Exam Program Overview

The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Exam Directorate administers the BJCP Exam Program, which is the gateway into the organization for new members and a mechanism to gain higher rank for existing members. While the BJCP once only gave a single comprehensive written and tasting exam in English for beer judges, the current exam program uses a tiered exam system with exams for beer, mead, and cider.

The BJCP supports exams given in English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Simplified Chinese. Support for other languages is under consideration.

Exam Programs 

The BJCP currently administers three examination programs:

How to become a judge

  1. Study for the certification you wish to pursue (beer, mead, or cider) and become familiar with the 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 entrance exam for the certification you wish to pursue (beer, mead, or cider). 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 beer entrance exam contains 180 questions over 60 minutes, the online mead entrance exam contains 200 questions over 60 minutes, and 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 two years to sit for a judging exam (see step 3 below). We 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 may have to retake the online exam. 
  3. Pass the BJCP judging exam for the certification you wish to pursue (beer, mead, or cider). This is a practical tasting exam of judging six beverages in a competition-like setting. Passing this exam grants membership in the BJCP and awards standard certification levels of either Recognized beer judge, Certified beer judge, mead judge, or cider judge. 
    • Tips to register for an exam: Search the BJCP Exam Calendar for an 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 appropriate online 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. 

Exam Topics

The examinations cover:

  • Technical aspects of production, ingredients, production processes, and possible faults.
  • World beer, mead, or cider styles, including characteristics, history, ingredients, and production techniques.
  • The purpose of the BJCP and the criteria for the judging ranks.
  • Judging procedures and ethics.

For more detailed information, please review the appropriate sections for the specific type of exam (beer, mead, or cider). If you have additional questions, please contact the  BJCP Exam Directors.

Exam Study Resources 

The BJCP Education Directorate has created and published several judge training and study programs to assist prospective judges with their studies. Study guides have also been published for the beer, mead, and cider exams. 

How to become a higher-ranked beer judge

The BJCP uses a tiered rank system for beer judges, but also has ranks for mead and cider judges. Ranks are determined by the exams taken, the highest scores on those exams, and the amount of experience points earned. 

Standard Beer Judge Ranks

The beer judge ranks of Recognized and Certified can be obtained after passing the online beer entrance exam and the beer judging exam in the process described in the “how to become a judge” section above.

  • Recognized rank is awarded to judges with a score of 60-69 on the judging exam OR to judges with a score of 70+ who have earned fewer than 5 experience points*.
  • Certified rank is awarded to judges with a score of 70 or higher on the judging exam after earning 5 experience points.

Advanced Beer Judge Ranks

Beer judges who score an 80 or higher on the beer judging exam (and have earned 10 judging points) are eligible to take the BJCP Beer Written Proficiency Exam to reach National or Master Beer Judge ranks. The scores from the judging exam and written exam are averaged to create a composite score.

  • National beer judge rank is earned with a composite score of 80-89 and 20 experience points (with at least 10 points from judging).
  • Master beer judge rank is earned with a composite score of 90+ and 40 experience points (with at least 20 points from judging).

Current National rank judges can retake either the beer judging or written exam to improve their composite score and attempt to earn the 90+ composite score needed for Master rank. Certified or Recognized judges who took the BJCP Beer Legacy Examination prior to April 2012 qualify to sit for the written exam if they received an 80% or higher on the tasting portion of the legacy exam format and have 10 judging points. 

The Grand Master Beer Judge rank has the same exam score requirement as Master rank, but requires 100 experience points and an additional “Grand Master Service Requirement” to the BJCP such as points earned from grading exams (see the Grand Master Service Requirement rules for details).  

*All experience point rank requirements require at least half of the total experience points to be earned from judging. 

Mead and Cider Judge Ranks and Endorsements

BJCP judges who take the mead or cider exams without becoming a beer judge will have the rank of either Mead Judge or Cider Judge. There are no levels of mead or cider judge ranks; however, mead or cider judges who score 80 or higher on the judging exam are qualified to proctor mead or cider exams, respectively. Beer judges who pass the mead or cider exams will retain their current beer judge rank and earn the mead judge or cider judge endorsement to complement their beer judge rank. 

Exam Administrator Resources 

National or higher ranked BJCP judges can request to schedule a BJCP beer, mead, cider, or written exam by following the Scheduling Procedures. Exam administrators can find information and tips about how to hold an exam in the Exam Administrator Guide. Exam forms such as exam scoresheets, proctor sheets, and so forth can be found here. We also maintain lists of approved exam proctors to assist in recruiting approved proctors for judging exams. 

Exam Grader Resources

Any BJCP judge of National or higher rank is eligible to become an exam grader. To volunteer send an email to the Exam Directors with your name and BJCP ID. Exam grading resources include: