The exam administrator plays a key role in the BJCP exam process by acting as the principal intermediary between the BJCP exam program and exam candidates. The exam administrator is responsible for handling all exam materials, collecting information from exam candidates and proctors, and ensuring the integrity of the exam. For judging exams, the administrator also prepares, serves, and describes the exam beverages.
This guide discusses the planning and preparation necessary for giving any BJCP exam. Exam-specific procedures provide an additional level of detail.
Exam Administrator Requirements
The exam administrator and proctors must be approved in advance by a BJCP exam director. The exam administrator cannot take the exam being administered. Exam administrators have BJCP rank requirements:
- The Exam Administrator must be BJCP National or higher-ranked Judge.
Exam administrator requirements can be waived at the discretion of the exam director if sufficient cause warrants (e.g., geographic or scheduling considerations).
Exam Proctor Requirements
The BJCP requires a minimum of two proctors per judging exam. A maximum of three proctors can be used, but the exam administrator cannot be used as a proctor if the administrator is also the person who selected and prepared the exam beverages.
Graders of tasting exams require high-quality proctor scoresheets to complete their task. To ensure this, exam proctors must come from pre-approved proctor lists for each exam type:
If the administrator for an exam site is not able to obtain proctors from these lists, they MUST contact the Exam Director at least two weeks prior to the exam to get approval to use alternative proctors. In special cases, such as when the exam is in a remote location or there are a large number of examinees, the Exam Director may grant travel stipends for experienced proctors per the Exam Proctor Reimbursement Policy.
The Exam Director can grant waivers from the proctor rules, but such exceptions are rare. The use of a beer judging exam proctor with less than National rank, including the use of judges with minimum tasting score of 80 and more than 10 judging experience points, requires pre-approval by the Exam Director. We further desire that at least one proctor be a Master judge (or higher) or a judge with a minimum tasting score of 90 and with at least 20 judging experience points.
Exam Administrator Responsibilities
The exam administrator must verify that all exam candidates are qualified to take the exam. The requirements vary for each exam, but generally involve checking existing BJCP judges for their ID, rank, and potentially experience points, and prospective judges for their online exam certificates. Any examinees who were not qualified at the time they took the exam will not have their exam graded and their fees will not be refunded.
For judging exams, the exam administrator must verify that everyone taking the exam is of legal drinking age in the location where the exam is administered.
Exam administrators must keep all exam materials private and to not do anything to compromise the integrity and fairness of the exam. The exam administrator must return exam materials and data promptly as specified in exam procedures.
Administrators receive two non-judging experience points for their work, but these points may be withheld or reduced if these instructions are not followed, or if the exams are not received within ten days of the exam date.
Exam Proctor Responsibilities
On judging exams, exam proctors create the scoresheets against which exam candidates are judges. The proctors score the exam beverages using no information beyond that which is given to the examinees, except that proctors are allowed to reference the BJCP Style Guidelines and that the proctors have no time limit.
Proctors receive one judging experience point for their work, but these points may be withheld if their work is substandard.
Exam proctors are not used on written exams.
Please read the specific exam procedures for your type of exam:
The procedures are different for each type of exam, and may have changed from the past. Please review the procedures well in advance of your exam date.
Scheduling an Exam Time
If people are traveling for your exam, consider scheduling the exam start time for late morning or early afternoon to allow those travelers to arrive and leave on the same day as the exam. Keep seasonal weather conditions in mind when setting the date and time of your exam, particularly when adverse road conditions may be present. This will also help reduce the early morning calls you will receive from “sick” examinees.
Collecting Participant Information
Before exam day, collect contact information for all your potential examinees and proctors. You will use this information to complete the BJCP-supplied participant information spreadsheet that must be transmitted to the BJCP. Allowing examinees on exam day to verify their information once entered into the spreadsheet provides an additional validation step. The BJCP uses this information to create database records for examinees, so please ensure that it is correct or examinees may not receive their results. Handwritten information is not acceptable, the BJCP only accepts the electronic form.
Coordinating with the Exam Director
There are multiple exam directors in the BJCP; one of them will be assigned responsibility for your exam site several months before the exam date. While you can reach all exam directors using their group email alias, you should contact your specific exam director using their email address found on our officer’s page.
Consider discussing your potential exam beverages with your assigned exam director well before exam day for judging exams. They may have suggestions for you to improve the quality of your exam. There are specific guidelines for beverage selection in the exam-specific procedures for each judging exam. Discussing proctors for judging exams is also highly recommended.
Coordinating with Other BJCP Directorates
For existing BJCP judges, teaching or taking a pre-approved exam preparation class can learn continuing education credits (non-judging experience points). The details are handled by the BJCP Education and Training Directorate, not the Exam Directorate. Contact the BJCP education director for more information.
For beer judging classes, the BJCP offers a Beer Characteristic Kit used to spike various flavors and aromas into beer. The ordering and distribution of these kits is handled through the Education and Training Directorate.
Fees, Expenses, and Payments
The exam administrator is the only individual to pay the BJCP for an exam. Participants must pay the exam administrator directly; the BJCP does not accept payments from individual examinees.
The fees for BJCP examinations are:
The BJCP price applies to those people who are a BJCP member (people who have taken a Judging Exam, and who have received a five-character BJCP ID). All others (including those who have only passed an entrance exam and who only have a four-digit certificate number) pay the Non-BJCP price.
|Exam Type||BJCP Price||Non-BJCP Price|
|BJCP Beer Judge Entrance Examination||US$10||US$10|
|BJCP Mead Judge Entrance Examination||US$10||US$10|
|BJCP Cider Judge Entrance Examination||US$10||US$10|
|BJCP Beer Judging Examination||US$15||US$40|
|BJCP Beer Judge Written Proficiency Examination||US$25||N/A|
|BJCP Mead Judging Examination||US$15||US$40|
|BJCP Cider Judging Examination||US$15||US$40|
The online entrance examinations also have a 3-for-2 option (three exams for the price of two). Other types of exams do not have a similar discount for multiple attempts.
Payments to the BJCP
Thirty percent of the fee for each exam is designated for expenses related to holding the exam. If there are to be additional expenses such as room rentals or transportation, please get pre-approval from the Exam Director prior to the exam, and if approved, send receipts to the BJCP Treasurer for reimbursement.
The sponsor or administrator, at their discretion, may reduce individual exam fees by waiving a portion of their allotment. This is acceptable as long as the BJCP receives 70% of the nominal fee for each participant.
Examinees should pay the Exam Administrator (if using checks, make them out directly to the Exam Administrator not the BJCP). The Exam Administrator then submits the payment using PayPal directly to the BJCP at 70% of total fees. No cash or checks, please. The PayPal system is for Exam Administrators only; do not advertise this link to examinees.
The BJCP encourages exam administrators to assist proctors with expenses related to travel for the exam. Consider offering gas money to out-of-town proctors using money in the administrative holdback. If proctors are flying or have other large expenses, see our Exam Proctor Reimbursement Policy for details. Exam directors have discretion in approving additional expenses.
Most exam administrators require either a deposit or the entire exam fee well in advance of the exam date as insurance that examinees will show up and sit for the exam. However, since the exam fees are relatively inexpensive for many people, the deposit may not always garner the desired response. Experience by some administrators indicate that a larger deposit (higher than the exam fee) that is refunded only if the examinee sits for the exam may be more effective.
Exam Ownership, Publicity, and Registration
The exam administrator is functioning as an agent of the BJCP in administering the exam, and must follow BJCP policies, rules, and processes.
The exam administrator or sponsor does not own the exam and may not exclude any qualified examinee. In particular, the BJCP does not require examinees to take a training class (especially a third-party paid class), and exam administrators may not reserve seats for specific homebrew clubs, training class participants, or other groups with a relationship to the sponsor or administrator. Exam administrators and sponsors may not charge fees in excess of the listed BJCP fees without prior coordination with the exam director.
The exam administrator is responsible for advertising the availability of seats to potential exam candidates beyond the sponsoring organization. The BJCP will list the sponsor on our exam calendar, but the sponsor or administrator are responsible for registering exam candidates.
The BJCP does not currently have a centralized solution for notifying potential examinees of the availability of exam seats, other than using the BJCP Forum or other social media outlets like the BJCP Facebook page. Exam administrators are encouraged to select methods for notifying potential examinees, even if it means creating a temporary email distribution list. Social media or other modern communication tools may be effective for quick notifications.
Exam Quotas and Registration
The BJCP restricts the maximum number of examinees at individual exam sites, and the exam sites themselves are also constrained. Registering examinees at a given exam site is the responsibility of the exam administrator or sponsor, not the BJCP. Exam sites also have a minimum participant requirement of six candidates for all exams, except that quarterly written exams do not have a minimum.
If the exam administrator gives an exam with fewer than the minimum number of participants without the prior approval from the exam director, the exam administrator may not receive non-judging experience points or grand master service requirement (GMSR) credits for the task. The exam grading for an undersized set may be delayed by three to six months as it is combined with other sets for grading purposes.
It is particularly disappointing to the BJCP when exams are given to less than a full complement of candidates. Exam administrators who repeatedly give exams with unused seats in higher population areas may be denied future exam registration, particularly if exclusionary practices are used to allocate seats.
Managing Seat Limits
Exam sponsors will likely see a strong demand for seats after the exam date is posted on the BJCP exam calendar, and should be prepared to deal with the influx of requests for seats. Exam candidate registration should be done on a first-come, first-serve basis for those who are qualified to take the particular exam. Exclusionary practices should not be used to deny seating to those who are qualified.
For many exam sites, the seats fill rapidly once the exam is posted on the BJCP calendar, but requests for seats will continue to be received. Exam administrators should keep a first-come, first-serve waiting list for those seeking to take the exam. History has shown that some exams experience a drop-out rate greater than 50% as the exam date approaches, so don’t ignore this advice.
First-time exam takers are notorious for waiting as long as possible before taking the online entrance exam (the qualifier for any judging exam). Exam administrators should set a firm deadline well in advance of a judging exam for this qualification to be met so they can start contacting those on the waiting list.
Within the last week or two of the exam, it may be helpful to identify those on the waiting list who are very close to the exam site. If you get a cancellation the day before or the day of the exam, it will be helpful to know those who are ready to take the available seat.
It is also not unusual for an exam administrator to go through ten or twenty names on the waiting list trying to fill open seats. Do not cut off your waiting list just because it seems long. Some eager candidates have shown up at an exam site just in case an open seat was available; do not turn these people away unless you are totally sure you will have a full exam.
An interesting suggestion on handling this problem comes from long-time exam administrator, grader, and Grand Master judge Phil Farrell:
First-time examinees are understandably apprehensive prior to an exam. People are not 100% reliable, and even with deposits and classes, a seat will often go empty without notice. I offer one or two contingency seats or “free practice exams” to those on the waiting list. For tasting exams, I always plan for extra beer to account for spills and refills, so giving samples to one or two additional people is not a problem. If the exam is full, those extra people get to take a real live practice exam for free (I give them a copy of their exam and also grade their scoresheets). I get the peace of mind that 12 people are taking the exam without empty seats, and the extra examinees get a free practice exam and priority registration for the next exam I give. I wouldn’t do this for someone who was trying to improve their score since they would less likely to need the practice.
This approach won’t work for everyone, but offers an alternative for those administrators who are also graders and educators.
Planning for Examinees with Disabilities
When an exam candidate with a disability contacts you to take a BJCP exam, contact the exam director responsible for that exam immediately for guidance. Next, contact the candidate and determine the extent of their disabilities and discuss possible accommodations with the exam director. If a reasonable means of accommodation can be achieved, coordinate the accommodations with the candidate and approve them to sit for the exam.
Examples of physical handicap include dyslexia, carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke, visual imparity, learning disability, or similar physical limitations.
Not every exam administrator will be able to provide the requires accommodations. Space may be a restriction and the other candidates must not be distracted by the accommodations. Additionally, the other candidates must not overhear the description of the appearance section of each examination beverage if they are spoken by an assistant.
Written Exam Accommodations
For a written exam, physical disabilities can generally be accommodated by allowing extra time to complete the exam, allowing the use of electronic support, or allowing the use of some form of transcription. Specific examples of these potential accommodations include:
- Using a computer if writing by hand is part of the handicap.
- Using voice recognition software or other similar type of software.
- Using a transcriber.
- Using an electronic scoresheet.
- Displaying exam materials on a computer monitor using large fonts.
Exam materials may be transferred electronically if a computer is used to complete the essay questions.
Judging Exam Accommodations
For the judging (tasting) exam, physical disabilities can generally be accommodated by allowing the use of electronic support, allowing the use of some form of transcription, or by allowing the use of an assistant. Specific examples of these potential accommodations include:
- Using a computer if writing by hand is part of the handicap.
- Using voice recognition software or other similar types of software.
- Using a transcriber.
- Using an electronic scoresheet.
- Using an assistant. For the visually impaired, the administrator or an assistant can assist the candidate with the appearance portion of each examination beer. Shortly after the delivery of the beer, the administrator or assistant will return and announce their presence. At that point, the candidate must specifically ask for information on the color, clarity, head texture, and head retention. Only the information asked for will be provided; the administrator or assistant will not offer additional information that is not specifically asked for by the candidate.
Planning for Exam Proctors
Contingency planning can avoid having an exam with only one proctor available. Some suggestions include:
- Schedule three proctors just in case one cancels at the last minute.
- Identify an experienced judge from the pre-approved proctor list as a replacement to cover a last-minute proctor cancellation. Contact this person a week before the exam to check their availability if the need arises.
- Have someone other than the exam administrator prepare the exam beverages so that the administrator can step in if all else fails. This is the least desirable option but is better than attempting to use only one qualified proctor.
Planning Exam Beverages
Individual exam types may have unique requirements; see the exam procedures for details. However, in all cases, the exam administrator should work with the assigned exam director for the exam to determine the beverages to be used if additional guidance is needed beyond what is published in the exam procedures.
All beverages need to be handled consistently since inconsistent servings can result in divergent scoring and inconsistent exam results. There can be variation between containers (bottles, cans, or other packages), so all containers should be blended in a pitcher or other large vessel prior to serving into individual glasses. Large exam sites may need to serve from kegs.
Consider enlisting the assistance of helpers to serve the exam beverages. This is particularly important for large exam sites, where it may make sense to have specific helpers dedicated to pouring and others to serving.