Cider Judge Program

How to Become A Cider Judge

  1. Study for the cider exam and understand the cider judge examination process. The BJCP Education Directorate has created and published several judge training and study programs to assist prospective judges with their studies. 
  2. Pass the BJCP online cider entrance exam. The starting point to become a beer, mead, or cider judge is the same: take and pass the appropriate online entrance exam via Coursewebs. The entrance exams screen prospective candidates via multiple-choice, true/false, and multiple answer question types. The online cider entrance exam contains 100 questions over 30 minutes. Online exams can be taken once per day, but we suggest taking time to study before retaking after a failed attempt. Passing an online exam allows an examinee to register for a judging exam (see step 3 below), but does not grant membership in the BJCP
    • NOTE: Once you pass an online entrance exam, you only have one year to sit for a cider judging exam (see step 3 below). Because cider judging exams are scheduled less frequently than beer judging exams, we strongly recommend that you secure a spot to take an exam before passing the online exam. Otherwise, if you cannot find an open exam seat within a year, you will have to retake the online exam. 
  3. Pass the BJCP cider judging exam. This is a practical tasting exam of judging six ciders in a competition-like setting. Passing this exam grants membership in the BJCP and awards the cider judge rank (for new judges) or cider judge endorsement (for existing judges). 
    • Tips to register for an exam: Search the BJCP Exam Calendar for a cider exam that you can attend. Contact the exam administrator to inquire if there are open exam seats. If there are, ask to secure a seat and pay any exam fees to the exam administrator. Once you have secured an exam seat, take and pass the online cider entrance exam sometime during the 12 months preceding your exam date. Note that some exam administrators may require the online exam certificate before securing an exam seat or may set a deadline to pass the online exam to keep your exam seat. 

The BJCP Cider Exams

There is no prerequisite for taking the BJCP Cider Entrance Exam. The exam is open to BJCP judges and those not in the BJCP. Passing the BJCP Cider Entrance Exam is a prerequisite for taking the BJCP Cider Judging Exam. Anyone who passes the BJCP Cider Judging Exam will receive a BJCP Cider Judge pin and certificate. Cider Exams do not count towards program (rank) advancement. An existing BJCP judge may not advance in rank based on the score received on the BJCP Cider Judging Exam. Non-BJCP members passing the BJCP Cider Judging Exam may not advance in rank without taking the BJCP Beer Exam. 

Cider Entrance Exam Detail

Questions on the BJCP Cider Entrance Exam cover the following topics:

  • The BJCP Cider Program
  • BJCP judging procedures and ethics
  • Cider Balance and Style Attributes
  • Varietal Apple & Pear Identification and Usage
  • Non-Apple & Pear Ingredients in Cider
  • Identifying/Troubleshooting Cider Characteristics and Faults
  • Cider Making and Process Control
  • Cider Faults and Troubleshooting
  • Judging Scenarios

Cider Judging Exam Details

Examinees will judge six ciders as in a competition using variants of the standard scoresheet, with the scoresheets evaluated on the basis of scoring accuracy, perception, descriptive ability, feedback and completeness. Exam ciders judged should include varieties outlined in the Cider Judging Examination Procedures document.

The Cider Judge Designation

To support the Cider Judge Exam program, a new Cider Judge designation was created. This designation is treated differently depending on whether or not the person passing the Cider Exam is already a member of the BJCP.

  • For existing BJCP judges, the designation is called an endorsement. Judges continue to hold their existing BJCP ranks, and otherwise operate within the program in the same manner as before. They may refer to themselves as Cider Judges, but their rank is still based on their beer exam score.
  • For those who have not taken the BJCP Beer Exam, the designation will be the judge’s rank. Non-BJCP members passing the exam become active BJCP judges, get assigned a BJCP ID, may accumulate experience points, and have all other rights, privileges, and responsibilities due an active BJCP member.
  • For existing BJCP Mead judges the Cider Judge designation is an additional rank.

Those passing the BJCP Beer Exam use a graduated system of rank levels that depends on exam score and experience points. Those only passing the BJCP Cider Exam use the Cider Judge rank exclusively. Those having passed the BJCP Mead Exam and the BJCP Cider Exam may use either the Mead Judge or Cider Judge rank. All groups of judges are full BJCP members. The Cider and Mead Judge ranks differs from the Beer Judge ranks (Apprentice through Grand Master) in that there is only one Cider or Mead Judge rank level – no advancement in rank is possible without taking the BJCP Beer Exam.

Note that there are not different types of judging experience points; no distinction is made whether they are earned judging mead, beer, or cider. Any judging experience within the BJCP system develops skills and experience, and is recorded on the BJCP judge’s judging record. So, experience points gained while holding the Cider Judge rank can be used towards advancing in the Beer Judge ranks once the BJCP Beer Exam is taken. An existing BJCP judge with the Cider Judge endorsement will obviously continue to earn experience points as before; no changes in the rank system are made because of the endorsement.

The criterion for the Cider Judge designation is simply to pass the Cider Judging Exam (i.e., receive a score of 60 or higher) after passing the Cider Entrance Exam. No experience points are required. All who pass the Cider Judging Exam may check the Cider Judge checkbox on the BJCP Scoresheets and may wear the BJCP Cider Judge pin. Distinctive Cider Judge pins and attractive certificates are provided by the BJCP to all who pass the exam. Existing BJCP judges passing the Cider Entrance and Judging Exams should check the appropriate BJCP Rank checkbox on a BJCP Scoresheet in addition to the Cider Judge checkbox.

Existing BJCP judges who pass the Cider Judging Exam will receive Education and Training Directorate (ETD) credits, which are non-judging experience points on their judging records. ETD points are awarded based on the overall Cider Judging Exam score (0.5/1/1.5/2 points for a score of 60/70/80/90). Judges may receive the ETD credit once for each type of exam (mead or cider). Judges retaking the Cider Judging Exam will be given ETD credit based on their highest score.


The BJCP Board approved a wide-ranging proposal in March 2006 to incorporate Mead and Cider fully into the BJCP’s programs. This proposal created the Mead and Cider Committee and directed the creation of a Cider Judge Exam, program, and all related materials.