I keep telling myself one day I will finally retake the written exam and since I was recently grading a set of exams I thought it might be useful to discuss a strategy examinees could use. There are 20 T/F and five questions on the written exam. The T/F can only count against you and the five other questions are where you can really show what you know, or crash and burn. The exam is a total of 90 minutes so one of the first things you must manage is time. The T/F questions are all listed in the Study Guide so read and memorize the answers and you will not lose any points on the exam. I would suggest you spend no more than 5 minutes on the T/F which would provide you with 17 min for the other questions.
There will be two style questions with three styles which you must describe the AAFM, identify an aspect of the ingredients or history, provide three classic commercial examples, and finally provide a similarities/differences discussion. You can earn 40% for AAFM, 25% for the aspect, 10% for the three classics, and 25% for the similarities/differences. Pay attention to the percentages and don’t spend too much time on any particular section. There are a couple of strategies for the 17 minutes spent here you can look at it as three styles and divide the 17/3 = ~5.7 per style, or break it up into percentages which would suggest you spend 6.8 minutes on the AAFM or 0.57 minutes per any one of the sections, 4.25 minutes on the aspect, the same on the similarities/differences, and 1.7 on the classic commercial examples. I’d suggest the latter strategy would be one which would end horribly. You should be able to jot down the three classic examples as fast as you can write. The AAFM will catch the grader’s eye and just be sure to do well on the aspect and the similarities/differences. I think you are better off thinking of it is 5 minutes each style and then you have a little time for cleanup.
There will be a recipe question. The styles are covered in the Study Guide. 10% of the question is the stats and these stats should meet the recipe you post and also fall within the parameters of the style guidelines. 20% is batch size, grains, hops, etc. and the amounts should work out to meet the stats you posted first. 35% is mash, boil, fermentation, packaging, etc. and don’t forget any aspect. The last 35% is how the recipe meets style and IMO it is a good idea to list every single AAFM and how what you did will create the style. A good extra credit addition is the classic commercial example.
The last two questions will be taken from page 37 and 38 of the Study Guide and have various point values. Be sure to address every portion to maximize the points. Perhaps as I study I will offer more insight into these areas. You still have 17 minutes per question and generally graders look more leniently on these two questions then on missteps in the recipe or style sections because they know time is limited.
So if you are studying for the written exam try to be as descriptive as possible, but remember some of the topics have had several books written about them so you’ll never completely cover the topic in 17 minutes. What you should do is use the Study Guide to set you on your path and then research the topic to expand on that information to maximize your score. It’s a tough exam and that’s why I’ve only attempted it on two occasions. There’s only one more step left for me, and I am sure I know the information, the issue is being able to get that on paper in the allotted time.