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Everything Should Know About Duolingo English Test

The Duolingo English Test is an adaptive computer test of English proficiency; many universities use it for admissions purposes in English-speaking countries. It also takes between 45 to 60 minutes.

There are various questions on the Duolingo English test in form, which may be new to candidates, live listening to spoken words, and select the real ones. This article covers all you need to know about this test. Let’s get to it:


cropped-shot-university-student-preparing-her-upcoming-exam-with-laptop-books-coffee-white-tableWhat Exactly is the Duolingo English Test?

The Duolingo English Test (DET) is a standard online exam that you take on your computer. Like other routine exams, it tests all four language skills, including reading, listening, speaking, and writing. But it tests these skills in pretty new ways!

COVID-19 pandemic shut down test centers in many countries, and significant tests, including the TOEFL and IELTS, could not be administered. The Duolingo is an at-home test, and thus many universities began accepting its scores as a measure of applicants’ English proficiency.

They launched a revised version of the DET in July 2019, and many universities worldwide accept its scores for admission purposes.

About half of top U.S. universities accept it in place of the IELTS or TOEFL. These universities include Yale, Duke, Columbia, and many other leading schools.

The test is adaptive. If you can answer an item correctly, the next question gets more challenging. If you answer not correctly, the next one gets easier.

Meaning that, with relatively few questions, the exam can pinpoint your ability level quickly, so it only takes about an hour to complete.

Unlike traditional exams, you can take the Duolingo English Test from your computer. Of course, there are many caveats; this means the company isn’t paying for test centers or computers, so it also means that it only ends up costing you just about $50.

However, it’s essential to pay attention to how these schools accept Duolingo as you review the Duolingo site. It can be used either to meet any English requirements or in combination with other exams at 465 institutions.

What is the Difference between Duolingo, IELTS, and TOEFL?

A positive point for those looking at Duolingo compared to IELTS is that IELTS is usually needed over two days at a testing center. Beyond the exam’s practicalities, there are many differences in the format that you should consider before choosing one over the other.

Both test all four language skills. But you won’t see long texts on the Duolingo exam. Instead, the test works by examining language ability through language items like idioms and intonation.

IELTS test contains traditional item types, such as multiple-choice, short answer, and essay questions, while Duolingo’s questions take on new formats.

The significant difference in terms of format is that Duolingo is adaptive, while IELTS’s structure is standard, meaning it is not adaptive.

This means that Duolingo can evaluate your English skills in a pretty short amount of time and only does so on a computer, whereas IELTS is offered in both computer and paper-based forms.

Finally, while IELTS has two versions, Duolingo English test only has one, its general test. However, it’s worth noting that some universities accept Duolingo, so it can still be used for academic purposes.

How about TOEFL?

Compared with the famous TOEFL exam, even though they’re both computer-based tests, there are many differences between these two tests.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that Duolingo item types seem different than traditional test items. There aren’t long, sophisticated texts to read, listen to, or write about.

Most of the questions on this test are relatively brief and based on real-life events. Interestingly some of the items don’t look anything like any English test question you’ve ever taken.

In comparison, the TOEFL focuses more on scenarios you’re likely to encounter in the real-life, particularly in the academic world. If you do well on traditional exams, you may prefer to stay on familiar ground with TOEFL’s literary texts and campus-based scenarios.

The TOEFL exam divides question type by section, including reading, listening, speaking, and writing, while the Duolingo exam blends all questions into a single test. For example, you may encounter a reading question following a writing question. This requires thinking on your feet and changing gears pretty quickly.

The TOEFL is primarily a computer-based test too, but It’s not adaptive. The difficulty of the questions doesn’t have anything to do with your previous answers. On the other hand, the Duolingo exam is adaptive throughout the whole test, so items change according to everything you’ve answered on the test so far.

What are the Different Parts of the Duolingo English Test?

You’ll see various test questions on the Duolingo English test in formats that may be new to you. The tests include:

  • Listening to spoken words or sentences and selecting the real ones,
  • Reviewing written words or sentences and determining the real ones,
  • Completing missing letters from words in a text,
  • Describing an image in writing or aloud,
  • Recording yourself saying a written ruling,
  • Verbally answering a spoken question,
  • Responding in writing to a written question,
  • And typing out a sentence that you hear on the computer.

In addition to the above, Duolingo includes a video interview section, in which you speak for 1 to 3 minutes on a topic you choose from two offered ones. This section is ungraded but goes along with your test results to universities and can be a great addition to your application.

Duolingo English test takes between 45 to 60 minutes. But it depends on your ability in language skills. Because the exam is adaptive, meaning a proficient speaker will have a shorter test.

It’s tricky to prepare for the Duolingo test, as it measures everything from how natural your intonation is to your ability to describe a photo you’ve never seen before accurately! There are some things you can do to ensure you’re ready to take the exam.

The best work you can do for your score on the Duolingo exam is to work on your full English proficiency using high-level materials. This includes reading well-written articles, like the Wall Street Journal or other famous newspapers and magazines, listening to podcasts in English including rel-life stories, and having as many talks as you can with native English speakers.

It’s essential to take the short practice test because the Duolingo English test will present you with unusual item types. This practice will familiarize you with what you’re going to see on the actual exam.

The Duolingo English test sample is also an excellent opportunity to understand how the test interface works. It’s pretty intuitive but still requires a little getting used. Besides, you’ll get used to working within the exam’s constraints.

Credit rating on a blue table, pen, glasses.How do They Score Duolingo Test?

The Duolingo test for English is primarily a computer-scored exam. However, to ensure that candidates are following rules, Duolingo does use proctors.

These proctors observe the video of you taking the test. Every experience is recorded, interestingly down to your keystrokes! Two independent reviewers will watch the computer screen; They control any other faces, background noise, and typical red flags.

Once the test is over, you’ll receive a score from 10 to 160. This score is a holistic one, not broken down by section. Top education programs worldwide may require a score above 120, but requirements vary, so check with your intended school.

Interestingly you can also see how your score on Duolingo roughly correlates to TOEFL and IELTS scores after taking it! So you know how you would do on other famous exams too.

Duolingo Test Center developed and now administers this language proficiency test, and it also is responsible for scoring the exams and notifying the test-takers on their score.


The Duolingo English Test is a modern standard language proficiency exam designed for today’s international students and institutions, especially in the COVID pandemic era. It offers an English proficiency score, video interview, and writing sample in an accessible, efficient, and secure testing experience.

If you’re applying to schools and universities that accept it, it could be the right choice for you. However, if you’re more comfortable with traditional testing and have trouble switching gears, you might find it trickier than you think.

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