The Jordanian Education System: Confusing!

The Jordanian Education System: Confusing!

While talking to my cousin today who graduated high school with 3 SAT’s, I learned that she cannot enroll into any Jordanian Universities because apparently the Ministry of Education in Jordan only accepts 7 SAT’s in order to have your high school classes transferred to Tawjihi Equivalency! Which didn’t make any sense to me at all; I know you need to have 7 Tawjihi’s in order to graduate successfully and enroll into an undergraduate program, but it is possible that they have used the same tactic with SATs?

For those of you who are wondering why 7 SAT’s are too much, it’s because most Universities in the United States and the world require 3 SAT’s, for example Harvard which usually ranks #1 or #2 of all schools in the U.S. With an endowment around $35 billion and more financial resources at its disposal than any other university in the world only requires 3 SATS (depending on the major you chose to study, you can go in with 2 SAT IIs) what makes Jordan think it has a better education that some of the world class universities out there by asking for 7 SATs?

In light of my cousin’s frustration of not wanting to leave Jordan, I decided to do some massive research on the education system in Jordan, only to learn that it is complicated, full of ignorance, hypocritical and a recipe for disaster for some members of the current generation who will probably be the future of this country. Kindly allow me to elaborate:

If the Jordanian Ministry of Education requires (7 SATs) in order to grant Jordanian Students a tawjihi equivalency to proceed with their college education, why are their high schools in Jordan that graduate students with a high school diploma or 3 SATs? Many might argue that it’s ok, maybe the parents of those students approve of this, and that’s fine, but raising the bar to 7 SAT’s where Universities in the United States and Canada only requires 3, is merely encouraging students to seek other options off Jordanian soil?

You don’t even have to go to America or far abroad to continue your education, the American University of Beirut is geographically closer than Aqaba is to Amman, if it weren’t for waiting at the border that is! Why are we pushing our Jordanian Youth to seek education elsewhere? Why are we pushing the future leaders and entrepreneurs of this country to study abroad where they can get a really good education in Jordan? Furthermore, Jordan is a third world country, so is it too much having Jordanians spend their tuition in Jordan, where it will cost them less than half the price of studying abroad (given the tuition fees, accommodation fees, cost of living and transportation fees)?

Furthermore, why is the Ministry treating our kids like full grown adults at the age of 16 and 17? My cousin has personally studied and was raised abroad, but I am glad she finally made it back home to Jordan. However back in the day when she was in High School, well let’s face it, she didn’t have the best grades, and she only finished High School with a 2.5 GPA in terms of Jordan that would be 62.6 % which would apply if she  was living here, would not allow her to study Engineering or Business or Marketing. However because she was in the United States, things are different; they look at High School students as bright leaders to be. So they allow you to study whatever major you choose no matter what you finish with from High School; however you do need to get really good grades by then in order to finish and get your degree. But at least they give their kids (future leaders) a chance to became something great not shoot them down at 17 because they had some fun in tawjihi year. In case you are wondering, she did finish her BA Degree in Business with Honors and almost done with her MBA also with Honors, and that was with a 62.6 % High School. It sometimes makes me wonder what if she did her high school in Jordan, where would she be today.  I am sorry not all of us are mature by 17 years of age; maybe you should take that into consideration before you start killing the dreams of parents, and kids all over the Kingdom.

We do have American and other foreign universities here in Jordan. So I called to see if I didn’t have all my SATs or didn’t have my Tawjihi Equivalency would I be allowed to study considering they are American or German and in America you only need High School Diploma. BUT the answer was also NO, because even though they are American or whatever, they still have to go by Ministry regulations.

But here is where it got confusing to me and I am sure to you once you read this. I asked an American University with regards to Masters Program, only to find out that In January the Ministry of Higher Education made an announcement that Undergraduate Students who wish to pursue their higher education and have a 2.0 GPA can enroll into Masters Programs, as long as they have a TOEFL score of 400? Now that’s when things got really interesting. An American University in Jordan requires 550 TOEFL and after checking, I found out that it is the only University in Jordan with a 550 TOEFL requirement, and that is imposed on them by the Ministry!!!!! I am lost!!! Why is that the American University in Jordan have a 550 TOEFL Score requirements? Yet everyone else 400?

So I double checked their website in America only to find that in America they require the 550. So in other words, it seemed to me like the Ministry is enforcing regulations as they please not because it makes sense. So our kids in Jordan can’t register in the American University without Tawjihi Equivalency even though in America they don’t ask for it, yet we ask them to go by the higher 550 TOEFL when we the Ministry don’t require it but the Americans do? Does that make much to sense to you? Because really, it’s confusing and doesn’t make any sense to me at all!

I am sorry having such Universities in Jordan is pointless. I mean come on, what is the point of having an American or German University in Jordan if they are being forced to run under Jordan regulations, I as might as well send them to any university in Jordan, how can we call that an American education or German education when it is based on Jordan’s education. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying American or German Universities are better than Jordan University or JUST. However it makes you wonder why parents are sending their kids to foreign universities when they are really not foreign.

Maybe next we should start telling Mercedes and Toyota you can only make cars like our Al-Badi Jordanian Military Produced car. If you are going to have foreign Universities in Jordan, maybe we should let them be foreign.


Director of Digital Marketing Strategy by Day, Blogger by Night. Mother to my lovely Hana and a food addict.

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  1. “I am not saying American or German Universities are better than Jordan University or JUST.”

    You should say that, because they are. I study at the German university here, and we suffering from all the draconic MoE measures. I would say it’s not worth it, but I would be lying, after going through all the ministry imposed subjects, I believe studying at the GJU made me a better and more qualified graduate. Just think how better the experience would be if it was a 100% German university.

  2. Sm1 has done their homework 🙂
    Pretty neat entry I must say.

    إحنا منظومتنا التعليمية مضروبة بحجر … ضخم

    It`s not enough to say that we r one the best educational systems (r we!?) in the region and stay put!

    Besides, reality says other wise.
    I too think that our regulations in the educational system are pushing ppl far away, most of them do NOT come back; even if they do, longing to break-away in the 1st semi-available opportunity.

    The system has many flaws, remedying them is not a miracal! It needs careful planning + a lot of hard work with dedication. And it IS worth it.

    Issues like equivalency (in all sorts), getting the chance to re-inter uni with yr old tawjihi mark, and a whole more need to be carefully re-re-re-re examined.

    Thx again,


  3. Hey, I did my IGCSE equivalency a couple of days ago, and it was easy and smooth. I actually didn’t believe I was in Jordan.

    Now I don’t know about the “American” universities in Jordan, however I would like to shed light upon the “German” university.

    It’s not “German” exactly, since it’s called the “German JORDANIAN University”, it’s a bled of the two countries. The things that Germany does are send tutors, helps with the money and spread it’s culture. Otherwise, it is controlled by Arabs. Their system of accepting students is a bit different than the other universities. However they do require the Ministry of Educations rules, because it’s a “Jordanian” University after all.

    Now, as I said I don’t know about other universities. But in the GJU they only accept students with “higher” marks; so that they can make sure they have the ability to move on with the pressure it provides. I just know the precentage of Arabian contribution in the system is much more than the German.

    And about the 7 SATs, that doesn’t make sense. But to be honest, even Jordanian Tawjihi is better than SAT. That’s my opinion.

    I hope that your cousin would find a solution to his/her problem soon. 🙂

    • Yes Eva, I did my IGCSE equivelency back in 2004, and I must agree, it went rather smoothly. But from day one of enrolling into the IGCSE System I knew the ministry rules and regulation, I knew that IGCSE Math and Arabic where mandatory and that I need a total of 6 O-Levels and two A-Levels to transfer my GCSE Grades to match the Jordanian certifications and thats fine.

      But with SAT’s in Jordan some schools (and I chose to remain discrete about the school name) are going by the American and Global Standards, so their students graduate with a high school diploma and not enough SATs to get an equivalence. So it doesn’t make sense to have all of those students in Jordan if they cant study here because the Ministry requires 7 SATs. Furthermore, if IGCSE exams are clear in Jordan in terms of equivalancy, why aren’t SATs? Why allow American Schools to work on Jordanian Soil, if our very own Jordanian Students will be nothing but lost and confused and looking to study else where, outside of Jordan because their school can operate with teaching 3 SATs while the local rules and regulations require 7? Get my drift?

      • Yes, I guess I got your drift now. It’s the school’s fault. They should at least give a “head’s up” to the students enrolling. And I seriously hope that your cousin straights out her/his situation.

  4. The facts presented above are not accurate regarding the TOEFL.
    The TOEFL requirements are as follows:
    1) 550 for universities teaching programs in English like NYIT
    2) 550 for students who want to enroll in English language programs anywhere in private and public universities like in UJ or Petra
    3) 500 for Sciences any where
    4) 400 for Humanities ans social sciences taught in Arabic language any where.
    Not confusing at all, but practical

    • Thank You Dr. Maani for the clarification on the TOEFL Requirements for Graduate Studies. I appreciate your time in logging to SLEEPLESS IN AMMAN and clarifying my misunderstandings to the TOEFL Requirements.

  5. Let me also point to some other facts: SAT I is not recognized in Jordan unless coupled with SAT II, The MOE requires 7 subjects. If u go anywhere and study using only 3 SAT II subjects, the degree u obtain will not be recognized in Jordan. So one should be careful when one wants to study abroad, if he plans to return to this country.

    • Yes Dr. Maani I do understand this, I personally am safe, I did my A-Levels and got my equivalency for my High-school and Bachelors degree in Jordan.

      However, I am wondering why do World-Class Colleges like Harvard accept 3 SATS, whereas in Jordan we need to have 7 Just to get a tawjihi equivalency to enroll into an Under Graduate program?!

      However, this is an answer that I am hoping his Excellency the Minister of Education would answer, as it falls under his jurisdiction.

      Thank you once again for answering my questions, I am glad and really impressed to find more highly ranked Jordanian Officials on twitter and answering blog posts now a days, including yourself. It makes a difference in Jordan and makes it a better place.


  6. I must agree with the general idea of this post.

    The ministry of education needs to reconsider many of it’s requirements.

    My friend attends SAE and because the ministry does not acknowledge a 2 year bachelor degree(which is what the univeristy provides, even abroad) she has to wait and take more courses until the problem is resolved. They first made them take another semester and now might extended 3 more months all because the time span of the degree does not suite the ministry.

    I think we need to stop backwards way of thinking and stop trying to change international univeristies’ guidelines to fit the ministry’s wishes, when they obviously work everywhere else in the world. We need to stop complicating things.

    If a degree only requires two years of study then it’s not the ministry’s choice to force the educational institution into another 2 years leading to more expenses for students and time wasted.

  7. WOW about time someone talked about this issue. Well, here is my 2 cents on this matter. To start with going back to Mr. Maani and “The MOE requires 7 subjects. If u go anywhere and study using only 3 SAT II subjects, the degree u obtain will not be recognized in Jordan.” That is true however; that only applies on government jobs. Meaning if you only have 3 SAT IIs and let us say go to USA and study at San Diego State University, you can always come back to Jordan and get almost any job you want, and your degree is valid and recognized at any company in Jordan that you apply to Zain, Orange, …etc and the list goes on. However if you are trying to be I don’t know the next Prime Minister or something, then odds are you can’t because your degree is not recognized. To make a long story short, if you are planning to work in government get your 7 subject. Otherwise you are fine.
    Honestly I like to see our great Queen reply to this, because sometimes I feel like our Queen goes on TV and says we should focus on our kids education more. Which is a great thing, but I feel like that everyone (in government that is) tries to help without really having a clear picture of where we should be going with it in order to accomplish her Majesties great goals.
    By the way, the 550 score is really high. Most US students who have English as a first language can’t get that score, yet we are asking everyone who want to get their MBA to get a 550 even though English is their second language! That’s almost telling them in an indirect way not to bother trying. Maybe we should at least give the MBA students the first year of study before attaining the 550 score, this way they will have the first year as a refreshment year as well as working to finish their MBA. I personally if I am trying to get MBA and I couldn’t get the 550 on the first 2 tries odds are, I will get sucked back into the work routine and stop trying. On the other hand, if I do register and start, I will keep trying no matter what. In case you are wondering why I am focused on the 550 is because I rather do my MBA in English. The way things are working out in Jordan with work, we almost have stopped using Arabic at all, so as might as well improve my English more.

  8. I wish this matter would be changed by the government because I’m suffering from it! I came here 2010 Summer after studying in America my entire life and when I get here I go to apply to college and they tell me I need to take the SAT II and not 3 subjects, but 7!!! To this day I have only completed one my peers are already in school back in America while I’m here “trying to “re-graduate basically” high-school! If I could leave this place and go back I would, but sadly my father doesn’t want to move back so I’m stuck in a hell hole; that’s what everyday feels like and the thing is I don’t think test scores prove anything I’m not the greatest test taker, but ask any of my teachers and they’d tell you that I’m a smart, ambitious girl, who’s not only bright but has great ideas and definitely has it made in whatever I do decide to pursue…and so on! The American Education System is so much better…it’s so sad that after years of not seeing this place I come back hoping things are different to only see and get hit in the face with this!

    • Hey,after reading about you,I would appreciate it if you tell me what did you end up taking and doing?I am now going through similar problems,and I feel like I wont make it.I am really scared.I am still pretty young but I gotta start earlier in order to succeed as I am not good in Arabic.Arabic is my first/second language.And English is my third and the best.My parents are planning to go back to Jordan once I graduate school.But I am not looking forward to taking SATs because it is crazy that we gotta take 7 more exams which 3 are in Arabic.I really wanna know what others ended up doing.I have a choice now which I hate and disagree on.

  9. Very well said !
    You’re absolutely right. The Jordanian education system and accreditation criteria are very confusing and don’t make the least amount of sense. Unfortunately!

  10. Hi, I’m a student from the U.S. who just finished High School and got her diploma and the tawjihi equivalency which in my opinion isn’t even fair to those holding a foreign diploma because we worked just as hard to graduate and we took many exams and the ACT and Harvard doesn’t even require as many SAT II Exams as you all do in Amman…I would love to have a chance to finish alongside my peers and not have to wait another year without college because of the SAT II Tawjihi Equivalency!!! Thank You! Requirements should be like those of AUC

  11. Hi, I’m a student from the U.S. who just finished High School and got her diploma and the tawjihi equivalency which in my opinion isn’t even fair to those holding a foreign diploma because we worked just as hard to graduate and we took many exams and the ACT and Harvard doesn’t even require as many SAT II Exams as you all do in Amman… I would love to have a chance to finish alongside my peers and not have to wait another year without college because of the SAT II Tawjihi Equivalency!!! Thank You! Requirements should be like those of AUC

  12. I feel like crap; the Sat II is not an easy test what so ever. I’ve contemplated suicide to be honest because of all the stress it’s causing me with everything from my family to my education; it’s getting way too out of control! I’m just sick of all of this; some of the greatest minds failed things many times it was only because someone gave them a chance that people found out how genius they were (even Albert Einstein)! In Jordan they don’t give you a fair chance if anything they take years out of your life like how do you know I can’t be good at being a doctor or something test scores don’t mean you don’t have what it takes; you won’t I have what it takes unless you give a person a chance, but no over here test score determines everything; it doesn’t matter if you’re not passionate about what you get stuck with! <I've seen so many people in Jordan work professional jobs and yeah they passed the test, but they sure as heck said themselves they'd rather have studied a subject they were passionate about and care about it by heart! "; <I agree these requirements are a lot better than those of Jordan!!! It's not my fault that I didn't take arabic "Tawjihi" I got an american diploma and if the system wanted they could easily convert my grade point average, but they won't and they never will. I've sent the queen numerous amounts of emails, yet she hasn't addressed one! I thought a women that would speak so highly of education would give all children an opportunity rather than stand in their way; I was wrong! The thing is I'm a smart student, but tests are not my strongest point I'm not a good test taker! 7 subjects SAT II is so unfair it's not even funny how BS it is! The sad thing is I have no way out of this bloody hell hole: I have to try my hardest no matter how long it takes me and no matter how much pain I have to go through, because I'm not a quitter and an Education means the world to me! Wish me Luck and Hopefully the requirements get fixed so they will work out better for everyone!

  13. i really agree with you.
    i’m studying in Dubai in the American system schools and my grades more than great.
    i heard that i need to get the SAT II in order for me to go to a college in Jordan, but even if i pass the SAT II i might not be able to study what i want.
    i’m preparing myself right now for the SAT II because i’m planning to take it this summer, and i’m still in grade 10 going to 11.
    they told me that if i dont take it before i finish high school, i’d be 1 year late, that’s why my parents are fussing over it.
    you really have a point, i’m actually considering going to another country to study i mean after all the Jordanin universities are not better than the Candain, American of the British universities.
    i just wish they’ll at least change the required SAT II’s to 3 SAT II’s.

    • no wonder why education in the UAE suck! a simple glance on your (English) comments shows how bad education in Dubai is! not defending college requirements in Jordan (cant stand it here), but you really need to work harder on your English, buddy!

  14. i had the same problem
    they told me you need to take the 7 sats, i laughed n i said you must be really stupid to retake what i worked hard for
    they think their schools are top notch education hah
    and people wonder why theres no jobs and why the people are suffering over there
    his Majesty should do something about it
    i mean they should be really thankful to have people from high end country’s to go study in their “school”

    just the education system there cant be described
    i mean most of the twajhi student there fail , they make them go into a depression when it comes to the last year of school, its like being in a horror movie where if you close your eye, you will die lol

    seriously my cousin passed the tawjhi there although he suffered like he was an old man that is about to die

    they just make too much. and i dont know for what
    its not like having the tawjhi will make you a scientist or a money printing machine
    thats why most arab countrys= FAIL
    except the UAE allah yedemha o ye5aleha
    the only arab country the an arab can be proud of
    at least for me. but i feel you sleepless
    u should change the title from confusing to messed up 😉


  16. salam

    can any body tell me plz, which score is acceptable in Jordan for entering master degree,

    thanks a lot

  17. Well, that sucks cuz im planning on studying in jordan myself and finding this out is horrible. i won’t be in till january since I have to take 7 of those and that won’t stop me from entering college in usa for the semester just incase! Anyway, which subjects do they want, or it doesn’t matter which ones, does it? :/
    I don’t tend to stress out much but I wish they should ask for 3 not 7…I could take all three in june :/ and enter uni by august but nooo 7 is quite alot so im gona have to wait till january a555 inshallah 5air for me and everyone out there 🙂

  18. great post ! finally someone feels the pain im going thruogh.
    after i went to study highschool in the us and graduated in highschool,so i decided to go back and study alongside my friends in jordan. But i was shocked when i saw that i need 7(not 3) Sat subject tests while Harvard and other world-class universities only require 3. well,this sucks , think the educational system in jordan should be reformed because its full of non-sense. these tests are intended to measure and demonstrate a student’s ability, not to be assessed solely on that test.

  19. this is the dumbest thing i have ever heard,
    i was a SAT student myself, i finished 13 sat subjects.
    within my senior year and i believe its more than fair to everyone
    because honey well your not the the freakin USA.
    you cant compare any student in jordan to students abroad you need to compare them with the tawjihi systems students,
    tawjihi students undergo almost 23 tests in their senior year
    and they need to pass all of them have a high school diploma
    and if they failed one subject just one subject they are held back a semester until they pass it.
    so your saying that your cousin
    how has only finished 3 tests
    should have an equal shot at getting into the major she wants with the student who did 25 test?
    second, when in Rome do as the romans do.
    i think since shes frustrated about leaving jordan,well then you guys should have been searching for the jordanian requirements not just waste time by comparing with harvard.
    you talk about equality but all i see is a bunch of people asking for special treatment they did not deserve
    and in jordan we have high education standers,and its known in the middle east and even in the us that we have a very strong system.
    and please compare correctly because in the states a 16 year old is allowed to drive and most have jobs which to me is maturity.

    • honey, they require 7 SAT II subjects in addition to the high school years. where do i have to focus, some students just lose both. in my case now im totally lost, dont know where to focus. i’ve got an SAT exam at 26 jan which needs months to study and just before that i’ve got school Midyear exams… so u have no idea what a SAT student goes through.

  20. rashed alkhzaie : December 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    am glad to find someone talking about this matter finally. I am a Jordanian guy raised outside all of my life, graduated from Cambridge highschool in dubai with a GPA of 3.73/4 and 5 SAT subject test scores along with the regular SAT at a score of 2600. Furthermore I was and still excited to finally go to my home land but after highschool I was not accepted in neither the Jordanian university nor the university of queen sumaia. I am currently completing my bachelor degrees in business MIS with a minor of business law emphasis on international business on a scholarship at the Baron’s school of business at the Arizona state university in the USA. I dont understand why would my own country reject me when countries on the other side of this planet welcome me with honor degrees opportunities. what I would like to know is regarding University degrees, many are telling me that I will not be able to use my bachelor’s degree in jordan if I do not complete the tawjihi equivalency is that right? and if yes, is there a way to get around without having to have 7 SAT scores?

  21. yes , it is the problem of the organization , the educational system is totally unfair , some people with lower GPA got a better admissions than those with excellent academic standing , i exactly know what is inside the education system , universities graduates on the same subjects got the same advantages what ever the university , many of our universities make it complicated to graduate , others just want the students’ money and they are not thinking whether the students have the enough skills or not ,it is mix of social injustice , investment and bad management.

  22. I know what you’re talking about because I’m going to have to go through the same thing now. That’s why I’m planning on making a movement against that equivalency rule in the ministry of education. Because what we SAT students have to go through is just way too much! Even Harvard doesn’t require that many subject tests. So are you in??

  23. east or west , you have to study

  24. I was accepted and received a scholarship at Duke University’s PhD program. A year before that, I was trying to get into the Business Economics PhD program at Jordan University, but guess what, my application was rejected. It looks like intelligent people are not welcomed in Jordan. After being rejected by the university of Jordan, I felt so stupid for applying. Duke university ranks #8 among national universities, this is the biggest proof that in Jordan “El-gari wel 5ari” wa7ad.

    • Alot needs to be done for the education system to be improved here. As much as I love Jordan as a country, I feel that our higher education will continue to go down hill at the current juncture. Yes, we do have the highest literacy level for students making it to high school, especially that public school costs close to nothing. However, like you said, many smart people who are being accepted at world renowned universities aren’t being accepted here because of an old system and a bureaucracy that is clearly not working. I hope to see a change soon because this is a shame. This post was written in 2010, that’s six years ago, and not much has changed.

  25. She didn’t even let me express my opinion. Arabs are taugh since childhood that freedom of speech is 3aib

    • Hi Khalid, I actually moderate the comments before they go online, many people come in and leave profanities, or I end up with a lot of SPAM in the comments field. I am more than happy featuring your comment on my blog. Freedom of speech is not 3aib at all, or else I wouldn’t have an online blog.

  26. Great topic, so glad you brought it up! I would like to see a discussion about the schools
    in the Kingdom that do teach SAT. Most of these schools are businesses….period. Personally,
    we are trying to work around the system. We want a descent education and also want to have the option
    of attending Jordanian Universities. One of the biggest obsticles are the SAT schools.
    You can’t expect to get much of an education from these schools. They basically teach test
    taking strageties, at best. They are way over priced and they are so unorganized it is
    pathetic. I can’t overemphasize how underqualified these schools are.

    For us, I think the best solution is to have them attend a private Islamic school (National Strand)
    until 9th grade (that way, they get a foundation in Arabic, they are comfortable with being Muslims, and
    they are exposed to REAL Jordanian culture). For 9th-11th, I am thinking an online American
    school and for 12th grade enroll them in a SAT school JUST for the purpose of being able to
    take the SAT tests…in order to comply with this 7 SAT Subject tests requirement.

    Any thoughts?

  27. Same struggle here guys, I’m here in the States for only a one year and I have to take 7 SAT’s alongside with the studying and homework in the school! Like literally I have no idea since when the Saudi and other Arab “tawjehi systems” are better than the American; plus that these students have such a great English that they’ll benefit the university, country, or whatever they’ll work on!
    When will we change, SAT’s are so hard especially for a student who just got to the US. Whenever I tell a teacher or a friend that I have to take 7 SAT’s or 6 AP’s they be like:”wtf” excuse me for this word but that’s the truth. And here I am struggling with biology with all these hard scientific words and vocab and a history about a country that I’ve been in roughly for 6 months.
    Thanks Jordan for making this year the worse :).

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