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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the ServSafe

About the ServSafe exams

ServSafe exams are food safety courses put out by the National Restaurant Association. The 7th edition is the most current and takes into account the FDA Food Code changes that were made in 2017.

There are six ServSafe certifications you can earn: ServSafe Manager, ServSafe Food Handler, ServSafe Alcohol Primary, ServSafe Alcohol Advanced, ServSafe Allergens, and ServSafe Workspace. The test you need to take will be dependent on your role in food service and your state’s requirements. Five of the certifications ServSafe Manager, ServSafe Food Handler, ServSafe Alcohol Primary, ServSafe Alcohol Advanced, and ServSafe Allergens—deal directly with food safety, while ServSafe Workspace addresses the issues of unconscious bias and harassment that can occur in the workplace. ServSafe Workspace is also different from the other sections in that it does not include an exam, but is presented as a training course with a certificate of completion awarded at the end.

All questions are presented in a multiple-choice format and there is no penalty for guessing.

Sections of the ServSafe

ServSafe Alcohol Primary and ServSafe Alcohol Advanced

There are two types of food safety alcohol service exams copyrighted by the ServSafe program and both are nationally recognized. You may take either exam after completion of the ServSafe Alcohol coursework. The four areas covered on both exams are alcohol laws, intoxication, checking identification, and dealing with difficult situations.

Note: Our ServSafe Alcohol practice questions are structured to review for both tests. The first 40 questions are similar to questions you might see on the ServSafe Alcohol Primary exam. Since the ServSafe Alcohol Advanced exam also covers these areas, you should review the first 40 questions plus the last 30 questions (geared to advanced topics) if you are studying for the advanced exam.

The ServSafe Alcohol Primary exam is made up of multiple-choice questions taken directly from the course material and does not require a proctor if taken online.

  • Passing it certifies that you have basic knowledge of how to serve alcohol responsibly.
  • You must answer 75% correctly (30 of 40 questions) to pass this test.
  • The ServSafe Alcohol Primary exam is not timed, but you should allow about two hours for testing.

The ServSafe Alcohol Advanced test is a more complete and difficult version, requiring advanced knowledge.

  • It is a secure, standardized exam that certifies that you have mastered a broader range of knowledge concerning responsible alcohol service.
  • The 70 multiple-choice questions for this level may not come directly from the course of study and do encompass the entire realm of alcohol service.
  • The Advanced Alcohol exam does require a proctor and an 80% score to pass.
  • Ten of the questions are not scored, but used as “pilot” questions for future exams. You will not know which ones these are, but this means that you need to get 48 of the 60 scored questions correct.

Certain states have expanded requirements or training for alcohol service. To be certain you meet the requirements of your state, use this interactive map by the ServSafe program. Another source of alcohol service certification information is your local health department.

In addition to the ServSafe Alcohol Primary and Advanced exams, a separate course is available only for those serving alcohol and employed on cruise ships. The ServSafe Alcohol Cruise Line Online Course $30 and must be completed within 90 days of the start date. It is 40 questions in length, requires a score of at least 75%, and, like the other ServSafe exams, is multiple-choice.

ServSafe Allergens

The ServSafe Allergens exam is required for those wishing to obtain ServSafe certification in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and is recommended for anyone working in the foodservice industry. Allergens certification indicates that an individual possesses the knowledge of proper procedures to use when serving people with stated food allergies.

The Allergens course and assessment are offered online and you’ll need to complete both to be certified in allergens. Once you have purchased the course, you’ll have one year to begin it and 90 days from the start of your coursework to complete the course and take the test. It is possible to work on the course in segments, pausing between work sessions and resuming at a later time. When finished with the course, you will have three chances to pass the exam.

If both the course and assessment are completed successfully, you will be given a link to print your ServSafe Allergen Certificate.

ServSafe Food Handler

The ServSafe Food Handler exam is designed for food service employees who are not in a management position. It certifies that you have basic knowledge in the areas of personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, basic food safety, time and temperature, and cross-contamination and allergens.

The test contains 40 questions and is not timed. You must get 75% of the answers correct in order to pass the test, and you can take it as many times as you need to until you earn your ServSafe Food Handler certification. The Food Handler test is offered in two forms: a classroom/print version that must be given by an instructor, or as an online assessment that can be completed individually. The online course is available in English and Spanish. The textbook is printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.

Make sure to check the regulatory requirements in your area to be sure you are taking the correct course and test versions for your job.

ServSafe Manager

The ServSafe Manager exam is for food service employees in management positions. It certifies that you have the knowledge necessary to prevent foodborne illnesses and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the Conference for Food Protection Standards.

There are 90 multiple-choice questions on the ServSafe Manager exam and the time limit for completion is two hours. A passing score is 75% or better, but 10 questions are merely for research purposes and will not be scored (you won’t know which ones they are). Therefore, to pass you will need to correctly answer 60 out of the 80 scored questions. The test must be given in person by a certified ServSafe Proctor.

What’s the Best Way to Study for the ServSafe Exams?

ServSafe exams offer a few options for studying: online courses, in-person instruction, and self-directed study.

ServSafe Online Courses

Official ServSafe online courses are a convenient way to study at home, and they are available for each of the five ServSafe exams. They are available 24 hours a day and are best for self-disciplined students looking for a flexible, dynamic study option. If you choose this option, make sure you begin studying shortly after purchase, as the course must be started within one year of the day of sale. Once started, the ServSafe Food Handler exam must be completed within 60 days, and the ServSafe Manager and ServSafe Alcohol courses must be completed within 90 days. If you don’t finish within that time frame, you will lose access to the course and will need to repurchase the product at full price, with no exceptions.

For a personalized approach to study, you may find our cram course for the ServSafe useful. You tell us when your exam day is, and we give you a daily lesson with all you need to know based on how much time you have. It’s an easy way to take the guess work of how much and what you should study!

In-Person Instruction for the ServSafe Exam

This is a great option if you’re someone who does better learning in a classroom setting and likes having the ability to ask questions in real time. Instructor-led courses are available for the ServSafe Alcohol, ServSafe Food Handler, and ServSafe Manager tests. Here is where you can find ServSafe instructors in your area for all three of these tests.

Self-Directed Study


Self-directed study simply means you are studying on your own terms. This option is best for you if you need flexibility in your schedule or budget, as you can pick when, where, and how you study. If you like to study with a physical textbook, the ServSafe website offers several for purchase.

ServSafe Practice Tests

Online practice tests for the ServSafe exam, like those offered at Union Test Prep, are also a great option to help you gauge your knowledge level so you can work on areas where you might struggle before test day. It can also be helpful to utilize practice versions of the official ServSafe exam, but keep in mind these are for practice only and, depending when they were published, may not be up to date with the latest ServSafe test version.

ServSafe practice tests are one of the best ways to study because they quickly identify the areas or subjects that give you trouble. Knowing the difficulty level and construction of questions can also help you feel more comfortable when taking the real exam.

ServSafe Flashcards and Study Guides

Other options to check out are our study guides, which cover essential topics you’ll be expected to know, and flashcards, which provide a quick way to test your knowledge. Flashcards are a great way to store information in your long-term memory, as they force you to recall information instead of picking it out of a lineup.

What to Expect on Test Day

If you are taking your ServSafe exam online at home, you will need to be able to log in to your account and follow the provided instructions. If you are taking the exam in a classroom setting or testing center, there are several standard test-taking rules you’ll be expected to follow. Cell phones, scratch paper, books, and personal items are not allowed in the testing area, and if you need to use the restroom during the test you must raise your hand. Keep in mind that only one person is allowed out of the room at a time, so if someone else from your group had the same idea, you will have to wait. Be sure to bring along a photo ID as it will be collected before the exam and returned to you after you are finished.

ServSafe Exam FAQ

1. Where can I get a copy of my ServSafe certificate?

You can print a copy of your ServSafe certificate by logging into your ServSafe account. You may also request a copy be mailed to you for a fee of $10.

2. How long is my ServSafe certificate valid?

This varies by certification area. The National Restaurant Association recognizes the ServSafe Manager certificate for five years. The ServSafe Food Handler, Alcohol, and Allergen certificates are valid for three years. However, as different states and employers may have different requirements, always check with your local health department if you’re not sure your certification is valid.

3. Is there a ServSafe exam available in my language?

The ServSafe Manager exam is available online in English, Spanish, and Chinese. It is offered in a print version in English, Spanish, Korean, French Canadian, Japanese, and Chinese.

The ServSafe Food Handler Assessment is available in five languages:

  • English

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

  • Korean

  • Vietnamese

The ServSafe Alcohol Primary and Advanced exams are available in both English and Spanish in print, as well as online in English and Spanish in certain states.

4. Is the ServSafe Exam Hard?

As with any exam, the ServSafe exam can be challenging if you aren’t prepared. Be sure to study using all resources available to you, including practice tests, study guides, flashcards, and online study courses. While there is a lot of information to learn, most of it is straightforward and easy to understand if you put in the time and effort.

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