The Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) Exam is a rigorous exam, which tests a candidate’s spirits knowledge and mastery of key elements within the world of distillation and spirits production. This certification is widely recognized and regarded by the international spirits industry.
The CSS Exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, all the material for which is drawn exclusively from the CSS Study Guide. Candidates are provided with one (1) hour in which to complete the exam. There are no prerequisites required to take the CSS Exam. Successful candidates who achieve a score of 75% or better are entitled to use the CSS post-nominal as part of their professional signature. Candidates receive a preliminary score upon completing their exam, and official results are sent in 2-4 weeks. They will also receive a PDF certificate through email, and a CSS lapel pin that is mailed.
Candidates will purchase the CSS Exam through the SWE Catalog+Store. The Exam Authorization does not include any study materials. The 2021 CSS Study Guide may be purchased as a hard copy through Amazon.The 2021 CSS Study Guide is available as an eBook on Amazon and as an eBook on Apple’s iBooks. The 2020 CSS Study Guide may be purchased as a hard copy through Amazon. The 2020 CSS Study Guide is available as an eBook on Amazon, and is also available as an eBook on Apple’s iBooks.
Testing Locations (ProctorU or Pearson VUE Testing Centers):
1. ProctorU is a live online proctoring service that allows you to take your CSS exam from the comfort of your home. Candidates will be sent ProctorU information via email after purchasing the exam credit on the SWE Website. ProctorU is available 24/7, however, you will need to schedule your proctoring session at least 72 hours in advance to avoid any on-demand scheduling fees.
In order to use ProctorU, you will need a high-speed internet connection, a webcam (internal or external), a Windows or Apple operating system, and a government issued photo ID. ProctorU recommends that you visit https://go.proctoru.com after creating your account to test out your equipment prior to your exam. Simply click on the “Test My Equipment” button located at the top of the screen. Please make sure that you are using the current version of your browser and have downloaded the ProctorU extension available here for Chrome and here for Firefox. You may only use either Chrome or Firefox as your browser. You cannot use a smartphone or tablet to take your exam.
Additionally, please visit and review the test-taker resource center here. You should expect the startup process with the proctor to take about 10-15 minutes. However, this time will not affectyour exam time. Please feel free to direct any questions to the test taker support team via the live chat within your account.
2. CSS exams are available at Pearson VUE testing centers. Candidates will be sent an authorization code after purchasing the exam credit on the SWE website. With the authorization code, a CSS Exam may be scheduled through Pearson at the candidate’s preferred time and place. Pearson VUE Testing center locations are in almost every major city in the United States and available worldwide. Exam registrations are good for one full year from the date of purchase.
CSS Exam Availability:
- 2021 Study Guide: The CSS exam based on the 2021 edition of the Study Guide will be available at ProctorU and Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2023.
- 2020 Study Guide: The CSS exam based on the 2020 edition of the Study Guide will be available at ProctorU and Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2022.
- 2019 Study Guide: CSS Exams based on the 2019 edition of the Study Guide will be available at ProctorU and Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2021.
The Society of Wine Educators offers many additional resources for CSS Candidates, including the following
2021 CSS Workbook: A 100-page workbook, featuring valuable study resources and practice quizzes, is available on Amazon as a hard copy workbook. The 2020 CSS Workbook is still available for purchase on Amazon.
SWE is pleased to offer monthly SWEbinars based on the CSS Study Guide. SWEbinars are offered free of charge and available to the public. For more information and a schedule of our SWEbinars, please see our webpage at: https://societyofwineeducators.org/swebinars/
Guided, 10-week online prep classes are provided, free of charge, to individual Professional Members of the SWE. You can find more information on the classes here: https://societyofwineeducators.org/education-certifications/online-test-prep-classes/
Practice Tests and Quizzes: A suite of practice tests and quizzes, based on the entirety of the CSS Study Guide and Workbook and ideal for use near the end of your studies, may be found at this link for purchase. The price for our Practice Tests and Quizzes are $19.00, which includes unlimited use for one year. The Practice Tests and Quizzes are only available online.
Digital flashcards—nearly 800 in total—based on the CSS Study Guide. The price for our flashcards are $19.00, which includes unlimited use for one year. These are digital flash cards, and they are only available online. For more information, click here. Please note, these are the only Certified Specialist of Spirits flashcards that are approved and created by the Society of Wine Educators. These flashcards are only available on the link above.
The Online Spirits Academy is a supplemental online course, designed to aide candidates in their studies. It covers the same topics as the CSS Study Guide, while providing automatically graded quizzes and tests that help an individual understand what they need to study. Please note, though, that all questions on the CSS Exam are drawn from the CSS Study Guide.
The Society of Wine Educators owns the copyright in all exam materials and supplements referenced herein. Any redistribution or reproduction of part of all of the content is prohibited except as permitted by copyright law. You may not, except with the express permission of the Society of Wine Educators, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.