Author Topic: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam  (Read 7100 times)

Offline gmac

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Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« on: September 20, 2012, 02:21:30 PM »
I've got to do the BJCP tasting exam on Sept 30.  Not ideal timing since I just passed the entrance exam and this is the only time that there will be an exam in the next year near me. 

So, any advice on cramming for this?  I can read the off-flavours material in How to Brew, style comments in Brewing Classic Styles and look around on-line but that's about it.  I've gotten some great advice PM'd to me but I'd love to hear from others how I can do my best on this.  Doesn't help that I'm away working all next week.  I will try to drink as much beer as I can while I'm gone, hope that works.
Please help.
Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 02:23:40 PM by gmac »

Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2012, 03:09:23 PM »
There is a lot of good stuff on the BJCP website in the exam center section. I would download all the PDFs under the heading "Studying for the Beer Judge Exam", and read all of them at least once. Then you can just go back study the one's where you may be deficient. Once you've done that it's the fun part, practice. I don't always trust online beer reviews (e.g. Beer Advocate), but I think it's useful to buy a beer, fill out a full BJCP/AHA scoresheet, and compare your thoughts to other reviews to see if you can pick up the same flavors/aromas.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2012, 05:33:03 PM »
Complete scoresheets probably score the best.  For example on aroma the score sheet says to comment on malt, hops, esters, and other aromatics.  Make sure you comment on each of those and include your perceived intensity, for example, intense toasty malt, low citrusy hops, low peach-like esters, very low, but clean alcohol.
Complete sensory comments are worth more than the actual scores in my opinion.
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Offline saintpierre

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 05:34:50 PM »
I agree with filling out a complete sheet. I can relate as I was in a similar position when I took my tasting exam. I was wait-listed and found out 5 weeks before my exam that I had a spot.

Not sure how you learn but, I made flash cards for every style.  Writing everything out really helped me cram.  Don't get me wrong, I expect to take it again as I don't think I scored an 80 or better (still waiting on results).

Good luck.
Mike St. Pierre
Maine Ale & Libation Tasters (MALT)
BJCP Recognized
[719.4, 74.1] AR

Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2012, 05:51:59 PM »
Also, I know for me "cramming" doesn't work for any test. I just can't process any more info after awhile.  So if it were me, I would make sure to go maybe 30 - 45 minutes a day for the next 10 rather than try to study for 2 hours at a time on any day.

Offline gmac

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 06:03:49 PM »
I've been trying to rate my own homebrews for the last couple day.  Problem is, I keep giving them all 50.

Offline Mark G

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 06:33:49 PM »
I think the best thing you can do is keep filling out scoresheets every time you try a new beer. The more complete your sheets, the better. Work on your vocabulary of descriptors. If you can't communicate what you're tasting, your sensory skills are worthless. Go back through your Zymurgy issues and reread the commercial calibrations. I picked up a lot of good descriptors in there. Also take some time to study the style guidelines if you don't already know them. You won't have access to them during the exam. And did I mention keep drinking as many different beers as possible? That's the toughest part of preparing. ;)

Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 06:35:58 PM by Mark G »
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Offline tygo

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 08:22:27 PM »
I've been trying to rate my own homebrews for the last couple day.  Problem is, I keep giving them all 50.

 ;D

Good luck on the exam.
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Offline theDarkSide

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2012, 05:33:05 AM »
I've been trying to rate my own homebrews for the last couple day.  Problem is, I keep giving them all 50.

Funny, I always give mine 25 or less.  I'm so self-critical  ;D
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Offline blatz

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2012, 07:29:31 AM »
I've been trying to rate my own homebrews for the last couple day.  Problem is, I keep giving them all 50.

go graba couple of mixed sixers of commercial beers, try and get all different styles and fill out scoresheets based on those. 
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline saintpierre

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2012, 08:49:34 AM »
Funny, I always give mine 25 or less.  I'm so self-critical  ;D
I do the same thing...

I agree you should be filling out score sheets like crazy.
Mike St. Pierre
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BJCP Recognized
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Offline nateo

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2012, 07:54:31 AM »
I will try to drink as much beer as I can . . . hope that works.

That was my strategy in college, but I didn't do particularly well on those exams. Maybe I just hadn't found the right exam yet.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2012, 11:28:49 AM »
Using descriptve adjectives and filling up the allowed space are two good pieces of advice but ultimately it comes down to how well you match the judges who evaluate the beers.  Be prepared to see one or two of the major types of flaws like DMS, diacetyl or oxidation.  Oxidation is the toughest one for me.
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Offline duxx

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 06:46:13 PM »
This from the the BJCP website:
Scoring Accuracy (20%), 9/20 is lowest score, though.
ŠPerception Comments (20%)
ŠDescriptive Ability (20%)
ŠFeedback (20%)
ŠCompleteness/Communication (20%)

Also there should be one nearly perfect brewery fresh beer and one badly flawed beer.
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Offline mpietropaoli

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Re: Cramming for a BJCP Tasting Exam
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 08:04:27 PM »
do you have time to spend @ a craft beer bar and have the bartender pour you a random beer, where you'd have to guess it?  combine that (I'd suggest a half pour, or taster if they'll do it), fill out the score sheets, as they say, and try to find some good reviews on BeerAdvocate/Ratebeer and compare to yours.  iPad/remote internet/smartphone would be key for this approach.
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