If you need to prove you can speak English, then it stands a chance you’ve come across the Duolingo English Test.
The Duolingo English Test is now one of the best ways to certify your English proficiency, coming in as one of the most accessible, affordable and recognised accreditations currently available.
In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about the Duolingo English Test. We’ll look at:
- What it is
- How it compares and differs to the alternatives
- How the test works, as well as some sample questions
- How difficult it is and what is considered a good score
- What you need in order to complete it
- How to prepare, and
- Where the Duolingo English Test is accepted
Let’s get into it!
What is the Duolingo English Test?
The Duolingo English Test gives non-native English speakers the opportunity to certify that they can speak English.
Before the Duolingo English Test, certifications like TOEFL and IELTS were the go-to ways of proving to schools, universities and employers that you could speak English.
However, these methods are often expensive and not always accessible to those from lower-income backgrounds.
Duolingo recognised this problem, and launched the Duolingo English Test in 2016.
The main draw of the Duolingo English Test is that it can be completed anywhere, anytime, and costs a fraction of some of the more traditional certifications. So long as you have the basic materials (which we’ll look at shortly) and enough to purchase the test, you’re good to go.
The Duolingo English Test is also much shorter than the traditional examinations, lasting only 60 minutes. After you’ve completed the test, you can expect to receive your certificate within 48 hours. You can then forward this to your institution of choice.
Is the Duolingo English Test the same as IELTS?
No, the Duolingo English Test is not the same as IELTS. As above, the Duolingo English Test is designed to be a more accessible and affordable alternative to accreditations like IELTS.
The main differences between the Duolingo English Test and IELTS concern location, availability and price.
IELTS is a traditional in-person exam, which requires you to attend a specific exam centre. The Duolingo English Test, however, is entirely web-based, meaning you don’t have to attend an exam centre — you can complete the entire test from the comfort of your own home.
Opportunities to sit IELTS are also limited. In the UK, for instance, you currently get to choose from one of 65 different test locations and you have to attend at a specific date and time. While there are usually plenty of dates available, there is often only one time slot per day. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel long distances as well.
With the Duolingo English Test, however, you can sit the test whenever you want. You could complete it right now if you really wanted to!
Can you take the Duolingo English Test instead of IELTS or TOEFL?
The Duolingo English Test is designed to be a more accessible and affordable alternative to IELTS and TOEFL. So yes, in theory, you can take the Duolingo English Test instead of IELTS or TOEFL.
That said, this will depend entirely on what and who you require the certification for. Whether it’s work, education or visa-related, you will need to check with the relevant institutions and authorities that they accept the Duolingo English Test.
A growing number of schools, universities and employers around the world now accept the Duolingo English Test, so, in many cases, you should be fine. However, you will need to check this list to be absolutely sure. If you’re unable to find the school, university or employer you were looking for, the safest thing will be to contact them directly.
How the Duolingo English Test works
The Duolingo English Test follows a very simple 60-minute format. It uses machine learning to adapt the test to your specific level, so the questions are never too difficult — or too easy. It will present you with a wide range of questions that will test the full breadth of your English proficiency.
Once you’ve completed the test, you’ll get your results within 48 hours.
The basic format is as follows:
first 5 minutes
Duolingo will introduce you to the test, walking you through the rules and requirements so you know exactly what to expect.
the next 45 minutes
Once you’ve finished the introduction, you’ll be launched into the test. The rump of the test lasts for 45 minutes and includes a series of different questions that will evaluate the strength of your English skills.
the final 10 minutes
The final 10 minutes of the test are dedicated to writing and speaking. Here you’ll be given open-ended prompts, which you’ll need to respond to in either written or spoken form. Your responses will be shared with the institutions or employers that you apply to, along with your overall test score.
For a full walkthrough of the Duolingo English Test, check out this video.
Duolingo English Test sample questions
The Duolingo English test is packed with stacks of different question types, which adapt to your skill level.
Some of the question types you’re likely to come across include:
read and complete
read and select
listen and select
listen and type
complete the sentences
write about the photo
read, then speak
For more examples, be sure to check out englishtest.duolingo.com/readiness.
Is the Duolingo English Test difficult?
In theory, the Duolingo English Test should be challenging for everyone who takes it. Not because it’s inherently difficult, but because the test dynamically tailors itself to your perceived level.
It’s what Duolingo refers to as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). Simply put:
As an individual moves through the test, the items they’re given are determined by their responses to the previous items. That means they won’t waste time on items that are far above or below their proficiency level.Duolingo
In this sense, you should eventually encounter questions that suitably flex your English muscles. It shouldn’t be so difficult that you want to cry into a stuffed animal, but it shouldn’t be so easy that you feel as though you haven’t been challenged.
In many ways, you can view it as a ‘Goldilocks’ English test — it should be ‘just right’ for your specific level.
As such, the guys at Duolingo reckon you might find the test “less stressful and perhaps easier” than a traditional style English exam. Not only do you not have to worry about attending a test centre or splurging large sums of money, but the test will also be much shorter and tailored to your abilities.
Be sure to check out some of these stories from people that have taken the Duolingo English Test.
What is a good score in the Duolingo English Test?
The Duolingo English Test is scored on a scale from 10 – 160. The higher your score, the more proficient you are considered to be.
Duolingo offers some decent conversion tables, which show you how the Duolingo English Test scores compare with TOEFL, IELTS and the CEFR.
The basic conversion for CEFR grades is as follows:
|Duolingo English Test Score||CEFR|
So if you manage 10-55 on the Duolingo English Test, your level would be considered Basic.
If you manage 60-95, your level would be considered Intermediate.
Score 100-125, and your level would be considered Upper Intermediate.
And if you manage anything above 130, your level would be considered Advanced.
How much does the Duolingo English Test cost?
As of September 2022, the Duolingo English Test costs $49 (plus any additional taxes). Once you’ve purchased the test, you can take it any time in the next 21 days.
Alternatively, you can buy 2 tests at a discounted rate of $39 each (so $78 in total) and share your best result with your chosen institution.
Duolingo English Test requirements
The beauty of the Duolingo English test is you can take it anywhere at any time. It’s super convenient and affordable, and you only need a few things to complete it.
To complete the Duolingo English Test, you will need:
- Passport, driver’s licence, or government ID
- A quiet, well-lit room
- 60 minutes of free time in which you won’t be disturbed
- A stable, reliable internet connection
- A computer
Your computer will need:
- To be running either Windows or Mac operating systems
- A front-facing camera, either built-in or external
- A microphone
How to prepare for the Duolingo English Test
As with any test, the best way to prepare is to practice.
It goes without saying that you should be practicing your English regularly, both in an active and passive sense. You’ll also want to consider sitting a practice test, which you can do easily and for free from the Duolingo English Test homepage.
Simply click here to be taken to the Duolingo English Test homepage. Then, click PRACTICE FREE.
Once you’ve signed up for a free account, you’ll get the option to sit a 15-minute practice test. You can take this as many times as you want, which will get you used to the format and what’s expected before diving into the real thing.
Where is the Duolingo English Test accepted?
As of September 2022, the Duolingo English Test is accepted by over 3,500 institutions worldwide. This is at several levels, including undergraduate, graduate and secondary school.
To see a list of accepted institutions, click here. You’ll be able to search by institution name or location.
As of September 2022, the Duolingo English Test is accepted at close to 1,400 undergraduate institutions in the USA and 64 in the UK.
And at graduate level, it’s accepted at 792 institutions in the USA and 55 institutions in the UK.
The Duolingo English Test has made it more accessible than ever to certify your English proficiency. It’s affordable, convenient and recognised by thousands of institutions and employers globally — and the list is growing!
Have you sat the Duolingo English Test? How did you find it?
Let me know in the comments below.