WSET Global is a fantastic wine education program that I can’t say enough good things about! If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that last year I completed my WSET levels 1 & 2 from the Virginia Wine Academy located in Richmond. I had the privilege of doing Level 2 in person which really set me up for success in taking Level 3 online. If you are looking for advice on WSET Level 2 and how to study for it, check out my post on ‘My WSET Level 2 Experience’.
As I mentioned, I took WSET level 3 online. I did this through Napa Valley Wine Academy. This is a great school to go through because they offer a lot of different dates and times for their courses. They also provided each student with a 12 bottle tasting kit to go along with the online course! The only thing to keep in mind when signing up for your WSET level 3 is that your exam MUST be taken in person. Napa Valley Wine Academy offers a few tasting locations in the USA, but I chose to go to Napa and also make a wine tasting trip out of it, because why not?!
The biggest difference between WSET levels 2 & 3 is the amount of materials and the exam. WSET level 2 is often a 6 week course that starts off with a little bit of winemaking background and then jumps heavily into the different grape varietals. Each chapter is broken up by the different grapes, while mentioning key characteristics and regions.
WSET Level 3 is at least three times more the material than level 2. The first half of the textbook is all about winemaking, grape growing, environmental factors, maturation, production, etc. The second half of the book is broken up into chapters by countries and wine growing regions. The book then finishes with fortified wines and sparkling wines.
I love how WSET global structures their courses. I think they do a fantastic job of explaining all of the information and offering you materials to aid your learning. The Study Guide for level 3 comes with tasting sheets, maps, practice theory questions and an entire 50 question multiple choice practice exam! SO helpful.
I am much more of a visual, hands on learner, so I was less than thrilled taking the course online. But if I got through it, so can you! My biggest tips for getting the most out of the online course:
The exam for WSET 2 is only 50 questions multiple choice. For WSET level 3 you must prepare for 50 questions multiple choice, a theory section, and a blind tasting of 2 wines.
For my personal exam, we did the tasting portion first! Thankfully, right after we tasted the wines and turned in our answers, the facilitator told us the wines. This way we had an idea of how we did right away. The theory and multiple choice sections were done together after the tasting. Typically they say you get your results back after 8 weeks, but due to COVID it took mine about 14 to get back to me.
Studying for this exam is crucial! Since you aren’t graded on anything but the exam, knowing how and what to study can be a lifesaver.
This sounds boring but it’s necessary! The first time through you can read the textbook at your liesure. The second time through, start to pull out the bold and important information. I started to make flashcards after reading my book the 3rd time through.
I attempted to make hand written flashcards but after about 50 of them I knew I needed a different strategy. I ended up using quizlet and made about 500 flashcards! You can always search for others that made flashcards for the same exam, but I recommend making your own. You comprehend SO much just by typing them up.
This was the best study method for me. Since a majority of the information on the exam has to do with the wine varieties and regions, having maps with important information on them was extremely helpful to me. If you don’t want to free-hand draw maps, just print or copy some from the internet and add in your own notes!
In order to be successful on the tasting portion of the exam, it requires lots of practice! To make things more fun, host a tasting with family or friends. This gives you an opportunity to share your wine knowledge, practice tasting different wines, while becoming a better taster. Don’t forget to go through your Wine Lexicon and use the SAT from the book!
For a full recap of my WSET Level 3 Experience and Study tips, watch the video here!