates that one!
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 05, 2011, 08:03:11 PM
That, and not having hand written anything for 3 hours in about 37 years.   >:(

Everyone underestimates that one!

I had been practicing, really, I had been writting a little more each day.  Got up to about 1.5 hours straight, should have gone for the full 3 hours.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 05, 2011, 08:19:40 PM
That, and not having hand written anything for 3 hours in about 37 years.   >:(

Everyone underestimates that one!

You can say that again.  ;)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 06, 2011, 12:35:53 AM
After speaking with some graders, I would advise against using BJCP for Dummies.  It is about gaming the exam and you will not get the best score possible using the methods outlined.

BJCP for Dummies is badly flawed in some ways, but it does have its points.

Useful mnemonics, advice on time management and discussion of areas of the test to concentrate on to get maximum points is hardly "gaming the exam." Just don't expect to use just BJCP for Dummies and the Style Guidelines and get a National or Master score.

  
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: johnf on July 06, 2011, 01:19:46 AM
I thought it was useful for some strategy type stuff. I came into the BJCP exam strong on general essay exam strategy but the suggestion of using a grid, for example, I found useful (I used them on style questions only).

On the other hand, I vehemently disagree with his suggestion to use a pencil (if you want to know why, take a block of text that takes you about 10 minutes to copy in handwriting, do it one day with a pencil and the next with a pen).

I took what was useful for me and discarded the rest, which is what anyone should do. I didn't try to use the provided answers as I was strong enough to produce better answers (as obviously is Al, it is a Dummies Guide).

FWIW, in my limited grading experience, I have frequently seen multiple candidates obviously attempting to use the same canned answer but they weren't in these cases from Al's guide. So I think we are picking on one example of what is happening everywhere.

As Mike says, moot point soon. Nobody gets National and Master scores by blindly adopting strategies and answers.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 02:46:57 AM
Useful mnemonics, advice on time management and discussion of areas of the test to concentrate on to get maximum points is hardly "gaming the exam."
I was pretty clear on what I thought was gaming the exam and what was not.  No where did I say mnemonics, time management, or maxing points was gaming the exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: micsager on July 06, 2011, 03:51:54 AM
I used to be bummed out that my sense of smell was damaged by some allergy medicine years ago, and thus I could never really be an effective BJCP judge.  After reading this thread, I'm quite happy.  (and also quite impressed with those that do go through the process for the rest of us.......)

Rock on guys.

Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 06, 2011, 07:36:53 AM
This "easy way" will get you 0 out of 3.5 points if I am the grader.  Saying essentially "the ingredients used fit the style because they fit the style" doesn't display any knowledge at all.  I think it is terrible advice.

But at least the exam-taker addressed that portion of the question, which a lot of people don't. And, depending on the grader, you might get partial credit, so it's worth a try if you don't have anything else to say or if you don't have time to write anything else. It's not the best advice in the world, but it's not utterly useless.

The all-grain recipe question is one of the toughest and most time-consuming questions on the exam. There are a lot of places where, even if you know your stuff, you can make mistakes. And, if you're doing it right, you have to write an entire short essay on how to brew a particular beer, complete with recipe from grain to glass, in 10-15 minutes.

BJCP for Dummies at least gets you in the ballpark in terms of how you should answer the question and the sort of information that graders want to see. No, the techniques in the guide aren't going to get you a 10 out of 10 on the question, but they might get you a 6-7 out of 10 when you otherwise would have gotten a 3-5.

While studying to take the exam for the third time (second time I had a sinus infection and a bunch of wrong-headed ideas on how to game the exam), I made heavy use of BJCP for Dummies when creating my own exam and pestered senior judges on the BJCP member forums about what constituted a good answer to the various questions on the exam. I'm not sure how I did, but I'm cautiously optimistic. I finished the exam with time to spare and I think I did well enough to get a National score.

Because my results are pending, I can't say for certain if my efforts paid off, but I think that BJCP for Dummies was a useful starting point.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 10:50:16 AM
While memorizing a recipe is not easy, the question is not all about the recipe. In fact, 1 point is on the stats for the recipe and 2 points for the actual recipe. I don't think of "logistics" as part of the recipe.

Quote
1 point    
Target statistics (starting specific gravity, final specific gravity, and bitterness in IBUs or HBUs) and color (as SRM or a textual description of the color).

2 points    
Batch size, ingredients (grist, hops, water, and yeast) and their quantities.

3.5 points    
Mashing, boil, fermentation, packaging, and other relevant brewing procedures.

3.5 points    
Explain how the recipe fits the style's characteristics for aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and other significant aspects of the style; and describe how the ingredients and processes used impact this style.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on July 06, 2011, 01:05:11 PM
ya know what I think will improve my score the most? - The feedback I got on the first exam.
At some level I really appreciate all the time they took to give me this in-depth feedback.
...but another part of me is annoyed that it wasn't clearer before that that's what was desired.  Feels like I wasted a lot of time studying.  So if I retake it I'll give them exactly what was asked for.  I won't have learned significantly more since the first, but I bet I'll score quite a bit higher. 
/rant
I'm glad to see the upcoming changes to the exam.  Seems like it will be a better indicator of skill at judging beer.

I also agree with John that it is easier to do with a pen.  Unfortunately for those of us who are left-handed, a full page of writing with a pen tends to turn into a full page of ink smears.

cheers--
--Michael

Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: johnf on July 06, 2011, 03:03:39 PM
ya know what I think will improve my score the most? - The feedback I got on the first exam.
At some level I really appreciate all the time they took to give me this in-depth feedback.
...but another part of me is annoyed that it wasn't clearer before that that's what was desired.  Feels like I wasted a lot of time studying.  So if I retake it I'll give them exactly what was asked for.  I won't have learned significantly more since the first, but I bet I'll score quite a bit higher. 
/rant
I'm glad to see the upcoming changes to the exam.  Seems like it will be a better indicator of skill at judging beer.

I also agree with John that it is easier to do with a pen.  Unfortunately for those of us who are left-handed, a full page of writing with a pen tends to turn into a full page of ink smears.

cheers--
--Michael



Pick a quick drying pen...

I think for three hours of writing the extra resistance from a pencil is a suicide mission.

I honed my exam strategy on actuarial exams where we get paid study time and a lot of money is at stake. We tend to be pretty good at strategy. PM me if you want me to ask left handed actuaries what pens they use. We have 6 hour essay exams and I think around 99% of people use pen. You would be amazed at how hard people think about what writing implement to use :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on July 06, 2011, 03:07:46 PM
Pick a quick drying pen...

I think for three hours of writing the extra resistance from a pencil is a suicide mission.

I honed my exam strategy on actuarial exams where we get paid study time and a lot of money is at stake. We tend to be pretty good at strategy. PM me if you want me to ask left handed actuaries what pens they use. We have 6 hour essay exams and I think around 99% of people use pen. You would be amazed at how hard people think about what writing implement to use :)

I don't think I'd be that amazed...I remember how much time I spent just on research on which was the most comfortable mechanical pencil.   8)
Thanks, I'll send ya a PM later.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 04:02:05 PM
This "easy way" will get you 0 out of 3.5 points if I am the grader.  Saying essentially "the ingredients used fit the style because they fit the style" doesn't display any knowledge at all.  I think it is terrible advice.

But at least the exam-taker addressed that portion of the question, which a lot of people don't. And, depending on the grader, you might get partial credit, so it's worth a try if you don't have anything else to say or if you don't have time to write anything else. It's not the best advice in the world, but it's not utterly useless.
I've got to disagree - they haven't addressed that portion of the question.  What if they answered with the following:
Quote
Aroma - malt, yeast, and hop aroma as appropriate for the style
Appearance - color, clarity, and foam as appropriate for the style
Flavor - malt, yeast, and hop flavor as appropriate for the style
Mouthfeel - body and warming as appropriate for the style

If you were grading, how would you grade that answer?  Do you give them partial credit for "addressing that part of the question"?  To me it is the same thing as the other answer, “The malt, hops, and yeast used in this recipe work together to produce the aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel representative of a __________ style.”  They haven't answered the question and they get 0 points.  They are better off leaving it blank, at least then I will have some sympathy for them.

I'm glad Dummies worked out for you, but clearly you ignored sections of it.  If you have to know what is useful and what is not, then it is not a good guide for "dummies".
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 04:03:24 PM
Pick a quick drying pen...

I think for three hours of writing the extra resistance from a pencil is a suicide mission.

I honed my exam strategy on actuarial exams where we get paid study time and a lot of money is at stake. We tend to be pretty good at strategy. PM me if you want me to ask left handed actuaries what pens they use. We have 6 hour essay exams and I think around 99% of people use pen. You would be amazed at how hard people think about what writing implement to use :)

I don't think I'd be that amazed...I remember how much time I spent just on research on which was the most comfortable mechanical pencil.   8)
Thanks, I'll send ya a PM later.
Don't keep it to yourselves, there is more than one left-hander out there who could use the advice . . .
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 06, 2011, 04:35:02 PM
I'm using the Dummies guide as a "guide". I find it very helpful as such, but I think it will take a little more than that to "Master" this exam. I'm retaking the exam in September so I'll be watching this thread for tips and advice.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on July 06, 2011, 04:48:58 PM
OK, so this is probably the wrong forum but since some graders are obviously reading it...

One of the describe/compare/contrast 3-styles questions I had was the 3 beers in Category 8.  Best Bitter, Special Bitter, ESB.
It's the last question I've got left to answer, and I'm running out of time.  I create a grid with aroma/appearance/flavor/mouthfeel/stats/ingredients/similarities/differences and one section at the bottom across all three with basically a history/description/overall impression of the 3.
12 minutes left...I speed up my writing and fill in each square for ESB
7 minutes left...handwriting is getting really bad now as I ignore the pain and write even faster...I fill in each square for Ordinary Bitter
3 minutes left...barely legible, smoke just about to start coming off my hands...I fill in all but two squares for Special Bitter.
For Aroma and Flavor I write in "similar to Ordinary Bitter" in the last few seconds.

I got a good score on this question, but the feedback I got is that it wasn't enough to just say "similar to Ordinary Bitter"

So I sit here looking at the guidelines, wondering if they really want me to write the same thing over again that I just wrote for Ordinary Bitter flavor and aroma.  It seems like the perfect opportunity to save a couple minutes and write just what I did.

So, graders, what is the appropriate way for me to convey that these two beers have the same description for these two attributes?  I covered the differences between these two styles in the stats and similarities/differences sections.


thanks in advance--
--Michael
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 09:32:51 PM
To me writing "similar" would be akin to writing "malt, hops, water, yeast" for the recipe question. It simply did not provide a complete answer showing your knowledge on the subject. You could have skipped the grid and went for a compare/contrast response if that would have saved you time. It's how the exam was answered in the old days before the exam format you see now with explicit point scores.

The reality is time management was the issue, it's much better to convey the points of each style to some degree than to cover some completely and forget others. Think of your grid as 12 data points comprising 6 pts of the answer. Similar got little to no credit, while writing it out may have gotten high marks. So you lost a point for sure by using "similar". Had you put something, or a partial answer the loss would have been mitigated.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 06, 2011, 09:45:27 PM
The reality is time management was the issue, it's much better to convey the points of each style to some degree than to cover some completely and forget others. Think of your grid as 12 data points comprising 6 pts of the answer. Similar got little to no credit, while writing it out may have gotten high marks. So you lost a point for sure by using "similar". Had you put something, or a partial answer the loss would have been mitigated.

I think looking at it from the big picture is key to maximizing your score. As has been said, it's better to have every question answered to the best of one's ability than to have most questions answered completely with a few left unanswered.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: micsager on July 06, 2011, 09:56:17 PM
I'm curious as to the reasoning behind this being a timed test? 
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 10:05:51 PM
You currently have 3 hours to take the exam, how much longer should be given?

It's no one's fault but the examinee if they do not finish. They know exactly how long they have and exactly the format of the questions. It's pretty easy to calculate - 10 min for 4 beers = 40 min max leaving 140 min for 10 questions or 14 min max per question. The first question is three fill in the blank, a series of multiple choice and a grid, but most people could figure out how to fill that out in less than 14 min.

Note: If one has a disability they may be given consideration for a longer period of time.

Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: micsager on July 06, 2011, 10:08:34 PM
I have no clue.  I'm just wondering why time it?  It does sound like from this thread, that some have not had enough time.  Would giving them another hour really be a burden? 

Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 10:11:35 PM
At the judging table one does not get forever to judge a flight. The competition must move forward. As a judge one should be striving to complete the judging of a beer in 10 min. Sure we could give everyone another hour, but we never have and IME the best judges convey information quickly.

FWIW - the new online exam will be even worse, timed and you cannot go back to a question.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: micsager on July 06, 2011, 10:17:16 PM
That makes sense.  Thanks. 

Thanks to all who go through this process!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 10:21:56 PM
I have no clue.  I'm just wondering why time it?  It does sound like from this thread, that some have not had enough time.  Would giving them another hour really be a burden? 
It would be a burden on the graders who would have that many more pages to go through. :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 07, 2011, 12:28:31 AM
Did anyone go to Gordon's BJCP Meeting at NHC? It was mentioned to possibly increase the tasting portion of the exam to six beers and a separate exam.

I think this might be a better way to go as it will allow the examinee to focus on the tasting without distraction from the exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 07, 2011, 12:37:39 AM
Did anyone go to Gordon's BJCP Meeting at NHC? It was mentioned to possibly increase the tasting portion of the exam to six beers and a separate exam.

I think this might be a better way to go as it will allow the examinee to focus on the tasting without distraction from the exam.
This is happening, it is a mater of when, not if.  I'm excited for the change.  :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 07, 2011, 12:42:18 AM
Did anyone go to Gordon's BJCP Meeting at NHC? It was mentioned to possibly increase the tasting portion of the exam to six beers and a separate exam.

I think this might be a better way to go as it will allow the examinee to focus on the tasting without distraction from the exam.
This is happening, it is a mater of when, not if.  I'm excited for the change.  :)

Me too.  :)
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: richardt on July 07, 2011, 01:57:17 AM
What would the process be for a Certified BJCP judge who wants to reach a National or higher ranking?
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 07, 2011, 02:04:44 AM
What would the process be for a Certified BJCP judge who wants to reach a National or higher ranking?

As I understand it the exam will remain as it is today with the exception of the tasting portion which will be conducted separately. This is my understanding. Mike Dixon and others may know more.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: tschmidlin on July 07, 2011, 02:51:55 AM
What would the process be for a Certified BJCP judge who wants to reach a National or higher ranking?
The plan as I understand it is that you would first need to achieve at least a National level score on the tasting.  Then you can sign up to take the written.  There will be no limit on how many can take the tasting at a time.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 08:15:35 AM
I've got to disagree - they haven't addressed that portion of the question.  What if they answered with the following:
Aroma - malt, yeast, and hop aroma as appropriate for the style
Appearance - color, clarity, and foam as appropriate for the style
Flavor - malt, yeast, and hop flavor as appropriate for the style
Mouthfeel - body and warming as appropriate for the style

Based on those criteria, then yes, I'd have to say that the boilerplate in BJCP Exam for Dummies is bad advice. And, also, I could see how the focus on the logistics of recipe design could be distracting. (I'm also mentally smacking myself because I'm sure that I got sucked into discussing recipe and logistics and didn't fully address AAFM in my answer to this question when I retook the exam in April!)

I'm glad Dummies worked out for you, but clearly you ignored sections of it.  If you have to know what is useful and what is not, then it is not a good guide for "dummies".

I agree. BJCP for Dummies is badly flawed and can easily lead a novice astray.  I've figured that out for myself and I've had senior judges (including you) tell me so. What it is good for is strategies on time management and "gaming the exam" by making sure you focus in on the parts of each question which are worth the most points. For a lot of people, that alone is good enough to get a Recognized or Certified score. If you want a higher score, it's not so good. But, as compared to the Interim Study Guide, which contains a lot of extraneous material and doesn't specifically tell you how to take the exam, it's the best study guide out there. If I had the rank or reputation, I'd do something about that. But I don't, so I can't.

Perhaps by this time next year, if I get National rank (got the XP and the written score, just need the tasting score), and once I see how the new exam structure looks, I'll release public versions of my personal study guide. I think it blows all other test prep materials away, but I'm biased.

As for writing implements for the exam, I used a combination of pen and mechanical pencil. I used pen to fill out the page information before the exam and to set up grids. I then used a couple of sharp pencils for most of the exam, reverting to mechanical pencil when both my pencils got dull. Since I'm also a sinister person, I used a cover sheet to keep my hand from dragging through the parts of the page where I'd already written. I also used a Sharpie marker to mark the sample cups, but were I in a more crowded room I wouldn't do that since Sharpies produce too much odor and might distract other test-takers.

If you do use pencil or mechanical pen, having a good eraser helps, since you can erase completely. Bad erasure marks show up as blotches on a poor photocopy.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 08:18:31 AM
I'm using the Dummies guide as a "guide". I find it very helpful as such, but I think it will take a little more than that to "Master" this exam. I'm retaking the exam in September so I'll be watching this thread for tips and advice.

Also check out the member forums on the BJCP web site. When I was prepping for the exam I nagged Mike Dixon and Kevin Pratt unmercifully for advice on how to answer the questions on the exam. They were very patient with me and gave some very good advice.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 08:45:17 AM
One of the describe/compare/contrast 3-styles questions I had was the 3 beers in Category 8.  Best Bitter, Special Bitter, ESB.
It's the last question I've got left to answer, and I'm running out of time.

First of all, you should have had a blank grid made up before the exam started. The "compare 3 styles" question will always be on the exam in its current form.

Second, prioritize and condense information. For example, don't mess around with mentioning that you can actually have American or Continental hops in an Ordinary Bitter, instead say something like "Herbal, earthy English hop notes typical." Only add the additional info if you have time. When possible, summarize sensory descriptors, e.g., "dark/dried fruit esters" instead of "dried cherry, fig, date, prune or plum-like esters." Abbreviate and use bullet points when possible.

Third, practice describing beers in a set fashion so you can work more quickly. For example, I always describe base malt first, then specialty malt, then hops (bittering, flavor, aroma), then yeast character, then oddities and style specific flaws (e.g., coriander, curacao orange, chamomile and slight lactic sour in a Belgian Wit. No ham-like or soapy notes.)

Fourth, get in the habit of describing location, intensity and character of each element. For example, don't just say "English pale malt." Instead, write something like "Initial moderate bready, sweetish pale malt notes" or "Subtle, lingering, pleasant hop bitterness in finish."

Fifth, and this might have cost me this last time around, for many styles aroma and flavor are basically identical. In those cases, you can MAYBE get away with writing something like this for flavor: "Malt and late hop character "follow the nose" and are similar in profile to aroma description." Then you go in an describe flavor specific elements like hop bitterness, balance, finish and other elements which aren't addressed in the aroma description.

Perhaps, maybe, when describing two very similar styles, you could write something like "Similar to X, but more/less malt/hop/yeast character, higher/lower alcohol character.

When two or more styles are identical, as in the compare and contrast sections, I think it's safe to draw arrows between like styles or have comments which straddle two or more columns (as long as you can do so legibly). If not, make your compare and contrast notes obvious. E.g.,  "Same base malt, hop varieties & yeast strains for all sub-styles" or Ordinary Bitter & Best Bitter: Lower in alcohol, often lighter in color & less hop aroma and flavor than ESB."
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 08:52:09 AM
I'm curious as to the reasoning behind this being a timed test? 

IMO, some of it is tradition. More practically, since competitions aren't likely to go to paperless judging any time soon, being able to quickly and accurately summarize your knowledge, and write it down quickly and legibly, is a handy skill if you want to get through a big flight in a reasonable amount of time and do each beer justice. It's a royal pain having to judge with someone who takes 20 minutes to judge each beer. It's even more annoying if they give very little description and feedback while you've fully described the beer and given suggestions for improvement.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 08:55:12 AM
I have no clue.  I'm just wondering why time it?  It does sound like from this thread, that some have not had enough time.  Would giving them another hour really be a burden? 
It would be a burden on the graders who would have that many more pages to go through. :)

Which is why the new exam structure should do away with most of that.

FWIW, from discussions with senior judges, I've learned that untimed tests and allowing computers into the exam room in order to accommodate disabilities don't necessarily result in higher exam scores. It's not how much you write, but what you write that counts.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 09:27:26 AM
Did anyone go to Gordon's BJCP Meeting at NHC? It was mentioned to possibly increase the tasting portion of the exam to six beers and a separate exam.

I'm not in on the process, but I've been following the transition process as closely as I can. I got a chance to interrogate some senior judges at the last competition I judged at. Subsequently, I got confirmation from Mike Dixon and others on the BJCP member forums. I hope that Mike, Gordon and other judges who are in on the exam transition don't jump on me for reporting what I've learned.

The new exam structure will be a three-tiered format. Official details are here: http://www.bjcp.org/docs/newexam.pdf

Qualifier Exam: The qualifier exam will be an online exam (confirmed), consisting of multiple choice and short answer questions (speculation), possibly administered by one of the professional testing companies (speculation). No word as to how many questions will be on the exam, how much time you'll have to take the exam or how difficult it will be.

As of early June, the question pool for the qualifier exam had been broken up into sections and teams of National or better judges were reviewing each bloc of questions. (confirmed)

If you are new to the BJCP program, or if you currently have Apprentice rank, you must pass the qualifier exam before you can take the tasting exam. You have 1 year to take the tasting exam after you pass the qualifying exam.

Tasting Exam: The new tasting exam will cover 6 beers. Time to take the test will be expanded slightly (1.5 hour vs. 1 hour) (speculation). No public details on how flawed beers will be handled on the new exam or if more beer styles will be covered.

Your score on the tasting exam determines your maximum BJCP rank, as under the current program. Maximum possible rank if you just take the qualifier exam and the tasting exam is Certified.

Written Exam: Current and new judges who wish to advance to National or better rank must take a written exam, and anyone who wishes to take the written exam must have, or get, an 80+ tasting score, either on the current exam or the new exam. No word as to format or time allowed to take this exam. My guess is that it will probably be similar to the current written exam.

The new exam format should be in place by the end of the year. I can understand if there are delays though. Better to do the transition right than do a bad, rushed job.
 
Current judges who have Recognized or better rank are basically unaffected by the new program, except for the need to somehow achieve a National or better tasting score before they can take the written exam. If you already have a National or better tasting score, you can take the written exam without needing to take the new tasting exam. (confirmed) Judges who are already in the program have the option of retaking the current written exam.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 07, 2011, 12:07:35 PM
First of all, you should have had a blank grid made up before the exam started.

While you "feel" this saved you time somehow, I just cannot figure out why. It's three columns (two vertical lines) and four rows (three vertical lines). Drawing them ahead of time squeezes your answer into a confined space and saves no time.

Do this, take a piece of paper and draw the lines freehand (really, freehand, graders do not care a flip about straight lines). How long did that take? So whatever time you saved, say 5 seconds how much can you write on a topic in 5 seconds? Would those extra words have made the difference in score? I'll bet I could freehand grid a piece of paper as described above in 2 seconds or less.

I read in dummies about preping this and that and I tell my examinees to not number ANYTHING. I take time after the exam to have them number every sheet in a way which will be the same for all examinees who took that exam. Trust me, the graders like that.

There is only one piece of paper prep work I think examinees should do prior to the exam. Take a ruler and mark the margin 1" from all edges with a black magic marker. During the exam place that sheet under every sheet of paper you are using to take the exam and do no write outside that margin.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: jeffy on July 07, 2011, 01:12:45 PM
There's always a lot of talk about grids whenever taking the exam is discussed.  I fail to see the importance. 
Of course I didn't have all the resources that seem to be available these days and I took the exam(s) after a lot of independent study, but if you're organized and know the material, I think prose will work just as well.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: bluesman on July 07, 2011, 01:32:36 PM
I'm using the Dummies guide as a "guide". I find it very helpful as such, but I think it will take a little more than that to "Master" this exam. I'm retaking the exam in September so I'll be watching this thread for tips and advice.

Also check out the member forums on the BJCP web site. When I was prepping for the exam I nagged Mike Dixon and Kevin Pratt unmercifully for advice on how to answer the questions on the exam. They were very patient with me and gave some very good advice.

Thanks...I'll check it out.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 04:01:22 PM
First of all, you should have had a blank grid made up before the exam started.

While you "feel" this saved you time somehow, I just cannot figure out why. It's three columns (two vertical lines) and four rows (three vertical lines). Drawing them ahead of time squeezes your answer into a confined space and saves no time.

Actually, this last time around, I just did partial grids, with 2 vertical lines to separate the three different beer styles, then lined in the horizontal lines as I worked so that I could give sufficient space to each aspect of the question.

For me, having the grids partially prepared in advance serves as a memory aid and keeps me from being distracted (I have ADHD). It also saves a tiny amount of time and gives me something to do to calm my nerves before the test. (I have test anxiety, too.)

Other than that, your point is well taken. Grids should be minimal and should be an aid to formatting your answer and helping the graders.

I read in dummies about preping this and that and I tell my examinees to not number ANYTHING. I take time after the exam to have them number every sheet in a way which will be the same for all examinees who took that exam. Trust me, the graders like that.

This should be in the rules for proctoring the exam then, if it really does help.

There is only one piece of paper prep work I think examinees should do prior to the exam. Take a ruler and mark the margin 1" from all edges with a black magic marker. During the exam place that sheet under every sheet of paper you are using to take the exam and do no write outside that margin.

This is good advice. It's a variant of the suggestion to line out margins mentioned in "BJCP for Dummies", but is more time efficient, assuming that the paper you're given (usually a lined legal pad) is thin enough.

Again, this could be a standard thing that the proctor provides, since it would be easy enough to design and photocopy a blank 8' x 11.5" page with a big black border approximately 1" from the margins. Heck, you could incorporate it into the exam itself as the page before the cover sheet.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 07, 2011, 04:03:33 PM
There's always a lot of talk about grids whenever taking the exam is discussed.  I fail to see the importance. 
Of course I didn't have all the resources that seem to be available these days and I took the exam(s) after a lot of independent study, but if you're organized and know the material, I think prose will work just as well.

Some questions lend themselves better to grids, but for others (e.g., Gypsum, Finings, Krausening) prose works, too.
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: udubdawg on July 08, 2011, 05:24:09 PM

One of the describe/compare/contrast 3-styles questions I had was the 3 beers in Category 8.  Best Bitter, Special Bitter, ESB.
It's the last question I've got left to answer, and I'm running out of time.

First of all, you should have had a blank grid made up before the exam started. The "compare 3 styles" question will always be on the exam in its current form.


thank you for the response.  For the record I started making grids as soon as they handed out paper after they let us into the room to sit down.  However there wasn't sufficient time to finish them before the exam started.

On another topic, I don't see why the exam really needs to be at all tricky.
What is the point of interrupting me with a beer while I am already writing?  It is not like a steward is going to come by while I am judging and hand me another beer.  And finally, why the extra 30 minutes for those doing split retakes?

Seems like these could be addressed at any time - even before the exam changes come about - everyone taking the whole exam or just the essay part enters the room and has 2.5 hours.  At the end of this everyone stops and those just taking doing the essay leave.  The others get a brief bathroom/whatever break.  Everyone taking the tasting portion enters the room and everyone judges beer for an hour.  You could split it up to 4x15 minute sections or keep it at 1 hour where people could go back to the first beers at any time.  I can live with a timed test, and I understand having it "closed book" though I certainly wouldn't mind having the guidelines available during the the tasting.

This means the same rules for everyone taking it, and less of the multitasking.  I mean, during a competition, who judges beer while thinking about how to boil the answer of a vague question about water down to 1 page?

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: BJCP exam - vital statistics needed?
Post by: MDixon on July 08, 2011, 05:58:03 PM
Again, it all will be moot once the new exam strategy in in place. The essay and taste will be separate exams with different time limits.

As far as why a partial retake gets more time, I'm not sure. You really need no more time for the taste, when I did a taste retake I found myself twiddling my thumbs waiting on the next beer. The proctors do need a bit more time since they fill out an extended score sheet. Probably 15+ min per beer for them would be best.

You don't have to stop writing your thought, just flip a coaster over the beer. Generally it has been poured a few minutes prior to serving so if you need a couple of minutes before evaluating, no big deal. As far as the style guidelines, the examinees need to learn the styles. Sure they are generally available at competition, but when you sit on the BOS table you rarely have time to site and digest the style guidelines and under the new exam strategy the essay exam will determine who becomes a higher ranking judge and who does not.