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TOEFL and IELTS tests suspended in many areas but alternate testing options on the way

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Students and institutions are understandably anxious about TOEFL and IELTS language test suspensions in many parts of the world, but both testing companies and institutions are working hard to minimise the disruption
  • For the moment, testing remains suspended through at least late-March or early-April in a number of countries
TOEFL and IELTS tests suspended in many areas but alternate testing options on the way

The COVID-19 coronavirus has significantly disrupted testing schedules for the two of the most prominent standard tests for language proficiency in the world: TOEFL and IELTS. This has important implications for the upcoming academic year and the extent to which students can comply with admissions requirements for their intended colleges and universities. As a result:

  1. IELTS has suspended testing in dozens of countries/cities in line with official requirements and guidance from healthcare authorities and is making plans to ramp up testing again in affected centres as soon as it is safe again to do so;
  2. TOEFL has also suspended testing in many places but the Educational Testing Service is working to provide a test by the end of March that can be taken at home in locations where in-person testing has been suspended;
  3. Many institutions are making arrangements to accept alternate tests that can be taken on-demand, online, and at home, and/or are adjusting deadlines for filing test results to give students some flexibility in meeting those requirements.

Where IELTS testing has been suspended

According to the IELTS website as of 16 March 2020, testing has been suspended in the following places:

Mainland China and Macau SAR

  • Mainland China – Tests currently suspended until end of March 2020
  • Macau SAR – Tests currently suspended until 28 March 2020

Albania – Tests currently suspended until 23 March 2020
Austria, Innsbruck – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
Bhutan – Tests currently suspended until 21 March 2020
Bosnia – Tests currently suspended until 27 March 2020
Bulgaria – Tests currently suspended until 27 March 2020
Denmark – Tests currently suspended
Estonia –Tests currently suspended
France – Tests currently suspended from 15-30 March 2020
Georgia, Tbilisi – Tests currently suspended until 27 March 2020
Greece – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020
Iraq – Tests currently suspended until 14 March 2020 
Italy – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
Korea – Tests currently suspended until 22 March 
Kosovo – Tests currently suspended until 23 March 2020
Malta – Tests currently suspended until 21 March 2020
Mongolia – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
Netherlands – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
North Macedonia – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020
Norway – Tests currently suspended 
Palestine Territories – Tests currently suspended until 27 March 2020
Peru, Lima – Tests are currently suspended at Universidad del Pacifico until 21 March 2020 for paper-based and 27 March 2020 for computer-delivered.
Poland – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020
Portugal – Tests currently suspended until 12 April 2020
Qatar – Tests currently suspended until 21 March 2020
Romania – Tests currently suspended
Saudi Arabia – Tests currently suspended
Serbia – Tests currently suspended until 27 March 2020
Spain – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020 
Turkmenistan, Ashgabat – Tests currently suspended until 14 March 2020 
United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
United Kingdom, Aberdeen – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
United States of America

  • ELS, Santa Monica, CA (US085) – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • ELS, San Diego, CA (US087) –Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • ELS, Portland, OR (US 092) – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • ELS, St. Louis, MO (US 293) – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • ELS, St. Paul, MN (US 311) – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • ELS, La Verne, CA (US 596) – Tests currently suspended until 31 March 2020
  • EMU, Ypsilanti, MI (UX140) – Tests are currently suspended

Vietnam, Hanoi – Tests currently suspended until 14 March 2020

What IELTS is doing

The IELTS Partners are also looking into various solutions to support test takers, including:

  • “Increased test session availability in regions impacted by suspensions as soon as we can restart testing;
  • Ensuring capability to double paper-based testing in China as soon as we restart testing;
  • Supporting test takers with free preparation materials in readiness for their test;
  • Increased frequency of computer-delivered IELTS test sessions in affected areas, up to three times per day, seven days per week;
  • Larger venues will be used to accommodate increased volumes of test takers for paper-based IELTS;
  • More flexible use of Speaking Examiners from around the world to ensure test takers can complete their Speaking tests as quickly as possible.”

The at-home TOEFL

TOEFL is working on a plan to allow students to take the exam from home. ETS says:

“We expect to introduce this in selected locations impacted by the coronavirus outbreak outside of Mainland China by end of March. ETS is working closely with relevant government agencies and other partners in Mainland China so that we can provide a solution for test takers as quickly as possible there.”

Srikant Gopal, Executive Director of the TOEFL Programme, adds:

“We understand the pressure and stress students in impacted areas are under during this difficult time and are doing everything we can to make the testing process as seamless as possible, whether that is offering the at-home solution or adding seats when testing resumes. We also understand the pressure many institutions are under to come up with alternate ways of assessing English-language proficiency during this time, even if they do not meet high standards for assessment quality or security. This TOEFL testing solution from ETS will ensure there is no need to compromise standards. It’s still the high-quality, research-based test everyone knows and trusts that meets ETS’s high standards for validity, reliability and security.”

For additional background, please see:


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