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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: SpanishCastleAle on April 20, 2011, 12:48:47 PM

Title: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 20, 2011, 12:48:47 PM
I've been trying to get into a BJCP exam for over a year now.  I've contacted all the sites listed on the BJCP 'scheduled exams'  in Florida and as of now I still can't get into an exam before October, 2012.    I'm still waiting for a response for the October 2012 exam in Jacksonville.  I always hear that there is a shortage of BJCP judges, it's no wonder why.

Is it common for it to be damn near impossible to get into an exam?  I'm almost to the point of just saying screw it but then I think of how much it would help my own homebrew club if we had more judges.  We had almost 600 entries for our club-sponsored comp last year and although it went very smoothly, the judges (many from out of town) worked a lot.  And I'd rather not be stuck in the cellar the whole time next year. ;)

Sorry for the rant/vent.  I might not even pass the first time but I'd at least like to get the process started.  Anything in the works to decrease this problem?
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: dbarber on April 20, 2011, 01:00:15 PM
I am in the same boat, although I am trying to take it again to get a national rank.  As a club we finally decided to hold our own exam to try and increase the number of judges in the club.  I just have to wait until March 2012 to take it.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: tumarkin on April 20, 2011, 01:11:06 PM
Our club, Hogtown Brewers in Gainesville, held an exam 4 or 5 months ago. We did have a number of out of town folks that took it along with our members. No plans to hold another yet. My understanding is that there has been an increase in the number of people taking the exam (which is graded by volunteers), so it has put increased pressure on scheduling & taking the test. Seems like competition entries are generally increasing so we certainly need more judges. Good luck finding and taking the exam. Which club are you in?
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: tomsawyer on April 20, 2011, 01:34:22 PM
Yes its tough to get a seat everywhere, just sign up for what you can get.  They reduced the number of seats per exam this year so that made it even tougher to get in.  I hear that some changes may be in the works as far as test format, that might make it easier to grade and therefore let more folks take the test.  Right now two National judges have to grade each test, very time consuming and labor intensive.

You might also let places know if you can fill in at the lat minute, I had a couple of chances to retake my tasting portion recently if I was willing to go the next week.  I didn't take them up on it but only bacause I passed the test already and am not in a huge hurry to get to the next level.

In the meantime, sign up to do some judging as an apprentice, or better yet steward.  It's great experience and will probably help you as much as studying.  My wife has stewarded a couple of times when I was judging, and honestly I think it might be more fun to steward.  You can ask to taste the beers and you hear judges discussing so you're really a part of the process.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 20, 2011, 01:39:54 PM
Good luck finding and taking the exam. Which club are you in?
Thanks.  Central Florida Homebrewers.

Yeah, from what I've heard it takes quite a while to get your test results back so it appears grading the exam is big hurdle (as tomsawyer just mentioned).  I've helped at our club comp but haven't traveled to help out the other Florida clubs.  I just can't even get a sniff of a test.

I'd be willing to travel to take it.  Maybe I should look for exams in Las Vegas. :)
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: Tim McManus on April 20, 2011, 01:42:48 PM
I too had some challenges getting a seat for the exam.  As I understand it, there is a shortage of graders and the amount of people taking the test each month is pushing the limits of these graders.

My homebrew club decided to sponsor an exam, so I finally got a seat.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: bluesman on April 20, 2011, 01:44:48 PM
With the increased interest in homebrewing there has also been an increased interest in judging which has strained the available resources. There is about a year long waiting list for testing and another 6 months wait for test results. This all stems from the amount of volunteers available to proctor and grade exams.

I recommend staying on top of it and being relentless in your efforts to secure a spot. You will get one just don't give up.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: johnf on April 20, 2011, 01:59:48 PM
They exams aren't offered too often in my city (which is at least a 3 hour drive from any other place likely to have one ever). I had just missed one when I decided I wanted to take the exam. I just looked at the calendar and picked 4-5 in cities I like and ended up getting a spot in Portland where I used to live and my wife has family and we arranged a short vacation around it. Other than that, be relentless and consider putting on one yourself. It sounds like your club is big enough that you could secure an administrator and two proctors. The 12 person exams often fill up with people the sponsor had in mind when he scheduled the exam so it pays to know the people who are likely to sponsor these things and let them know you want a spot. In a competitive area waiting for the exam to show up on the calendar may be waiting too long.

If there are a few a year in Florida, you do have it better than much of the country at least.

Interestingly that exam I just missed, the next exam in my city will be one I organize (and probably proctor rather than administer) as a Master judge (well assuming I don't suddenly break both legs and not get the last handful of points I need this year). If I had just waited around for the next local one, I would be pretty far behind.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: jeffy on April 20, 2011, 02:16:25 PM
Be sure to ask the people who have organized the upcoming tests (West Palm and Melbourne) to let you know if a space becomes available.  We held an exam in Tampa in January and could have seated several more people.
As stated above, it's not difficult to schedule an exam on your own in your area.  There's a good pool of National and Master judges who would be available to host and proctor it.
Having the time ahead also gives you time to organize a study group....
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: denny on April 20, 2011, 02:58:44 PM
I ran an exam last Nov.  We maxed out at the 20 person limit.  But on the day of the exam, 6 of them didn't show up, even though they'd paid the full fee in advance (I made everybody do that to be sure they'd show up).  Very frustrating since I also had a waiting list of a dozen people.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: tschmidlin on April 20, 2011, 04:19:34 PM
Denny, in your case I think you should recommend the waiting list people study as if they are going to take the exam, and invite them to show up the day of the exam and take it.  If people don't show, you can submit an exam from the waiting list in their place.  Even if they don't get to submit their exam, taking one as a practice is a great way to study for the next time they get a chance to take it.

Lack of graders is a big problem, I've graded several sets and it takes a really long time and is a lot of work.  Writing the responses to the test takes is really time consuming too.  Some changes have been made to make grading easier, and more are being discussed.  Hopefully it's something we can get worked out soon so we can get people in the system faster without straining the everyone.

Scheduling your own exam is really a good way to go if you have a bunch of people in your club who are interested.  You can find people to come and administer/proctor the exam so you can sit for it too.  The 2 proctors are ideally National or better, or at least National on the tasting.  The administrator doesn't need a specific rank.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: Pinski on April 20, 2011, 04:44:59 PM
I ran an exam last Nov.  We maxed out at the 20 person limit.  But on the day of the exam, 6 of them didn't show up, even though they'd paid the full fee in advance (I made everybody do that to be sure they'd show up).  Very frustrating since I also had a waiting list of a dozen people.
Hey Denny, where should one look for the best information regarding BJCP resources/events in Oregon? Thanks!
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: denny on April 20, 2011, 05:05:59 PM
Denny, in your case I think you should recommend the waiting list people study as if they are going to take the exam, and invite them to show up the day of the exam and take it.  If people don't show, you can submit an exam from the waiting list in their place.  Even if they don't get to submit their exam, taking one as a practice is a great way to study for the next time they get a chance to take it.


Good idea, Tom.  Wish I would have done that. 

Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: denny on April 20, 2011, 05:06:38 PM
I ran an exam last Nov.  We maxed out at the 20 person limit.  But on the day of the exam, 6 of them didn't show up, even though they'd paid the full fee in advance (I made everybody do that to be sure they'd show up).  Very frustrating since I also had a waiting list of a dozen people.
Hey Denny, where should one look for the best information regarding BJCP resources/events in Oregon? Thanks!

http://www.bjcp.org/exams.php
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: gordonstrong on April 20, 2011, 06:58:02 PM
Denny, in your case I think you should recommend the waiting list people study as if they are going to take the exam, and invite them to show up the day of the exam and take it.  If people don't show, you can submit an exam from the waiting list in their place.  Even if they don't get to submit their exam, taking one as a practice is a great way to study for the next time they get a chance to take it.

This is really good advice.  Get on a waiting list.  If there isn't one, ask that they start one.  It seems like all exams have people bail at the last minute for excuses good and poor.  But you have to be ready to take the exam.  Sometimes these openings aren't known until the day of the exam.

We're trying to get a different entry level exam set up, but it's taking a lot of time to get the initial question pool created.  It's easy to describe the concept, but hard to get it done.

There is an exam at the NHC in San Diego.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 21, 2011, 02:44:08 PM
Just got an e-mail from the guy doing one in October, 2012; the last one listed for Florida on the BJCP scheduled exams page...'already over the limit'. :-\
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: bluesman on April 21, 2011, 03:07:20 PM
Just got an e-mail from the guy doing one in October, 2012; the last one listed for Florida on the BJCP scheduled exams page...'already over the limit'. :-\

Sounds like getting on the shortest waiting list you can find is your best bet, but at the same time I also recommend trying to secure a spot.
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: bfogt on April 21, 2011, 03:44:42 PM
I'm glad to hear that something is officially happening to get the entry test in place.  I think a lot of frustration comes from thinking that this logjam is going to be in place for the foreseeable future.

Good luck to everyone trying to get into the exam for the first time. 
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: oscarvan on April 21, 2011, 09:02:59 PM
Sounds like there should be no shortage of judges in the future.....
Title: Re: Can a brother get a BJCP exam?
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 08:43:09 AM
I've been trying to get into a BJCP exam for over a year now. 

The big bottleneck is the lack of graders. That's why there's a limit on the number of tests that can be offered each month. You have to be a National or better judge (meaning only about 10% of the judges out there qualify) and, currently, grading is a time-consuming process that burns out lots of people.

It's been my experience that it takes at least a year to get on the schedule, sometimes more. You're actually doing pretty well to get an exam slot 18 months out. Other people have given good advice about getting on a waiting list.

I'll add that you don't need to be a BJCP-ranked judge in order to judge, and that you should probably get some judging experience before you take the exam. Contact your friendly local homebrew club, tell them that you're interested in judging and ask what resources they have to help you. There are online sources which can help you prep for the exam, but it really helps if you can judge beer with experienced judges. If you're really serious, start a BJCP study session/training class with other folks who are interested in becoming judges.

Also, don't let yourself get stuck in the cellar at your next competition (although a good cellarman is a blessing when running a big competition). If you can't judge, at least steward. That way you can see how judges work. If the judges are on their game, they'll also let you drink with them and might use the session as a tutoring session.