TOLES is changing, this article is updated to take into account the latest changes.
What is TOLES?
Study Legal English is a registered TOLES examination and training centre. This means it is an official centre for preparing for and taking the TOLES exam. You can find courses on offer here or get in touch directly: Louise@studylegalenglish.com. But what is TOLES?
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. The exam can be taken in paper format (updated 05/06/23: this was to be discontinued, but following feedback requesting to continue the written exam, it will now continue to be available) and also online.
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.
Why should I take a TOLES exam?
The TOLES exams are the leading exams for non-native English-speaking lawyers and law students to prove their level of legal English. Once you have taken the TOLES exam, you will get a certificate which is valid for life and does not expire. Additionally, you will learn a range of legal English vocabulary which will help you in your work and studies.
Who are the TOLES exams for?
The TOLES exams are appropriate for non-native English-speaking law students and legal professionals (paralegals, lawyers, judges, translators, interpreters) who need English for work or studies.
Are there levels for the TOLES exam?
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 and writing and takes 90 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 the TOLES exam?
TOLES was created by Catherine Mason, founder of Global Legal English Ltd, Director of the Cambridge Law Studio. The exams were established in 2000 and are jointly owned by Cambridge Law Studio Limited and Global Legal English Limited.
How do I study for the TOLES exam?
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 preparation course. Alternatively, 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 and podcast episodes tagged with TOLES which 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 the TOLES exam?
You can take the TOLES exam at a number of centres around the world. Centres must be registered with TOLES to be able to administer the exam. You can also take the TOLES exam online.
When can you take the TOLES exam?
The 2024 exam dates for the Test of Legal English Skills are:
➡️ January 25 2024 (registration deadline January 5)
➡️ March 21 2024 (registration deadline March 1)
➡️ May 23 2024 (registration deadline May 3)
➡️ June 27 2024 (registration deadline June 7)
➡️ August 22 2024 (registration deadline August 2)
➡️ November 21 2024 (registration deadline November 1)
For more exam dates see here.