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TOLES exam and TOLES preparation course

What is TOLES?

TOLES stands for Test of Legal English Skills and was developed to test the legal English skills of those working in the legal profession who do not speak English as a first language.  It is not a pass/fail examination: all candidates receive a certificate indicating a grade at their chosen examination level.

There are 3 levels of examination*: Foundation, Higher and Advanced.  These levels reflect the level of a candidate’s Legal English knowledge rather than their level of general English.  Nevertheless, the better the level of general English, the more likely a candidate will succeed at a higher level of examination.

Unlike some other Legal English examinations, TOLES examinations expect candidates to demonstrate a high level of grammatical and linguistic accuracy, particularly in written tasks.  It is therefore a very practical examination, testing the skills of candidates to perform tasks such as drafting contracts, writing emails or letters as well as understanding the kinds of conversations that lawyers are typically involved in.

For more information on our 5-day TOLES exam preparation course or August intensive Legal English course.



  • Lasts 90 minutes
  • Tests legal reading and writing
  • Focuses on practical legal vocabulary in real situations and consolidates basic grammar
  • Tests absolute accuracy rather than general fluency 
  • Needs a good elementary general English level (or above)
  • Is suitable for international law students
  • Is suitable for more experienced lawyers, who also want to develop their English skills generally


  • Lasts approximately 135 minutes  (90 minutes reading and writing/30-45 minutes listening)
  • Tests legal reading and writing and legal listening
  • Focuses on practical legal reading, writing and listening skills in real legal situations
  • Tests a confident use of language in more complex situations and a precise use of vocabulary and register 
  • Tests understanding of conversations often experienced by working lawyers
  • Needs an intermediate – upper intermediate (or above) level of general English
  • Is suitable for both international law students and more experienced lawyers


  • Lasts 120 minutes
  • Tests legal reading, writing and drafting skills, in addition to knowledge of appropriate register and business idioms
  • Focuses on practical reading, writing and drafting skills in real legal situations
  • Tests how well a lawyer, who is not a native-speaker of English, uses commercial legal English skills
  • Tests the vocabulary and grammar required for drafting contracts in English
  • Tests for absolute accuracy in English in addition to an excellent command of technical legal vocabulary and the use of formal and informal language at work
  • Needs a good upper intermediate to advanced level of general English
  • Is suitable for both international law students and more experienced lawyers

ECS Scotland is a registered TOLES examination centre in Edinburgh.  See here for TOLES exam dates.

The exam costs £140.  If you wish to take the exam at our centre in Edinburgh, please send us an email  to check availability and book a place.

The TOLES exam tests your accuracy in Legal English written skills.

Refine your drafting skills in English to do well in the TOLES exam.

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