For most of August 2009, the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam had been the focus of all of my mental energy. Frankly, it got to the point that I became sick of studying wine, which is probably a natural reaction when the test date looms and efforts to do some last-minute cramming redouble. What was really killing me, however, was (1) a general fear of failure and (2) not knowing what to expect from the test itself. Looking back, I probably could’ve avoided some of this general anxiety if I had spent a couple hundred bucks to become a paid member of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), the trade organization that oversees the CSW exam.

Hey, I’m cheap. Plus, the testing fees themselves, about $400 or so, were part of a scholarship that I had won earlier this year. Therefore, I was reluctant to pay anything out of pocket, even if an SWE membership might’ve helped me prepare for the test itself. It wasn’t entirely logical, I admit, but it was the principle of the matter. Long story short, an SWE membership would have entitled me to a full 100-question practice exam, along with some other study modules that could’ve possibly streamlined my efforts. In hindsight, these materials would’ve saved me some grief, but now that the exam is successfully behind me, I certainly don’t foster any regrets about not spending that loot.

• • •

Although I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the CSW exam, I did know a few statistics about the test, which I had gleaned from the SWE website: Namely, a 75% represented a passing score, but only 65% of the folks who sit for the exam will achieve this mark on their first attempt. Knowing that almost one-third of CSW candidates will fail the CSW exam offered me very little comfort. Even worse, the idea of paying $400 to retake the test was especially repugnant. So there I was, in limbo: Too cheap to pay for any CSW practice materials, and also a little unnerved at the idea of failing the exam.

Having searched “CSW exam” on the internet, I began to read about other people’s experiences with the test. I discovered that some people were spending the better part of a year studying, while I had only been in study mode for about one month. There were also blog comments from people who were taking the exam, attesting to the great accomplishment a passing mark represented, offering a hearty congratulations to those people who had already earned their certification. After a while, I began to wonder if the exam was going to be even more challenging than I had suspected. With the CSW just over one week away, I had a moment of panic.

Then, I resolved to make it all a non-issue, by committing as much time and effort as possible to studying. What other choice did I have? I condensed the 200-page CSW study guide into a svelte 55-page document of key bullet points, and then proceeded to internalize the entire thing through brutally repetitious reading. After considerable effort, I could list Germany’s 19 winegrowing regions, in order from west to east, as they follow the path of the Rhine River. I could also name all 36 DOCG wines of Italy, along with their respective regions, permitted grape varietals, barrel regimens, and everything else. I had memorized similar information about France, Austria, Australia, Argentina, and a host of other countries. It was mind-numbing, to say the least.

• • •

As it turns out, a solid three-quarters of my effort was completely unnecessary, at least for the CSW exam. The day before the test, during the eight-hour review session, my instructor rattled off a litany of items that wouldn’t be covered on the CSW exam. Many of these things were some of the more obscure items that I had already studied. But even though I had spent considerable time and energy memorizing way more facts than necessary, I was frankly relieved. After a month of stress, I actually breezed through the test, and ended up with a 95 for my efforts. Next up is the CWE exam, which is a much more rigorous test (with a slim 12% pass rate for first-time candidates, I’m not a fan of those odds). Anyhow, since other folks have offered their perspective on the introductory-level CSW, I will offer my own outlook:

First of all, I think the CSW only has a 65% pass rate because many people who take the test are, ironically, not that interested in wine. I learned that many of the folks who take this test do so under a corporate sponsorship, meaning that big companies like Southern Wine and Spirits will typically put all of their employees through this program. I’m certainly not knocking SWS for educating its staff, but there are going to be a good number of SWS employees who don’t have a specific enthusiasm for wine. For them, wine is just the commodity they happen to be peddling. Therefore, this bare statistic — the 65% pass rate — lacks some context.

Even among the group of folks who were taking the CSW along with me, I heard some of them mention that they fought and avoided this certification as long they could. Even though they were employed in the wine industry, their heart simply wasn’t in it. For them, studying wine might as well have been like studying history or accounting. This attitude is bound to have an effect on performance, and I’m pretty sure that these people will most likely comprise the 35% who fail the exam (especially if their company is going to pay for their re-test in a few months, anyhow). Therefore, for those who are genuinely interested in wine, I think the pass rate increases dramatically.

The CSW exam is just a multiple-choice test, like any other. Whatever kind of success you have had with multiple choice tests in the past, it’s probably going to be just about the same for the CSW. Personally, I’ve always found multiple choice tests to be a little easier than other test formats, just because you can eliminate choices and take educated guesses when necessary. Plus, with multiple choice tests, you’re not committed to know the answer, so much as you have to simply recognize the answer. There is a huge difference between these two scenarios, and this format should work in your favor.

However, if you have a difficult track record with tests, then give yourself as much time as you need to become familiar with the material. I’m convinced that given the multiple-choice format of the CSW, one month of conscientious studying is enough preparation time for the average wine enthusiast to score better than 75% (again, you’re more likely to retain the material if you have a genuine interest in what you’re studying). So, if you really don’t do well with tests, or wine just happens to be your job at the moment, then allow yourself more study time.

If you feel like you simply don’t have enough prep time, join the SWE to get the study modules and the practice test. As I had mentioned at the outset, this tip is something that would’ve helped me reduce my efforts. Having a keen sense of the actual difficulty of the CSW exam will help you streamline your approach to studying. Had I seen the practice test beforehand, I would’ve studied less material. The CSW itself is randomly generated from a pool of about 1500 questions (the 100 selected questions are then reviewed for balance and fairness). Under this system, there is a decent chance that a few of the practice questions may reappear on the actual CSW exam. If you’re really under the gun, three or four repeat questions could turn a 73% into a 76%.

67 comments to Society of Wine Educators: Tips for the CSW Exam

  • Nancy

    Thank you for writing about this… I am considering taking this after the Certified Sommelier certification. Do you know what the CSW “Preview” is, usually the day before the exam? Do we have to take that in order to take the exam?

  • ThirstyReader

    No, I don’t think the preview is necessary to take the CSW exam, but it did help for me to realize that I had been over-studying. The preview is essentially an eight-hour review session, but since it’s the day before the test, candidates should have already done most of their studying by that point.

  • Jason

    Thanks for the info. Is this something that you can belly up to at night or is this really hardcore, nose to the book type of studying? I will take this in Feb. and will read the guide but would love to have bullet points. Any help from someone who has been there is welcomed.

  • ThirstyReader

    I’d say that I approached the CSW pretty seriously for the month leading up to it. But at the same time, I didn’t have to take any time off from my full-time day job to study. So I would say that you could definitely just study at night, as long as that’s the priority for most evenings. I’d say that I probably studied 80 hours all together.

  • CertifiedSomm

    Concerning the Preview portion, the SWE considers this more of a preliminary overview than a review: they suggest you use the preview to help you understand what you’re getting into & plan accordingly.

    Folks I’ve spoken to who have done the CSW as well as Court of MS and/or WSET say that CSW tests a different skill set or knowledge base than those two other programs –in other words, success in those certifications doesn’t necessarily mean you can just waltz into this exam & pass. (That’s not what I wanted to hear, either…)

    You can order the study guide without setting a date for the exam, so what I plan to do is 1) order & review study guide; 2) decide whether or not I need the Preview, then 3) if necessary do Preview, if not then go directly to 4) study, schedule & sit for exam.

    The SWE Director of Education, Terri L. Hamilton, CWE, DWS is very helpful and easy to talk to. She’s at (303)359-6946 if you have questions.

  • Lauren

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for putting your thoughts down about the CSW exam. I have been pondering back and forth on taking this exam, and actually biting the bullet to do it. I have so much passion for wine, I already know quite a bit about wine…but want to have a specialized education to back me up for stabalizing my dream in a career in this industry. After reading what you had to say, I now have the courage to purchase the study guide, go at my own pace, and take the exam when I feel comfortable enough and prepared. Thanks for the extra bullet notes too, this will help so much I have a feeling.

  • josh solomon

    Hi, Thirsty reader, thanks for the infor, really appreciate it. I am from Singapore, just sign up to take the exam on 12NOV, self-study. Will provide you any updates

  • Crystal

    I was very interested in your article, but am dissappointed that the link to your CSW study guide did not work. Is it still available?

  • Thirsty Reader

    This might be a good time to mention my recent cease-and-desist letter. Naturally, I complied. So sorry. This was just a couple days ago.

    I’m sure you’ll do fine on the test without my study guide, just by the fact that you asked about my study guide. It’s the folks who aren’t looking for the study guides who fail. Good luck!

  • josh solomon CS

    Hi, Thirsty reader. I am presently studying for my CSW exam. Any tips on how to memorise the AVAs of USA, Thanks

  • Todd Alleman CSW, CSS

    Hi, Thirsty Reader.
    I just wanted to say thanks for your condensed CSW study guide. I used it throughout my studying and it helped tremendously, along with a lot of studying. I’m sorry to see the “cease-and-desist”. Hopefully, others will be able to utilize your tips for their studying and successfully pass. My advice to those taking the exam is to study consistently and just relax when reading the questions on the exam. Thanks, to you again…up next for me, 2011, is the French Wine Scholar certification. Love your site, especially for me, since I am a New Orleanian…
    Happy Thanksgiving

  • Shannon

    Recently ordered and received my CSW study guide. Quite honestly, I’m overwhelmed at the amount of information in the guide. I’m scared to take the test! I have a passion for wine, but I’ve never been vrey good at retention and studying, so I’m a little nervous. I have no set test date as of yet.

    Glad to find this website 🙂

  • Micheale

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this information and the feedback thoughts of the other readers. I, too, have been back and forth on what program to continue my educations efforts with and decided on signing up for the CSW course. I passed the Introductory Level for Court Master, but was not sure how it would compare to the CSW exam. I feel much more confident on what to expect now. Sorry to hear I am too late to get a copy of your condensed study notes.

  • Jenna

    Thank you for the tips, taking the test in a month. Love to be able to take a look at your condensed Study Guide but I cannot view it. Please let me know if there is some way to review it, thank you again!

  • Thirsty Reader

    @Jenna: Unfortunately, my study guide earned a cease-and-desist letter from the SWE. The letterhead from their attorneys was so fancy, I knew I’d better comply. Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do fine!

  • jc

    Do you still have your condensed version of the study guide or your flashcards, please email. Thank you. Joanne

  • SFSomm

    I am a certified somm, but also took the CSW, and I have to tell you, I thought it was laughable. It felt like a 101 level prep test. If you have been in the wine business more than a year you should be able to pass. It angered me to a certain degree that people can take this exam, put CSW after their name and go out and sell themselves as “experts”. Just because you know that Knights Valley is in Sonoma and TBA is dry, doesn’t make you qualified to teach, OR sell to the wine savvy consumer.

  • Anonymous

    This message is intended for the SFSomm:
    Dear Sir or Madame,
    YOU are the exact reason that so many people within the wine industry are considered pompous, arrogant and snobish. Instead of degrading the people who are genuinely interested in educating themselves regarding wine and volunteering to sit through a comprehensive exam, why don’t you encourage? This is your target customer, for all practical purposes, that patronize your establishment. Don’t hide behind your “SFSomm” title…let all of us know who you really are so that WE as a group can decide not to spend money in your restaurant.

  • Hi- great article! I took the entry level somm course through the court of Master Sommeliers about a year ago. They don’t tell you the score, but I felt like I did well- I’d been in the industry for about 5 years and it was my first exam. However, I feel that the next level, which tests you on proper service, is not the way I’d like to interact with customers, and not a restaurant where it would be required is not the atmosphere I’d like to work in. I know that ultimately it is up to the somm’s disgression how stuffy to be, but it seems like that’s the kind of thing that turns people(esp novice drinkers who may spook easily by a perceived pompitude) off. So my point is that I’d like to continue my wine education, but in a direction that tests less the service and more knowledge- regions, terroir, history, DNA and whatnot. Is the CSW up my alley? I’m off to England for several months- do you recommend any outfits over there for certification? Also, I tried the link for your study guide and it said what I was looking for wasn’t there.

    Thanks again for the great article.

  • mlle.mashimaro

    What happened to the study guide?

  • KW

    Can I still get the condensed study guide? I am about 30 days away from my exam and I want to be as prepared as possible! You are the best!

  • Thirsty Reader

    Unfortunately, I got a cease and desist for that Study Guide…

  • Marilyn

    Hi there,
    I paid the $400 for the study guide and I take my CSW exam in 2 weeks. You are so right about getting to the point of exhaustion in regards to the mention of wine. I’ve been taking it slow, but I know it has come to the point of having some fear and hoping I do well as I don’t wish to wait another year to take the test over again.
    Thank you for your insight, was so disappointed your study guide was gone! That would have been terrific!

  • Blake

    Stumbled upon this site (got lucky I guess). For what it’s worth. I took my CSW test last month (July) and failed with a 73. Discouraged!…No, though I’ve been in the industry for over 10yrs (restaurant & retail) this test is a little humbling. I’ve been asked if I was a Somm throughout my years at the restaurant level, so my knowledge did hold some weight with my customers, even though I not a Somm. I studied for about 40hrs, with many distractions. For those who are considering taking this test, you’ll need more knowledge other than the study guide and lesson plans to pass in my opinion. Even though I failed the first time, I’m more committed to the cause and I’m shootin’ for 90%+ next test. Hey SFSOMM! If you project knowledge and professionalism, and your customers trust you and keep coming back, then you are an expert no matter what level of knowledge you have or don’t. What was your score SFSOMM? BTW… this test helped me pass 1st level somm, that was offered to me a week before the class and test, not much time to study for it, but I passed. Silver lining I’d like to think.

  • Todd

    Thank you for the article and comments. Good background and study tips for those looking for CSW certification. Good Luck to all who look to learn more about the world of wine. BTW…pretty funny how SFSomm, the self-proclaimed “expert”, thinks a TBA is dry. Hilarious…when, in fact, it is the sweetest of all German pradikats and among the greatest sweet dessert wines of the world :)D Cheers.

  • Winecaptain

    Recently took the exam and am awaiting the results. I hope that I passed. I will say that at least 50 of the 100 questions were relatively easy (would expect that I was 95%+ on them) and straight forward. Most people with a resonable amount of studying would score at that level. Then there were about 25-30 that were difficult and relatively obscure from the study guide (they were published, but not in bold or even things that you would focus on). I would expect that I scored 60-70% on them. Finally there were about 20 that I would call truly obscure and not on my radar at all. Several had 2 answers that appeared correct and were actually correct when I looked them up. You had to make a guess as to which was the answer that they were looking for. All in all, it is a multiple choice test, but I would suggest looking at things that are more obscure and not really relevant to one’s actual wine knowledge. ie… Wines from the Franken region are sold in what type of bottle? brown, green, flask, or clear. I am not sure how relevant this is in the grand scheme of things (by the way Flask is the correct answer). I would think that the 1855 classification (which was not on my test at all) is far more relevant to the wine industry (just a personal opinion). All the best to everyone studying!

  • shannon

    Taking my CSW Exam in a couple of weeks in LA (12/10) Scared to death. Don’t really want to take this over again, especially when so many people are counting on me passing. Not in the wine industry, but plan on working in the Paso Robles area next year and hope this will be a basis for a better job. I have been studying since February and still panic over not knowing some of the non-relevant stuff.
    Thanks for everyone’s help. SFSOMM…even I knew the TBA answer.

  • m-anonymous

    I took the exam in Fall 2011 and passed with a score of 89%. I basically read the study guide over and over again.

  • shannon

    WoooHooo! Passed with a 92! Did not think I did that well. What a relief. I don’t think the pass rate was very good as many of the people I talked to before the exam had only just started studying. I took everyone’s advice on how to study for this. I was surprised at some of the questions going, “really?” Sure I missed those. Everyone was right..this was not an easy exam…at all! Someone said, “study the minutia.” Glad I took that seriously. Your new CCSW (onward)

  • Angela

    Hello all,

    I am currently considering taking the CSW exam at some point in the future. I am wondering if anyone has a used SWE study guide they are willing to sell me or if anyone knows where I can obtain a used study guide rather than spending the $$$ for a brand new one–since I am not currently in the wine industry and am not sure when I will be prepared to take the exam. I am doing this for personal fulfillment.

    Thanks in advance!


  • Steve Thompson

    If you would like some (free) practice quizzes, check out The Bubbly Professor’s Website…they are tough and help a lot!!

  • Corkpuller

    I sit here with a broken ankle and out of work for the next 10 weeks. The good news is the time to study and the offer to cover the cost buy my family. Who have been suggesting I become officially certified. I have been passionately involved in the restaurant and wine business for over 25 years. I have trained staff and given playful instruction (avoiding pompous approaches) on wine and food to staff, wine clubs and friends hundreds of times. I have been a wine director for several fine family owned restaurants dealing with wonderful successful wine and sprits reps who gave me excellent insight and knowledge of wine and food. Some have been certified and some not. I yield to all who are “geeked” on wine (which is great) for they will know way more about the specific nuances of the hundreds if not thousands of personally selected favorite wines and regions. I have work for and sat on rock in a vineyard and philosophically discussed the poetry and passion of wine and food with Robert Mondavi as well as some of the leading experts in our field.
    My question to all of you is if you were to take just one certification other than Master Certification what official wine certification do you find to be the most respected within our wine industry? Is it the CSW,CMS or another one?

  • shannon

    CSW seems to be the one!

  • Sarah

    Do the online study guides through SWE contain the same/equal amount of information that the written study guides do? I find that it is easier for me to learn the material with the online study guide because of the checkpoints that it offers along the way. I would like to continue down this route without reading the written chapters, unless I realize that I will be missing necessary information for the exam. Please advise =)

  • shannon mansfield

    I hate to give you the news, but EVERYTHING on the exam comes from the Study Guide, not the on-line academy. One of the folks from SWE told me that she often gets e-mails from people who have not passed the exam indicating how disppointed they were because they had done so well on all of those exams. She told me that nothing would come from there and on my exam, she was correct. All of the exams are different, but I had nothing from the on-line academy. In fact, some of the information differs…that is why I called them at one point. Was told to stick with the Study Guide and that is what I did. I passed, but our pass rate was really low only because folks were relying on the on-line exams. I didn’t even bother with the CSW on-line exam as it was just a review. Glad I did not do that. Know your maps. Be able to close your eyes and recognize all of the important wine areas; red/white important grapes; hot or cold temperatures for growth. Rivers in Germany…CA wines and wine laws of US. As one person who was helping me said…know the minutia. Good luck and really know the Study Guide. You will do fine!

  • Sarah

    Okay! Glad I asked that sooner rather than later…. Do you think 21 weeks is enough time to absorb all of the material? With a fulltime job….

  • shannon

    I also had to study while working full time. It took me a year to study and retain…but if you are already in the wine industry, it may not take you that long. I studied every free moment I had and on the weekends/nights. Just divide the book up so that you have time to finish and review. The book that goes with the Study Guide that has all the questions was a HUGE help and alot of the answers came right out of that book. Good luck…you will do great!

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for the insight!

  • Eliot

    Angela, I have a study guide that I’d like to sell. Bought it, but am not going to take the test. Let me know if you are interested. Got the map CD-ROM and practice test. Brand new – unused condition.

  • Angela

    Hi Eliot,

    How much would you sell your materials for? Why did you decide not to take the test if I might ask?

    Thank You!


  • Arizona Wino

    If you are taking the CSW or the CWE or anything form the Society of wine educators, whatever you do, study up on New York wines. When I took the csw a few weeks ago there were two questions on new york. I thought that was weird. Then my friend took the cwe and told me their were two new york questions on his test as well. And he has to do a presentation on new york wines to pass another part of the test. It seems swe is on the take from the new york wine commission!

  • Wine-Know

    Weird stuff. My CSW test had two New York questions. Sure I missed them both. Who givesw a shiz about NY wines.

  • Grego

    SWS does not pay for the exam except in their largest markets (Chicago, NYC, LA, Vegas) and more than likely only when they first arrive on the scene in that market.

  • Yvonne

    Thank you for your comments. I am studying for the CSW Exam now for an Oct exam date and am overwhelmed to say the least. I would love to have your flash cards and condensed version of the study guide. Please email to me. Thank you! Yvonne

  • Ruth Valdez

    Yvonne, you really should check out the website known as the Bubbly Professor. She has dozens of quizzes and hundred of flashcards for wine (and specifically CSW) study.

  • WineRep

    Just took the CSW last Friday and highly recommend it. I’ve read a lot of complaints about the test on this blog (hey, your all entitled to your opinion). I had a good experience with the test and no New York questions! But you all please study your geography and your grapes. I hope I passed but am now in waiting mode.

  • stefny

    how long does it take to receive results?


    I took the exam in Feb 2012 and received the results three weeks later.

  • Hiya,

    I am just curious whether it’s okay to use last year’s study guide for this year’s test. I’m not sure if it matters or if the study guide stays pretty much the same, year to year. I have a friend who said she’d hand it over to me. 🙂 Thanks!

  • The Accidental Wino

    I’m sure it’s fine at the CSW level. The guide may change very slightly if, for instance, Italy adds some new DOCGs one year. However, these sorts of details are too minor and too few to affect the test.

  • shannon

    I agree!! I can’t imagine that the book will change that much for one year. Good luck. The best piece of advice that I got when I took this test was to be able to close your eyes and see each Country map. Know where the appellations are; what grapes and what types of wines are made. know mountains and rivers. This really helped me a lot. : )

  • Frustrated Wine Man

    Hi,just took the CSW on February 21st, 2013. A letter postmarked February 22 arrived a few days later telling me I scored a 72.

    I started reading the study guide starting last June with more serious studying about 3 months ago with a blitz (2-6 hours a day) during the four weeks prior to the test.

    My focus was to know the book especially the maps, practive tests, and flash cards that I made for troublesome subjects (mostly non-English speacking countires).

    I could have performed better but got bogged down while taking the test with many questions that I had not seen on any practice tests. The amount of words on about half of the questions were much more complicated than practive tests. I was not able to reveiw my answers within the hour due to poor time management. About 50% of the questions were from various practice tests….I made a point not to rush through the familiar questions (from practice tests).

    Will take it again but with these additional study items: spend more time on France and Italy….those two countries amonted to about 15 questions. Will break up the countries in chunks vs. whole countries. I will also utilize the various flashcards that are available (esp. Miss Bubbly Professor-best source for tests, etc….I stayed away from prepared flashcards thinking that they were too detailed and made my own.

    During the next test, I will speed up my pace so that there are 10-15 minutes at the end of the test period to reveiw either all of them or marked questions that were tough. I had taken several timed 100 question tests and was finishing them in 35-40 minutes…so I had a false sense of timing during the actual test.

    The most important things are to know the study quide and take a lot of practice tests.

    I also spent some time taking the study guide into large wine stores that brought “life” to obscure names that were in the study guide.

    Best of success to all who take the CSW!

    Frustrated Wine Man

  • Ahtnamas

    Just took Tues. Really not at all sure if I passed or failed. I was surprised at how little the study materials had to do with the test and at how many of the test questions had grammar error and misspelled words. I am sure now that it is important to pay for the current study workbook to pass. Argh.

  • mauri

    Hi Ahtnamas, what do you mean pay for the current study workbook? You mean that you didn’t study on the official Study Guide?

  • Shannon

    Just had one of my co-workers take the exam and passed with a 92. I gave her all of my Flash Cards and told her the same thing everyone told me….make sure when you close your eyes, you can see each Country very clearly. Questions on Italy were not on the 3 Regions that I spent so much time on in the book, but rather the smaller more non-descript areas of Italy. German heirarchy, for sure. Quite abit on France.
    I was so glad that I took the CSW before taking my Somm exam. I used my CSW Study Guide and maps to study for my Somm exam.
    It did take me a year to study for the CSW as I was working full-time. Good luck to all of you getting ready to take the exam. Invest in the Study Guide and the Lesson Planner, for sure!!

  • sarah

    Just took the CSW for the first time yesterday. I have been studying on and off for about a year but heavily studying the last month or so. I took lots of online quizzes, did flashcards and considered myself a pretty good student. I got a 70 🙁 and quite upset with myself. I will say that I thought the test was harder than I expected and some of the questions were trickier than they needed to be. I neglected to study much about the currents that affect different wine growing regions and also the geographical locations of many subregions because I had focused more on the larger regions. There were some questions about multi country (Europe) locations (most North,etc), and lots about minor grapes varieties in European counties – make sure you know the color of the grapes of these MINOR varieties. I did not buy the workbook but think I will do so before I tear my hair out taking this exam again. Good luck to anyone taking it.

  • sarah

    Anyone have a CSW workbook (used) that they are willing to sell?

  • Mary

    Hi Sarah, If you still need a CSW workbook, I’d be happy to sell you my CSW workbook (2014). I never even opened it–I was concentrating so hard on flash cards and online aids, I just didn’t have time.

    It’s in absolutely pristine condition. I didn’t even crack it open, and I’d love to see someone get some use out of it. How about $60 plus another $5 for shipping?

    And don’t worry about not passing that awful exam. I failed it twice before I finally passed a week ago. I just couldn’t learn all of those obscure details. But they did come easier after more readings, flashcards, etc. And if you haven’t taken Jane Nickles’ online class yet, I highly, highly recommend it. She’s terrific; made it much easier to really learn.

  • Dick Debosek

    Hi,I agree with the many comments. Miss Bubbly is the best. My other suggestions are to get as many test examples. What you will see on the practice tests will contain about 50% of all available test questions. The other 50 questions will be a lot different than the test questions (more complex questions and answers) so you must pace yourself during the 1-hour. Read the book–know the book. My other suggestion for the wine countries is to take your book to a fine wine shop that has a lot of international wines….compare the book’s descriptions to actual bottles—this brings the wines to life and it could be easier to remember. Concentrate on France, Italy, and Spain–about half of the country questions will come from these areas. These tips are given from a person who made a 72 the first test and passed it on the second go around with a 85.

  • Chris C

    I think you underestimate this test. I just took it today and passed with an 85%. I studied my butt off in addition to having a day job. I am also a vineyard and winery owner; so the Wine Chemistry and viticulture was easier for me. The other stuff….not so much! My test had 4 questions on South Africa and about 7 on France. Are you kidding me????

    I would advise someone who commits to this credential that they (definitely) purchase the SWE textbook and workbook. (I also did most of the Gallo Academy modules that are made available with the SWE membership.)

    I found this test very challenging. If you do it and want to pass on the first try, don’t look for shortcuts. Take it seriously. The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn a lot about wine.

  • Jess

    Hi there! Just wondering if anyone else tried to access “The Bubbly Professors” wine quizzes and has it always been password protected? I have been contemplating whether or not to take the test and was doing some research on how to go about studying (btw this was a great post thanks a bunch!) If anyone by chance knows the password or has any other suggestions for test examples that haven’t already been said please let me know 🙂

  • Mary Mihaly

    The best way to study for the CSW exam is to take the online class taught by SWE education director Jane Nickles (“The Bubbly Professor”). The class is free if you’ve registered for the exam. (As you may know, you have a year after you register to take the exam.) In the class she gives valuable printouts, including flash card questions, many of which appear on the exam.

    She’s an engaging, smart teacher. The percentage of students who pass the CSW after taking her class skyrockets, so I highly, highly recommend it.

    The SWE also sells a workbook full of quizzes, maps to fill in and other sample-question material. The workbook is excellent; I highly recommend that, too. (I have an extra 2014 workbook that’s in unused, perfect condition. I’ll sell it for a price break because they do have a 2015 edition, so the 2014 is missing some new info, such as a few new Euro laws.) In any case, good luck on the exam! The devil is in the details.

  • Susan Waverly

    Hey Jess – Why don’t you email the Bubbly Professor and ask for a password? I did that a few weeks ago and she sent me one right away. Go to the source, I always say.

  • a_swan_i

    Hi Folks, I am preparing for my CSW exam scheduled end of Jan and wondering – how many of the questions actually come from the first two units of the study guide ( viticulture, wine making etc).I feel like I am spending too much time reviewing and studying first two units and may not have enough time for the countries, maps etc.

  • Mary Mihaly

    The SWE offers an online class at least once a month, “The Insider’s Guide to the CSW exam” or something like that. It’s open to the public–you don’t need to be a member to sit in–so you might want to check their website.

    Break a leg!

  • I earned my CSW 8 years ago. Is the certification void over a period of time?

  • alainea miller

    Hello. I’m studying for csw…. Thanks for sharing your tips. I’m looking for a study buddy. If anyone is interested write me back on here. I’d be fun to find anyone who wants to do tastings or discuss wines.

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