I recently finished grading a set of BJCP taste exams which had been kicking me in the pants for far too long. I know the examinees are probably not reading this blog, but if you are waiting for your results from your late July exam, I may just be what was holding you up. I will say it is much easier to grade a score sheet than a long page of paragraphs which may not all be in the same format.

My MO with taste exams is to always first compile the comments of the proctors onto the second round score sheet. That is a little time-consuming since their score sheets are longer and more involved. I believe that took about 10-15 minutes per beer to complete, so let’s call it 1.5 hours.

In the past I would use an excel spreadsheet to compile the data and had it setup to provide additional information which could be filled into the RTP (report to participant). In this case I graded straight into the EGF (exam grading form) and that worked out to be a good call. Now what the EGF doesn’t do is compile the information from the first and second grader to give an average to allow you to fill in the shading on the RTP. I believe I spent a good half hour just figuring out how to get that information together. So grading is straightforward, take the proctor sheets and mark the examinee sheets beer by beer. So if the first beer is say an Oktoberfest, grade all the exams for the Oktoberfest beer with a highlighter and then go back and award a score for each. The reason to grade all is it could be a substantial number of the examinees found an aroma or flavor missed or overlooked by the proctors. That grading took about 5-10 minutes per beer per examinee by the time all were graded and then entered into the EGF. So if you have 12 examinees, expect to spend  a minimum of one hour per beer to two hours per beer. With six beers that could be 12 hours in total.

Now the RTP really cannot be written until a consensus score is reached between the graders. The time involved is typically not long to reach consensus, but requires both graders to be completed with the grading duties. In my case the second grader finished long before I did and so he was waiting on me. We easily reached a consensus and while it does take small chunks of time, in reality it’s not much, let’s say an hour in total writing emails and adjusting scores.

So now we need to write the RTP. In order to do so you need the information from the first and second grader in a format where you can determine performance of the examinees based on BJCP judge rankings. I use a spreadsheet for that and as I said earlier it took a half hour to an hour to get that together. Then you start to write the RTP and they take about 30 minutes to an hour per RTP. So with 12 examinees you would be looking at a potential of 12 hours. Once they are written the second grader can review and that won’t take long and it won’t take long to tweak the exams.

So adding it all up at the worst it would be 26 to 27 hours or 2 to 2.5 hours per exam. Shorter than it once was, but still no cake walk. So before you get worried about your exam, try to think where you would find 30 hours of time to spend in your life and for goodness sake if you are a National or higher judge volunteer to grade some sweet, sweet exams!