I’m Always Happy with Improvement

I took the written and oral components of the Advance Cicerone exam (for the second time) in Dallas in mid-October 2016 (that post is here). In my February 2016 attempt, I got a 78, two points short of passing (read about that here and here). This time I got a 79! Yes, just one point shy. But hey, it’s better than the last time.

So, I have failed the Advanced Cicerone exam twice. I’m not ashamed of that. It’s really difficult. And I won’t be alone, there will be more!

I’ve had several people reach out to me and ask me how it went, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and explain what I’m feeling. I didn’t post anything before even though I got my results in early December. I just turned my brain off for a few months to enjoy the holidays and get the new year started. So now, here’s my take on it…

Sure, I’m disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? I’ve spent a lot of time, work and money on this journey. Coming up short is never easy. But this is just another step on my beer journey, and I’m further along now than when I started.

Overall, my written exam score improved. I brought my beer & food pairing essay up 20 points! That’s the hardest part for me, and I’m thrilled I was able to improve in that area. My written score was an 81, and I’m happy with what I did there. A few more points would be nice, but that’s technically passing. The oral section killed me. I blew both parts this time with an average score of 68. I just wasn’t ready for it. It was the area of the test I was most worried about the morning before the I took it.

I hope to retake the tasting exam sometime in 2017. Even though I “passed” tasting last February, the score of 75 in that area is bringing my overall score down. I need to get my tasting score up in the 80s, and I think I can. I’ve been working hard on my palate and perceptions. In other news, I passed the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tasting test in August and am now a Certified Beer Judge. Also, I’ve recently begun studying and tasting wine to expand my palate and force my brain to think differently about what I taste. Beer will always be my first love.

So why didn’t I pass? It’s simple. I didn’t work hard enough. I should have put in more effort in a few months before. Also, I didn’t get enough rest before going to Dallas. The test day was after a two-week whirlwind trip through fives states. In the 14 days before the exam, I had been on seven flights and slept in nine different beds. Right before Dallas, I was in Denver for five days for the Great American Beer Festival. That was a fantastic time, but not a wise choice right before the big exam. Above all other advice I have for taking the Advanced Cicerone exam, DO NOT GO TO GABF days before attempting it.

Still, I have no complaints. It’s difficult, and I’m glad it is. I know I can pass it, it’s just a matter of when. Honestly, my advice for taking the Advance Cicerone exam is this; double your efforts dedicated to your study plan! You’ll be glad you did.