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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 8th edition was released in 2022 and takes into account the FDA Food Code changes that were made in 2022.

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 Alcohol practice questions for the ServSafe 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 is $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.

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.

The ServSafe Manager examination consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, with a completion time frame of two hours. To achieve a passing grade, candidates must score at least 75%. It’s important to note that among these questions, 10 are designated for research and are not included in the final score; the specific questions are not disclosed to the examinees. Consequently, passing the examination requires accurately answering 60 of the 80 questions that are evaluated. The test can be administered either in person by a certified ServSafe Proctor or remotely with online proctoring.

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

There are several options for studying for your ServSafe exam: online courses, in-person instruction, and self-directed study. The best option for you depends mostly on where you live, as different areas have different requirements for becoming certified.

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 study option. If you choose the online study course, 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 also 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

In-person instruction 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.

Self-Directed Study


For individuals who prefer tangible study materials, the ServSafe website provides various textbooks tailored for exam preparation. These books present in-depth information and help learners grasp essential concepts for the test.

ServSafe Practice Tests

Online ServSafe practice tests are 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 eligible to take 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 online in five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, but tests regarding special accommodations might only be available in English and Spanish.

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.

5. Can I take the ServSafe Exam on Your Website?

While we provide study help for the ServSafe exam, you can not take the ServSafe exam on our website. To schedule your exam, either online or in person, you will need to create an account on the ServSafe website and review what options are available in your area.

If your employer requires you to have a ServSafe certification, make sure you only schedule testing through the ServSafe website. Many companies offer food safety courses that aren’t affiliated with ServSafe and they may not be accepted in your area.