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LEGAL ENGLISH EXAMS Part 2: 6 TIPS FOR TOLES ADVANCED EXAM SUCCESS

As we saw in Part 1, TOLES (‘Test of Legal English Skills’) is now the only real alternative if you want to take a globally recognised legal English exam. In this post, we will offer you some tips and suggestions about how to maximise your chances of doing well in the TOLES Advanced exam. Let’s go!

1. MAKE THE DECISION TO DO THE TOLES ADVANCED EXAM


TOLES offers three exam options: Foundation, Higher, and Advanced. Decide to do the Advanced. Why? Because it’s the only one of the three exams which will realistically be of any practical use to you. A potential employer or recruiter will almost certainly only be interested in whether you have done the Advanced exam. Yes, the lower exams may be okay if you just want to sit an exam, but most students need it to establish credibility with a potential employer, recruiter, etc.


In suggesting this, we also suggest that you have a study programme that uses material from the other two programmes. Why? Because it will build essentially vocabulary and understanding of basic English legal principles. However: AIM HIGH!


2. START YOUR PREPARATION WELL IN ADVANCE


There is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Unless you are already very familiar with English contract language and principles, along with other language and principles of English commercial and civil law, you will need a lot of time to prepare for this exam, if you wish to do well.


What do I mean by ‘do well’? The point here is that you cannot ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ the TOLES Advanced exam. The ‘grade’ you get will be somewhere between 1 and 500 and will be placed in one of 6 ‘bands’, which range from ‘Gold’ (the highest band, from 451-500) to ‘Green’ (if you score between 1 – 100).


3. IMPROVE YOUR WRITING


The TOLES Advanced exam is a 2-hour written exam. There is no oral (spoken) test. The highest scoring parts of the exam are parts where you will need to prove your written competence. However good your written English may be, it will need to be excellent if you dream of the ‘Gold’ grade most high-achieving lawyers and law students wish to aim for. Your writing will need to be clear, concise, precise, and deliver the answers the examiners will be looking for if you wish to get a high grade.


The English you will be expected to use will be ‘plain English’, rather than ‘legalese’. Writing in a traditional, old-fashioned ‘lawyer’ style will not impress the examiners and you will not get the marks you need to do well. Although plain English sounds easier to master, it takes practice and skill to use it well.


4. START PRACTISING EARLY USING TOLES ADVANCED EXAM PAPERS


As early as possible, get some previous TOLES Advanced exam papers and start to look at them. This has several advantages, including:


· You will see and understand, early, exactly the challenge you face;

· You begin to familiarise yourself with the format of the exam paper;

· You can organise your study programme much more efficiently, as you will see exactly what general areas the examiners consistently concentrate on;

· It removes some of the fear, worry, or nervousness of what the exam is all about.


The TOLES organisation do offer practice papers for sale which are (currently) available at £20 from https://www.toleslegal.com/shop/ . For this, you receive a book with 5 sets of exam practice papers to look at and work on. I would seriously recommend that you do this early, if you wish to do as well as you can.


5. HAVE AN EXAM STRATEGY IN PLACE BEFORE THE EXAM – AND STICK TO IT!


Two hours sounds a long time. It isn’t, I assure you. You have 59 questions to answer and two hours to do it. You need to have an exam strategy fixed in your mind before the exam – and stick to it.


If you have followed tip number 4, you will have an advantage. Doing practice papers will help you decide how best to allocate your time during the exam. You will know the questions which offer more marks, you will know how long you might need to spend on those questions, and you can allocate your exam time accordingly – in advance! Do not, under any circumstances, sit down in the exam room and then start to think about how to approach the exam paper. That is certainly ‘preparing to fail’.


I almost guarantee that you will feel you did not have enough time at the end of the exam, however well you have prepared. But, if you have prepared well and thoroughly, you will be in a better position to get those marks you need.


6. GET AN EXCELLENT TOLES TUTOR/TRAINER


Okay, I think I know what you are going to say here: ‘You would say that, wouldn’t you?’ The fact remains, however, that if you want to do well in this exam, you will almost certainly need guidance and advice from an experienced TOLES tutor/trainer.


Why? Because there are techniques and strategies available to help you maximise your marks, and an experienced tutor/trainer will not only show these to you, but help you develop skill and competence in answering those key questions in the way the examiner wants to see.


TOLES has a list of TOLES exam centres around the world on its website. You will find a list of these on the TOLES website at:


https://www.toleslegal.com/find-examination-centre/

And, finally - yes, we offer TOLES training/tuition at Cambridge Legal English Academy, too.

© 2020 Cambridge Legal English Academy

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