top of page

So…. You registered for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines in 2023?

Tips from an amateur Ironman triathlete on preparing for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines!

When I decided to enroll the WSET L3 back in 2016, I was already training for my first full Ironman (IM) triathlon. Like most people, with a full-time job and a family, I could only devote a few hours a day for sport and study: So I had to get organized. Put simply, I approached the WSET preparation like I approached my IM triathlon training program. The tips I’m about to share with you have served me well: Since 2016, I passed the WSET L3 and the DipWSET and completed two IM triathlons between 12 & 13 hours.

The challenge of preparing for an IM triathlon (beside the long distances) comes from the fact that one must train in 3 different disciplines: Swim, Bike & Run.

Studying for the WSET L3 is similar in that one must prepare for 3 different exam parts: The 2-Wine Blind Tasting, the 50-Multiple Choice Questions and the 4-Short Written Answers. Each of these exam part demands a different set of skills. This means that preparation should revolve around 3 key activities: Writing tasting notes, memorizing the material and writing about it in a specific way.

Like for IM triathlon training, I followed a 3-step approach to prepare for the WSET L3:

  • Step 1. Design a plan

  • Step 2. Stick to it

  • Step 3. Enjoy


Designing any plan typically starts with the end in mind: For an IM Triathlon, it means visualizing exactly what the race day is going to look like: You can typically get all of the information on the IM triathlon website: that includes the course profile, the race regulations and tons of useful tips on how to prepare adequately. For the WSET L3 Award in Wines, you absolutely need to study the specification booklet to have a very precise vision of what will be expected of you to succeed at the exam.

There are normally 3 phases in training for a triathlon: The first phase is dedicated to laying out the foundations, the second phase is designed to increasingly build strength and endurance: training sessions become longer and more intense, rest periods also become increasingly important. During the third phase the amount of training actually decreases as the competition is approaching. The taper week is designed to give you a minimum of practice in all 3 sports while getting you uninjured and fresh at the starting line.

For the WSET L3 Award in wine, you should devote a couple of weeks to build the foundations: This means to review the WSET L2 book from cover to cover, to review WSET Level 2 flashcards, to re-do WSET Level 2 practice quizzes and do some pre-reading on the first chapters of the WSET L3 book. Following this, you’ll have a few intense weeks to study the WSET L3 content and finally, a taper week to revise for the exam. The WSET suggests a minimum of 84 hours of study for the exam. Frankly, unless you are a genius, if you aim for the high marks, you’ll need to put on a few more hours. In summary, your master plan may look like this: