Studying, Practicing, Failing, Blogging

One of my study strategies as I prepare for the Certified Cicerone┬« Exam is to take practice tests. As an educator myself, I understand the value of a good “dry run” prior to taking the real thing. The Cicerone organization makes a sample exam available on their website, but the study guide I purchased from The Beer Scholar Chris Cohen has three sample exams. I plan on taking the Certified exam in November of this year so I had a goal of taking my first practice exam by March. I’ve been studying non-stop for almost three full months now, so I figured it was time to get a baseline score…to see where I was in my pursuit of certification.

The picture says it all.

I believe the minimal score to pass the Certified exam is 80% overall and at least 70% on the tasting portion. So, with this result…I’m a long way from getting my ‘beer degree.’

As I looked over the results, I found that I was strongest in ‘beer laws and regulations’ [which I was kind of not surprised by since I have taught law previously] but I also did quite well at ‘serving and draft system maintenance’ which I was totally shocked by. Maybe because it was information that was totally new to me, I have studied it the most so far.

The topics I performed the poorest on, I’m ashamed to say, were ‘Beer Styles’ and ‘Off-Flavors.’ Off flavors I can kind of understand as it is a generally new concept to learn and there’s a lot of science/chemistry info there. But BEER STYLES??! I bombed that section quite substantially. On the practice exam, I was frequently given a paragraph description of a beer and asked to name it. Going through this process, I’ve learned that it is one thing to order a style from a menu, taste it, and go ‘oh, yeah…that’s a _______(fill in the blank)’ but to name a style cold based on written descriptors only is something else entirely. It requires detailed knowledge of all things beer–the raw ingredients, the brewing process, the physiology of taste, and more.

The good news here is I have seven more months to study before my November test date. Now that I have undergone this (humiliating) experience, I have undertaken a few more study strategies to help me pass:

1) I downloaded the BJCP app. It is an amazing wealth of info about styles (some of which I have not encountered in my study thus far). One great element is they provide current national examples of each style.

2) I’ve returned to creating infographics. Making infographics is a great way to assimilate large amounts of information. See an upcoming post for my latest infographic–about off flavors.

3) I’ve enrolled in a Cicerone in-person course (on off-flavors, naturally).

4) I’ve dedicated myself to learning more about styles…and that means more visits to the pub! See you at Growler USA!



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