TOLES - Test of Legal English Skills
The TOLES exams test the specific English that lawyers who do not have English as a first language need to work successfully in international commercial law.
Commercial legal English is significantly different from everyday English, or the English needed to do a law degree with a UK or US university.
The TOLES exams allow international lawyers and law students to provide evidence of their language skills in specific areas of knowledge that are highly valued by employers, such as international commercial negotiations, company documents and cross-border contracts drafted in English.
There are three TOLES tests:
- TOLES Foundation
- TOLES Higher
- TOLES Advanced
TOLES FOUNDATION (B1)
About the Course
The Foundation Exam is the FIRST step in successful professional development with TOLES. The Foundation Exam develops an awareness of the real tasks a lawyer carries out in a modern international legal office and focuses on real and recent legal developments and cases.
Starting point in legal English training for international law students or for more experienced lawyers who wish to begin training in professional legal English.
Show absolute linguistic accuracy in written English:
- Technical legal vocabulary from commercial deals, company documents, commercial contracts, intellectual property agreements, financial documents and forms of business are tested, as well as legal terminology from other areas.
Basics for the Foundation TOLES exam
- Time allowed: 90 minutes
- Skills tested: Legal reading and writing (90 minutes)
- Focus: Practical legal vocabulary in authentic situations; consolidation of basic grammar
- Appropriate level of general English: Elementary-Advanced
- Training materials: ‘The Lawyer’s English Language Coursebook’ and other legal English books/materials available at an introductory level
- Score: The maximum score possible at Foundation level is 100
- Certificate: TOLES Foundation with grade explanation
TOLES HIGHER (B2/C1)
About the Course
Our Higher Exam is the SECOND step in successful professional development with TOLES. The Higher Exam builds on the language skills and knowledge of practical legal vocabulary acquired at Foundation level. The Higher Exam moves learners to the next stage and requires the ability to deal with more complex authentic legal documents and scenarios while also continuing to focus on a strict attention to detail and grammatical accuracy.
- Deal confidently with complex and recent commercially-relevant case studies, extracts from contracts and a professional letter.
- Show accuracy in practical and useful legal vocabulary
- Show ability to provide precise definitions for very common words from commercial practice
- Show good knowledge of the register of language
- Show ability to improve informal English and make it more appropriate and professional.
- Show totally accurate understanding of conversations between two or more lawyers or a lawyer and a client on topics that are very current , on situations that working lawyers frequently experience or on topics that are of international interest.
Basics for the Higher TOLES exam
- Time allowed: 135 minutes approximately (depending on variations in the listening test)
- Skills tested: Legal reading and writing (90 minutes); legal listening (30-45 minutes)
- Focus: Practical reading, writing and listening skills in authentic legal situations
- Appropriate level of general English: Intermediate-Advanced
- Training materials: ‘The Lawyer’s English Language Coursebook’ and other legal English books/materials available at an Intermediate level. Additional grammar study recommended
- Score: The maximum score possible at Higher level is 100
- Certificate: TOLES Higher with grade explanation
TOLES Advanced (C1/C2)
About the Course
Our Advanced Exam is the THIRD step in successful professional development with TOLES. The major aim of the Advanced Exam is to equip lawyers who do not have English as a first language with the skills they need to work in a modern commercial legal environment at the very highest level. The TOLES Advanced exam measures a candidate’s legal English skills against the standard required of native English-speaking lawyers. A candidate scoring in our ‘Gold’ category genuinely has very similar legal English skills to a native English-speaking solicitor, barrister or attorney.
- Show very advanced/close to native level of vocabulary and grammar for contract drafting.
- Show knowledge of the plain English style of writing. A working knowledge of the difference between ‘legalese’ and ‘plain English’ is essential to doing well in this exam.
- Show absolute accuracy when working in law.
- Show strong grasp of technical legal vocabulary.
- Show use and understanding of formal and informal English used in a professional workplace.
Basics for the Advanced TOLES exam
- Time allowed: 120 minutes
- Skills tested: Legal reading, writing and drafting, knowledge of register and business idiom
- Focus: Practical reading, writing and drafting skills in authentic legal situations
- Appropriate level of general English: Upper Intermediate – Advanced
- Training materials: ‘The Lawyer’s English Language Coursebook’, ‘Advanced Legal English’ and other legal English books/materials available at an advanced level. Some study of commercial contracts and standard terms and conditions is recommended at this level.
- Score: The maximum score possible at Advanced level is 500
- Certificate: TOLES Advanced with grade explanation
The TOLES Advanced Exam requires little or no knowledge of British or American law but learners who do well at this level usually have a strong awareness of commercial realities when dealing with the UK and the USA. Commercial awareness is an essential skill when it comes to scoring well in the TOLES Advanced Exam. The exam requires knowledge of essential, international legal terminology, a mastery of complex grammar and complete sensitivity to use of register in the following general areas:
- basic legal negotiations
- pre-contractual documents
- commercial contracts
- other forms of business
- bankruptcy and insolvency
- employment law and contracts
- the litigation process
- essential contract law
- the law of tort
- intellectual property
- real estate
- oral contracts
- an introduction to the common law
- letter writing skills