TOLES means ‘Test of Legal English Skills’. It is an exam which students of legal English can take to prove their level of legal English skills in order to have a career in an international law firm or dealing with international clients. It is gradually gaining traction as the exam to take for legal English and is being taking at centres around the world. Even if students are not interested in taking the test, the exam preparation is a good place to start learning legal English as the coursebooks provide a good overview of different areas of law and the vocabulary needed in these fields.
Are there levels?
TOLES has three levels. You do not have to take the exams in order and can choose which exam you take at any time. However, it is recommended that you progress through from level 1 – level 3 so that you build on the knowledge you have learnt in each stage without leaving gaps in your language.:
Level 1: Foundation
This is the first exam to take and is for legal English students who are beginning their journey with legal English. The exam includes reading and writing and takes 90 minutes to complete. There is no pass or fail and a grade is given out of 100.
Level 2: Higher
This is the second exam to take and is for legal English students who have an intermediate level of legal English. The exam includes reading, writing and listening and takes 135 minutes to complete. There is no pass or fail and a grade is given out of 100.
Level 3: Advanced
This is the third exam to take and is for legal English students who have a professional level of legal English. The exam includes reading, writing and drafting skills and takes 120 minutes to complete. There is no pass or fail, instead a grade is given out of 500 and is colour coded.
Who created TOLES?
TOLES is the brainchild of Catherine Mason, founder of Global Legal English Ltd, Director of the Cambridge Law Studio and member of the International Division of the Law Society of England and Wales.
How do I study for TOLES?
The best option is to use the dedicated books published by TOLES. For Foundation and Higher there is The Lawyer’s Legal English coursebook and for TOLES Advanced there is the Advanced Legal English Book. Even if you’re not interested in taking the exam, I recommend the coursebook as an introduction to legal English for both teachers and students alike.
See my book review of the TOLES book here:
Teachers and Courses
Whilst you can self-study using these books, the best way to ensure that you get a good mark in the exam is to study with a dedicated teacher or by following a TOLES course.
If you are interested in studying with an online teacher you can find many ESL teachers on italki and using this link you can get $10 of free credits for your first class.
There are also a number of podcast episodes on Study Legal English which you can follow. The podcast courses on English Legal System all contain key vocabulary applicable to TOLES and can be followed for free or alternatively as a member gaining access to further learning materials.
Where can you take TOLES?
You can take TOLES at a number of centres around the world. Centres must be registered with TOLES to be able to administer the exam and a directory is given on the TOLES website. You can search for a centre here.
When can you take TOLES?
Various TOLES training centres run the exam, find your local centre and contact them for dates.