I took it at lunch while at work, on a whim, with no reference materials....and just barely squeeked by. I thought I was done, and then had a few unanswered questions *that I thought I had answered*...my intent was to fail to get an understanding of what they were asking, but I passed by the hair on my chinny chin chin (as they say).
The wording of such entrance exams are designed to throw you off....after all, it is beer nerds testing you to see if you are worthy of being in the club.
The real challenge is finding a testing slot within a 12 month window. I have one in March 2013 *I think, and I tested just after the opening of the new on-line exam in April 2012. There are at least 5 exams scheduled in my area in the next 12 months, and to my knowledge, I got the last slot. I even checked my old home town (fly to test) and the 3 or 4 scheduled in the next year were also booked.
That is the biggest problem with the BJCP exam process. I want to study,take, and pass the online test. But..why if there are no testing slots in the major metro area I live in (Los Angeles)? I can travel either 3-4 hours south or 5-6 hours north and "maybe" find an open slot. Seems like a major headache...just so somebody can wave a wand over my head and say "you are a beer judge". Yet everytime there is a comp..they are hurting for judges and will take just about anyone.
I totally agree with what you are saying about the lack of slots in LA. I plan on taking the online test soon, but just to see where I stand on knowledge. I've pretty much given up on the thought of taking the next level of exams due to lack of availability. If something pops up for me, great... but otherwise, I can live without it. I'm hoping that the online exam is only a small part of the testing overhaul, and that they will iron out the rest eventually.
A bit off topic from the original post but this could be useful to those that are looking to take the Beer Judging Exam and are having a hard time finding a location in their area.
I would suggest working with a homebrew club or local professional brewer to get a Beer Judging Exam scheduled. The testing admin has to be approved by the exam director, not necessarily a National or Master judge. You'll also need two qualified Proctors to come to your area on the day of the exam. You can find a list of qualified Proctors here on the BJCP web site - http://www.bjcp.org/apps/reports/proctors.php
This is how we got BJCP judges in Milwaukee going years ago. Someone local was approved by the exam director and we kindly asked two Chicago area judges to come up and Proctor. Bought them a beer and a lunch as a thank you. Today we have over 40 judges in South Eastern WI.