Researchers questioned 309 secondary school and university students to determine their knowledge about government guidelines for safe alcohol consumption.
They found that the majority of respondents gave incorrect responses to five of the seven questions.
The survey also revealed that participants usually chose drinks containing more than one unit of alcohol, and underestimated the number of units in beverages.
Publishing their findings in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, the study authors warned that many young people do not have the understanding required to stick to the government's guidelines.
Lead researcher Dr Richard de Visser said: "Our results mean that people's reports of drinking patterns in research may lead to inaccurate estimates of the health effects of different levels of alcohol use.
"There may be a need for more and/or different alcohol education in schools and the media."
Meanwhile, there have been calls for film-makers to take a more responsible approach to the portrayal of alcohol and drinking in films, after a study found that seeing alcohol on-screen influences young people's drinking habits.