The TOLES Advanced Exam


About the Course

Our Advanced Exam is the THIRD step in successful professional development with TOLES.

Reaching the standard employers demand

The Advanced Exam was created and then developed in consultation with leading commercial law firms and is considered to be the gold standard of legal English achievement. TOLES Advanced was initially created at the request of a major commercial law firm in London who required a method of testing the English of international interns and new associates in its international offices. This required researching the tasks international lawyers were required to carry out in English and making a careful analysis of how best to test proficiency in those areas. The result was the TOLES Advanced Exam. Since its creation it has been trusted by legal employers everywhere as a measure of a lawyer’s commercial legal English skills rather than his or her academic legal English skills.


The exam has one paper: legal reading and writing. The exam measures a candidate’s skills against a native English-speaking lawyer. In other words, any candidate scoring in our ‘Gold’ category genuinely has very similar legal English skills to a native English-speaking solicitor, barrister or attorney. The exam has a heavy focus on the vocabulary and grammar required for contract drafting. It also encourages knowledge of the plain English style of writing favoured these days by leading commercial law firms. A working knowledge of the difference between ‘legalese’ and ‘plain English’ is essential to doing well in this exam. The candidates who score very well at Advanced level show an appreciation of the huge importance of absolute accuracy when working in law, as well as having a strong grasp of technical legal vocabulary. The exam also requires sensitivity to register and an understanding of how formal and informal English is used in a professional workplace.

Level of general English

The level of English needed for this exam is Upper Intermediate-Advanced level. The exam measures a candidate’s legal English skills against the standard required of native English-speaking lawyers.


  • 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’ 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

About the TOLES Advanced Syllabus

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 training for TOLES Advanced together is the final step in our programme in achieving the standard employers require.


The focus of all of the TOLES exams is absolute accuracy, a strong legal vocabulary and familiarisation with modern legal style. All of these elements come together at the highest level with this Stage 3 exam. The priority of the TOLES Advanced Exam is to give learners an opportunity to genuinely test themselves at the most challenging level possible and to provide employers with a certificate they can trust.


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 and some background reading and knowledge of current events in the international legal market is vital. Extra material on best practice in the profession in key areas is highly recommended. 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
  • banking
  • companies
  • 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