Author Topic: Passed the BJCP Written exam  (Read 718 times)

Offline yso191

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Passed the BJCP Written exam
« on: November 22, 2015, 03:19:47 PM »
I finally took the test.  I've been studying for it for a while, supposedly leading up to a July tasting exam.  The organizer of that exam had to change the day to a Sunday and *poof*, I was out.  Discouraged, I just dropped the whole thing from my mind.

Yesterday, on kind of a spur of the moment decision, I bought 3 tests (how's that for confidence), but passed it on the first try.  It feels really good to be back at it.  Now for the tasting exam!  And now that I am free on the weekends it should be much easier to connect with one.
Steve
All Hands Brewing
BJCP #D1667

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2015, 04:13:58 PM »
Good to be persistent. You have the fist step done.

The tasting depends on what you can taste and smell (aroma, appearance, mouthfeel, taste), then summing it up and giving recommendations for improving the Brew against the guidelines. Good Luck.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline yso191

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2015, 10:14:31 PM »
Anyone: Are certain beer styles more common on the tasting exam than others?  I'd like to focus my prep if possible.
Steve
All Hands Brewing
BJCP #D1667

Offline jeffy

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2015, 11:43:08 PM »
You are supposed to get a variety of beers, from light color to dark, ale and lager, low gravity to strong, but with no specialty beers.  Flights are arranged by the local exam administrator and approved by the exam director.
Each exam will be different, but a flight of six should have a couple beers with identifiable faults as well as one classic example.
So, no, there are no common test beers, but there are no weird beers either.
I think that there is more sensory evaluation than there is style identification in the grading.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2015, 11:59:10 PM »
You said anyone... so here you go

My test had a APA, Belgian Blond, Baltic Porter, RIS, can't remember the other two. I wouldn't expect any sour beers or specialies or historics.

Personally, my suggestion would be to just go for it. Sign up for the next available test. Then print out a bunch of exam sheets and practice filling one out every day. Focus on completeness, hitting all the points. For example,  aroma should cover esters malt hops and anything else like spices, and (stuff that should there be but aren't, or shouldn't be are). This (stuff) is where style knowledge and fault detection are shown. Then try to include a couple intelligently but non assuming suggestions. When it comes to scoring... go with your gut but be careful a little. I'd be cautious of giving over 40 or under 30 unless they were obviously awesome or horible. On my test I gave the fresh classic example a 39 and was 6 points too high. On what I thought was the faulty example (old and starting to oxidize) I think I gave a 29 and was 6 points too low. So dont get too spun up about it.

It my personal opinion that the only way to get master level scoring is to judge with several other masters long enough that you are not adjusting your scores anymore. That or pure luck

I also of the opinion that scoring with a number system is not all that helpful. GABF doesn't use numbers. I'd be happy if the number system went away and we just assigned World Class, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed.  As it stands the numbers dont really mean too much since a 42 can take silver and a 38 win the gold,  right?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2015, 02:02:16 AM by klickitat jim »

Offline santoch

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2015, 02:04:51 AM »
Congrats on passing the online exam.  Well done!

Most of the styles are fair game for the exam. Beers with variable ingredients, such as Specialty, Spice, Herb, Veg, or Fruit beers are not allowed.  Neither are the new "historical" styles, braggots, stuff like that.

Scoring Accuracy is only 1/5th of the grade.  It is measured by taking your score, subtracting the proctor's consensus, and taking the absolute value of that (ie, turn it positive if its negative).  Add them up, and you get the total deviation.  Worst you can get on that is 9 out of 20, so even if you totally bomb your scoring accuracy, you will still get 45% on that section.

The remainder of your grade is around the other areas:

Perception
Descriptive Ability
Feedback
Completeness

I highly recommend anyone who will be taking the exam to read and understand all of the documents in the "grader's resources" section of the Exam Center page of the BJCP web site:

In particular:
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/LeadGrading.pdf
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/Scoring_Guide.pdf

And last but certainly not least:
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/BJCP_Scoresheet_Guide.pdf

That is what the graders are looking for and what you need to write.  It also will help you to understand what's happening to your exam after you turn in your papers.


My comments:

1) Don't freak out.  Judge what's in front of you.  By the time you take the exam, you should have filled out many, many scoresheets.  If not, get practicing so you have filled out many before you take the exam.

2) Don't concentrate on only the primary flavors and aromas (like hops in IPA, Esters/Phenolics in Belgians, or Malt in Stouts) ignoring the others.
You should comment on every subheader item for each section on the score sheet:
for example, in the Aroma section it says: Aroma(comment on malt, hops, esters, and other aromatics)
You need to actually say something about malt, something abotu hops, something about esters, AND something about other aromatics.  "no discernable X" counts and is encouraged as appropriate.  Diacetyl, DMS, sulphur are common flaws in lagers, so look for and comment on them, even to note their absense.
Alcohol for big beers such as Barleywines, Strong Belgians, IIPA, RIS, Wee Heavy, etc.  Think of the "signatures" of the style and ensure that those things are addressed.
Remember that hops contribute hop flavor, and hop bitterness.  Comment on each of them separately. 

2) Always use 3 part descriptors:  a) descriptive comment on Intensity, b) vivid adjective, c) the characteristic.  "Hoppy" doesn't cut it.  "Firm, resiny hop bitterness" is much better.

3) Don't make any assumptions about processes or ingredients.  "Don't use peated malt" assumes they did.
"use a higher mash temp" assumes an all grain batch.  Better feedback is to state the problem and then offer possible solutions:  "Increase body and mouth feel.  Possible solutions may include but aren't limited to: using a higher mash temp,  adding malto dextrin powder, or adding a bit of wheat malt."

4) Don't inject your personal preferences. "I would like to see....." is not objective feedback.  "better examples exhibit xxxx" is a better way to word it and it places the emphasis back onto the style guidelines where it belongs.

5) Don't suddenly discover a flaw in the overall impression section.  It should have already been covered in the other sections.

6) Even high scoring beers should be given some form of comment on how to improve the beer.

7) The score sheet should be self supportive.  The total score should reflect the lower left box which has the scoring ranges in it.  The parts should agree with the whole.

8) Lots of white space means that you are leaving things out.  See #2

9) Remember that people are paying money to enter their beers and expect respectful, constructive criticism and feedback.  Derogatory or inflammatory feedback, or overly short or terse statements are not what the entrants are looking for.  Respect their wishes and treat their score sheet as if you were writing it for yourself or you family member.

10) Don't forget to add the score up properly and be sure to check the check boxes on the side and the bottom as appropriate.

HTH-

Steve
Mt. Si Brewing Society
Washington Homebrewer's Association (WAHA)
BJCP GM2/Mead Judge

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2015, 02:20:52 AM »
Congrats on passing the online exam.  Well done!

Most of the styles are fair game for the exam. Beers with variable ingredients, such as Specialty, Spice, Herb, Veg, or Fruit beers are not allowed.  Neither are the new "historical" styles, braggots, stuff like that.

Scoring Accuracy is only 1/5th of the grade.  It is measured by taking your score, subtracting the proctor's consensus, and taking the absolute value of that (ie, turn it positive if its negative).  Add them up, and you get the total deviation.  Worst you can get on that is 9 out of 20, so even if you totally bomb your scoring accuracy, you will still get 45% on that section.

The remainder of your grade is around the other areas:

Perception
Descriptive Ability
Feedback
Completeness

I highly recommend anyone who will be taking the exam to read and understand all of the documents in the "grader's resources" section of the Exam Center page of the BJCP web site:

In particular:
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/LeadGrading.pdf
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/Scoring_Guide.pdf

And last but certainly not least:
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/BJCP_Scoresheet_Guide.pdf

That is what the graders are looking for and what you need to write.  It also will help you to understand what's happening to your exam after you turn in your papers.


My comments:

1) Don't freak out.  Judge what's in front of you.  By the time you take the exam, you should have filled out many, many scoresheets.  If not, get practicing so you have filled out many before you take the exam.

2) Don't concentrate on only the primary flavors and aromas (like hops in IPA, Esters/Phenolics in Belgians, or Malt in Stouts) ignoring the others.
You should comment on every subheader item for each section on the score sheet:
for example, in the Aroma section it says: Aroma(comment on malt, hops, esters, and other aromatics)
You need to actually say something about malt, something abotu hops, something about esters, AND something about other aromatics.  "no discernable X" counts and is encouraged as appropriate.  Diacetyl, DMS, sulphur are common flaws in lagers, so look for and comment on them, even to note their absense.
Alcohol for big beers such as Barleywines, Strong Belgians, IIPA, RIS, Wee Heavy, etc.  Think of the "signatures" of the style and ensure that those things are addressed.
Remember that hops contribute hop flavor, and hop bitterness.  Comment on each of them separately. 

2) Always use 3 part descriptors:  a) descriptive comment on Intensity, b) vivid adjective, c) the characteristic.  "Hoppy" doesn't cut it.  "Firm, resiny hop bitterness" is much better.

3) Don't make any assumptions about processes or ingredients.  "Don't use peated malt" assumes they did.
"use a higher mash temp" assumes an all grain batch.  Better feedback is to state the problem and then offer possible solutions:  "Increase body and mouth feel.  Possible solutions may include but aren't limited to: using a higher mash temp,  adding malto dextrin powder, or adding a bit of wheat malt."

4) Don't inject your personal preferences. "I would like to see....." is not objective feedback.  "better examples exhibit xxxx" is a better way to word it and it places the emphasis back onto the style guidelines where it belongs.

5) Don't suddenly discover a flaw in the overall impression section.  It should have already been covered in the other sections.

6) Even high scoring beers should be given some form of comment on how to improve the beer.

7) The score sheet should be self supportive.  The total score should reflect the lower left box which has the scoring ranges in it.  The parts should agree with the whole.

8) Lots of white space means that you are leaving things out.  See #2

9) Remember that people are paying money to enter their beers and expect respectful, constructive criticism and feedback.  Derogatory or inflammatory feedback, or overly short or terse statements are not what the entrants are looking for.  Respect their wishes and treat their score sheet as if you were writing it for yourself or you family member.

10) Don't forget to add the score up properly and be sure to check the check boxes on the side and the bottom as appropriate.

HTH-

Steve
Golden! When I have enough jp to qualify for national I'm going to test again, and this is what I would study and practice with. Thanks Steve

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2015, 03:12:58 AM »
The styles typically are the ones you see often - we had an American Pale ale (comprised of a combination of the three lowest scoring pales at a competition earlier in the year), a Wit, a Blonde ale, an Oktoberfest, a Bohemian Pilsner, and a Belgian Dark Strong.  Each Exam Administrator has his own approach, but they usually don't go for fairly exotic styles and want to see your command of the typical styles.

I agree with the other comments about your focus, but for the really good beer, you are likely to have excellent commercial examples, so finding improvement is pretty tough on those.  I read the Zymurgy Commercial Calibrations for many, many issues to see how the big hitters handled really good beers and so on the exam I added what I would enjoy the beer with as a food pairing and inserted some missing flaws (i.e., those things that were not present and rightfully so - such as "No DMS, no diacetyl, no hop aroma, no (insert the missing flaw here) and that helped my score.  Finally, be sure to qualify the things you sense in terms of low mid or high presence - "bready malt noted  in the initial palate - medium high". 

Lastly, I suggest judging as many events as you can before the test - it is really the best way to hone your judging skills.
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Offline santoch

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2015, 03:54:28 AM »
One other thing I forgot to mention-

Some aromas are fleeting.  They show up early then dissipate.  It is a good practice to revisit those sort of things AFTER you complete the flavor section to comment on whether they have changed. 

For instance (in a Pils:)

Light match-like sulphur notes up front.
<blah>the rest of the aroma commentary goes here. </blah>
Sulphur dissipated as beer sat.

Similarly, off-aromas that do not show up in the flavor should be noted:

Diacetyl noted in aroma was not present in the flavor.

HTH-
Steve
Mt. Si Brewing Society
Washington Homebrewer's Association (WAHA)
BJCP GM2/Mead Judge

Offline mainebrewer

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2015, 11:06:06 AM »
Completing many score sheets prior to the exam was important for me.
You've got to get all the things that Steve mentioned down and the score sheet completed in 15 min or less.
Preferably, less. It's helpful to have a couple of minutes to look the score sheet over for completeness/accuracy and to gather your thoughts before the next beer arrives.
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Offline toby

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Re: Passed the BJCP Written exam
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2015, 02:54:09 PM »
Pretty much everything Steve said.  Judge (or at least steward) as much as you can.  Pick a certified judge's brain on what they're sensing.  Start filling out scoresheets on every beer you drink (and check the bottling dates if available so you can get a gauge on how certain styles age).  Look up the Commercial Calibration pages in every issue of Zymurgy and see if they've done a sheet on one that you have available.