IELTS testing resumes in Syria for the first time since 2010!

For the first time since 2010, IELTS testing recently took place in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on 20 August at the City of Jasmine Hotel, with over 100 test takers.

IELTS testing resumes in Syria for the first time since 2010!


In this interview, IDP Lebanon Test Centre Administrator Randy Santiago talks about the resumption of IELTS testing in Syria, its challenges, and plans for the future.

IDP: Randy, IELTS testing had been unavailable in Syria since before the beginning of the civil war there in 2011. What were test-takers saying about being able to sit the test locally again after such a long time?

Randy: I think generally test takers were excited by the news of finally being able to take the IELTS test in Syria again - it was like a dream come true for Syrians to have IELTS back in their country! There was a flurry of activity on social media, YouTube live and Facebook, with test takers commenting, and asking how to register and reserve a place. Of course, there were many questions from test takers like about the location of the test venue and plans for future tests, all of which we were happy to answer. It was awesome to see people in Syria reacting so positively to our campaign.

IDP: What motivated IDP Lebanon to resume testing in Syria now?

There were a few factors which eventually resulted in our decision to resume testing. Firstly, there was the border situation; Syrian test takers had been coming to Lebanon to take the test, however, due to recent changes in the political situation in Lebanon, it became difficult for Syrians to continue to do this. Also, the pandemic also impacted travel between the two countries due to travel restrictions, but these were recently lifted in full. Another factor was related to immigration and study abroad needs. Many Syrians want to immigrate/study for the future of their families and have sufficient sources to fund and start their life overseas. However, due to the lack of testing centers and availability of the test, their ability to apply has been limited.

IDP: What logistical and security issues did you need to consider before deciding to run the test?

Randy: Resuming testing in Syria posed a few concerns for us. One key challenge was to find a facility which would best meet our requirements in terms of security, health and safety, uninterrupted power supply, internet connection speed, and suitable furniture, all of which contribute to optimising the experience for all candidates on test day. We also had to re-engage with the Syrian government to cover some legal aspects of our test operations, which took some time. Also, we had some initial concerns about transporting staff overland from our Beirut centre for the test, however, this turned out to be a smooth process in the end!

IDP: When is the next test? And what are further plans for testing in Syria?

This year we have already successfully administered five paper-based test dates, between August and November, with our next test scheduled for 17 December 2022. Moving forward, we are aiming to schedule at least two test dates per month for both academic and general training tests and have an ongoing plan with the regional team to add new paper-based IELTS locations such as Tartus and Lattakia, on the northern side of Syria.