Which WSET Class is for Me?
Prerequisites for the Advanced Course and Diploma
You can enroll in the WSET Intermediate course with no prior experience. "Intermediate" describes the level of wine knowledge you will have after successfully completing the course. The Foundation course is an even more basic introduction.
As discussed in greater detail below, the Intermediate Course is recommended before enrolling in the Advanced course. If you are thinking of skipping directly to the Advanced Course, please carefully read the material below. If, after reading it, you're not sure, please call us, and we can advise you further.
Where to Begin? Intermediate Course vs. Advanced Course
In the UK it is very unusual for someone to start WSET study at the Advanced Course level. It would be as unusual as someone going to law school without first having attained an undergraduate degree. And this makes sense because in the UK it's difficult to get even an entry level job at a restaurant or wine shop without having earned the Intermediate Level 2 Award.
But WSET courses have only come recently to the U.S. Here, there are many people holding jobs in the wine industry that, in the U.K., would have required at least the Advanced Level 3 Award, if not the Diploma. Others in the U.S., although they might not be employed in the wine industry, have years of self-education or other wine classes which make them sufficiently ready for the Advanced Course. It would be silly to make those people start with the Intermediate Course, so a compromise had to be reached.
The Regulations from the WSET state that, while the Intermediate Level 2 Award is generally required for Advanced Course candidates, those "candidates who believe they have a sufficiently good understanding of the subjects covered by the [Intermediate Course] syllabus are advised to consult their prospective tutor [i.e., in this case, us] before enrollment on a course of study for guidance on the accreditation of prior learning." The WSET will now keep a database of people registering for any of the exams, and will regularly check that database to make sure each registrant has already passed the Intermediate Level 2 Award - or has received a waiver - before permitting that person to take the Advanced Course exam.
In past years we let people decide for themselves, and some of the people who started with the Advanced Course did very well, earning Passes With Distinction. Others just barely passed, and some failed. Those who failed usually signed up to retake the exam, studied harder, and usually passed on their second try. The WSET will still permit us to waive the Intermediate Level 2 Award requirement for Advanced Course students, but we must first affirm that the person is sufficiently qualified. We, of course, will lose credibility with the WSET if we too often attest to a person's readiness, and then have that person fail. And that person, who had hoped to save time and money by going directly to the Advanced Course, might instead have the WSET require that he or she start all over again with the Intermediate Course before re-sitting the Advanced Course exam.
To gauge how your background compares to the expectations of the Intermediate Course, and to determine whether you are prepared to begin with the Advanced Course, we suggest browsing the course descriptions and reviewing the sample exam questions below. If you need further guidance about where to begin, please contact us.
Sample Exam Questions
Here are some questions indicating comparative level of difficulty for the respective multiple choice exams:
These are some questions similar to those used in Intermediate Course exams:
The buildings where Sherry is aged are called
- From which country does Lutomer Laski Rizling come?
- The Medoc is famous for which style of wine?
- What does the Italian term "abboccato" mean?
b) medium sweet
And, some sample Advanced Course-level multiple choice questions:
- What is the principal grape variety in Rose d'Anjou?
d) Cab. Franc
- Which one of the following is an example of a low- trained, cane-pruned
system of vine cultivation?
c) Lenz Moser
- Which of these villages is in the Grand Champagne district?
- Where is the Aconcagua Valley?
Answers for the above questions are [c, b, a, b; and b, a, c, b]. Highlight inside the brackets to see the answers.
The Intermediate Course exam has only multiple-choice questions. Learn more about the Intermediate Course Exam.
The Advanced Course exam includes multiple-choice and four short answer questions, and a fifteen-minute tasting segment. Learn more about the Advanced Course Exam.