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About the Exam

About the Italian Wine Scholar Exam

To become an Italian Wine Scholar and receive the IWS credential candidates need to pass the exams for Unit 1 and Unit 2 with a composite score of 75%

The scores from both exams are added together and averaged for final assessment.

Students with a composite score of 85-90.5 pass with HONORS. Candidates scoring 91-100 pass with HIGHEST HONORS.

Passing the exam for unit 1 or unit 2 alone does not confer the Italian Wine Scholar credential.

Preparing for the exam:

In order to prepare properly for the exam, you must read and study the manual carefully. At first, it may seem a daunting body of knowledge to tackle…but we would like to give you a few tips.

What facts are important?

  • Pay close attention to superlatives (biggest, smallest, highest, lowest, newest, oldest, youngest).  Note the facts associated with words such as “first” and “last.” They make for good exam questions.
  • Learn the Italian wine terms and their English equivalents.
  • Know your soils, geography, mountains and rivers.
  • Know your grapes and their synonyms.
  • Become conversant in Italy’s DOC(G)s and the primary grape(s) grown within their confines.
  • Know your history and the key individuals who have figured prominently in the development of the wine culture of any given region.
  • Study the specifics of wine production for white, rosé, red, sparkling, late-harvest, and passitos.
  • Study your maps. You need to know where the wine regions and their DOC(G)s are located.
  • Pay attention to the need-to-know icons.

The exam is comprehensive. It will cover all the wine regions of Italy. This means you must study everything!


Exam FAQs:

About the Exam

Is the exam open-book?

No. Both paper exams and online exams are proctored. No books, notes, maps or other materials can be on your desk, on the walls, or on the computer screen when you sit the exam.

Is this a beginner-level exam?

No. This is an advanced exam conferring a professional post-nominal. It is helpful to have a solid, general wine background before embarking of this course of study.

How are the results transmitted?

Exam results for each individual Unit are transmitted directly to students via email.


When candidates earn the Italian Wine Scholar post-nominal, certificates and lapel pins are transmitted in the following manner:

*Distance-Learning students and students studying through program providers in the United States: sent to each individual by mail.

*Students studying through program providers based outside of the United States: mailed out to the program provider by postal service. The program provider will then provide them to their successful students.

What do I get after I sit the exam for my first unit?

After your exam is graded, you receive your results via email. Passing only one unit does not confer a certificate or post-nominal.

Can I move on to the second unit if I do not reach 75% on my first unit exam? Should I retake my first exam before registering for unit 2?

It's up to you. You may re-sit the exam for which you scored under 75 if you are more comfortable mastering that content before moving on or you may move on to the next unit in the hopes of scoring high enough to give you a composite score of 75 or higher.

Please note that all exam re-takes incur an additional fee. Obviously, it is best to be prepared for each exam the first time you sit.

There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit

What happens after I sit the exam for my second unit?

After your second exam is graded, you receive a results letter, and if your composite score for both units is above 75%, you receive a certificate and lapel pin.

What if I score below 75% on one unit and my composite score for both units does not average 75%?

You may register to retake the exam for the unit for which you did not reach 75%. There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit.

What if I have a score below 75% on both units?

You start by retaking the exam for the unit for which you had the lowest score. If your new composite score is above 75%, you pass. If not, you may register to retake the exam for the other unit. There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit

What do I need to know for the exam?

Perhaps this question is best answered by discussing what you do not need to know: dates DOC/Gs were granted, percentages of grapes in the blend, production numbers, and food traditions.

Focus on what grapes are grown where, what DOC/Gs belong to what wine region, rivers, mountains and other topographical markers, climate types, soil types and unique grape growing or wine making attributes specific to each region.

Know your grapes! Spend some time working with the maps. Know where things are located. Know the champions (producers and people) of a particular DOC/G if mentioned.

Is there a time limit during which I need to complete both Units?

Yes. You must be enrolled in and/or have completed both units within a 24-month span.

For example, if you start Unit 1 in January of 2019, you must be enrolled in (or have completed) Unit 2 by December of 2020. Extensions are available if life gets in the way.

But we make this rule for the sake of continuity between exam and manual. We update the manuals every two years. We need to ensure that you take the exams for the manuals you have studied.

How long should I spend in study?

There are 8 to 12 chapters in the manual depending on the Unit.  Some chapters are longer than others, but the smaller units might contain the most amount of new information to most students.

For this reason, we recommend spending an average of 8 hours per chapter. In sum, you should plan on approximately 64 to 96 hours of study for each unit.  This, however, is a broad generalization.

You will need more study time if you do not have a strong wine background.

Do you have a suggested study strategy?

Yes.  Read through the Foundation Unit in its entirety before actually studying the individual chapters within it. Do this for the regional section also. First read each regional chapter through in its entirety before going back to study it. Work with a highlighter. Highlight new terms and important DOC(G)s. Use blanks maps and locate the most important information such as the DOCGs, grapes, soils, hills and rivers.
Check off the learning objectives as you master them. They are downloadable on your Online Course page. Confirm content retention by working through the online quizzes.

Are there sample test questions?

Yes. There is a twenty-question sample test that accurately conveys the types of questions and the level of difficulty of the actual exam.

How do I schedule my exam(s) and what is needed?

Distance-learning candidates who take their exam on-line must have a computer, internet connection and webcam for proctoring purposes.

Candidates have one year from registration date to take the exam.

When ready, the candidate may contact (1) one month in advance, WSG office manager Celine Camus at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule the exam.