What Is the Duolingo English Test and How Different Is It From TOEFL or IELTS?

9 minutes reading time (1715 words)

The Duolingo Test, simply put, is an English language proficiency test to assess your ability to read, write, speak, and listen in English. The test comprises multiple-choice and open-ended questions, followed by video interviews to determine your language proficiency and enhance your visa eligibility and university admission.

A certificate of English proficiency is a prerequisite to gaining admission into a university of your choice and pursuing higher education abroad. Now, you might have doubts regarding the basis of assessment of these tests and to what end these tests determine your ability to comprehend and communicate in the English language.

Here, we'll have you updated on the objectives, duration, and syllabus of the Duolingo English Test (DET) and why you should take it if you're desirous of pursuing higher education in the UK. 

Duolingo English Test Pattern 

DET is simple, easy and hassle-free. All you need is a well-lit room and a computer system with a good internet connection, speakers, microphones, and a front camera.

The Duolingo English Test has three segments, each to assess the different aspects of English proficiency and understanding.

  1. Introduction and setup (five minutes)
  2. Adaptive test (45 minutes)
  3. Video interview (10 minutes)

The test takes an hour to complete, and you get your results in 48 hours. As simple as that. 

Duolingo English Test Practice and Preparation Tips:

1. Take a video walkthrough

Before taking the test, understand what the test entails by watching a three-minute video of the test pattern on the Duolingo website. This walkthrough will give insights into how the test works, the kind of questions you'd have to prepare for, and how to register for the DET.

2. Take a sample test

You can take a sample test at the Duolingo website (which would take around 8 mins to complete) to get a better idea of the difficulty levels and the question types to enable you to prepare better for the actual test.

3. Get an idea about Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)

Here's how Duolingo Test works:

The difficulty level of the questions increases with every correct response and vice versa with every incorrect response. So, if you find the questions becoming more challenging as you progress with the test, it only means that you've been answering correctly. Every DET has a different set of questions, here are some common types of questions asked:

  • Identifying the missing letters
  • Finding the actual English words from the fake ones
  • Listening to a sentence and reproducing it
  • Speech and pronunciation
  • Description (writing/speaking)
  • Writing and speaking test 

4. Speaking exercises

DET requires you to speak about any given topic for 2-3 mins to assess your English speaking and pronunciation. The best way to ensure you're prepared for the exercise is to prepare a random topic and record yourself speaking about it for 2-3 mins. By doing so, you'll know the areas you need to improve to make your speech comprehensible and coherent.

5. Learn from everyday occurrences

The best way to learn is through practising speaking regularly and writing your thoughts down to improve vocabulary and diction. Here are some tips to easily train yourself by tweaking your routine to learn new things.

  • See a picture you like on Instagram or a post on Facebook? Speak your thoughts out loud and record yourself or write your views about them. Do a self-assessment to analyse where you need to improve and repeat the exercise with a different picture or topic regularly.
  • Listen to podcasts and Youtube videos and record yourself speaking out loud about the content.
  • Take online mock writing tests and use flashcards to enhance your language skills by learning a new word every day.

Also, keep in mind the following things while taking the test:

  • Be alone in the room with your face and ears uncovered.
  • Ensure to keep your mobiles, notes, textbooks, and all other materials outside the room.
  • Focus on the test with your face to the screen and avoid communication with anyone during the test. 

Duolingo Vs IELTS Vs TOEFL

IELTS and TOEFL are considerably more recognized than Duolingo, which is a more recent assessment. But all these three tests are just as valid for studying abroad in countries like the USA, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and Australia.

Here's a comparative assessment of these three tests in terms of the syllabus, mode of exam, fee, etc., to help you get a clear picture of the proficiency expected and the evaluation metrics. 





Duolingo is an American educational technology company which produces apps for language learning, and provides English language certification

The International English Language Test (IELTS) is one of the most widely accepted and well-recognized English proficiency tests. It is jointly owned and conducted by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English

Introduced in 1964, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the oldest English proficiency test managed by ETS.

Mode of examination


Both computer and paper-based

Both computer and paper-based

Exam Fees (USD)





45 minutes

164 minutes

206 minutes

Results Declaration

48 hours

3-5 days in case of computer-based test, 13 days for paper-based test

8 days


2 (adaptive testing and video interviews)

4 (listening, reading, writing and speaking)

4 (listening, reading, writing and speaking)

Assessment metrics

Score (10-160)

Bands (0-9)

Score (0-120)

Duolingo Accepting Universities in the UK

Many top universities in the UK consider the Duolingo test at par with IELTS and TOEFL. So, if you're planning to pursue higher education in the UK, start preparing for the DET right away because acing this 60-minute test could just make your study abroad dreams come true.

Here are a few of our partner universities in the UK that accept the Duolingo English Test.

  • The University of Leeds
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • The University of Birmingham
  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Westminster
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • The University of Lincoln
  • The Queen Mary University of London
  • Manchester Metropolitan University

Here's a comparative analysis of the partner universities in the UK against the minimum Duolingo scores for pursuing higher education in these universities.


Popular Courses

Duolingo Scores

The University of Leeds

Media and Communication,

Biomedical and Sports Sciences,

Food Science and Nutrition,

History and Humanities


Liverpool John Moores University

Computer Science, Architecture, Engineering, Chemistry, Sport and Exercise sciences


The University of Birmingham

Creative Writing

Chemical Engineering

Materials technology


Tourism, Transport, Travel & Heritage Studies


The University of Bristol

Computer Science





100, with a minimum of 90 in all other components

The University of Westminster

Accounting and Finance

Architecture, Interiors and Urban Design

Art and Design

Film and Television

100, with a minimum of 90 in all other components for an IELTS equivalent of 6 (with a minimum of 5.5 in writing)

Queen's University Belfast

Actuarial Science and Risk Management

Aerospace Engineering

Peace and Justice,

Information Technology,

Food Security

95-100 (with a minimum of 85 in each language subskill)

The University of Lincoln

Public Administration and Social Service Professions



An overall score of 100 with no sub-score below 90

The Queen Mary University of London

Computer & Data Science,


Global Health & Development


Manchester Metropolitan University

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Social and Cultural Courses


Sports Science


Advantages of Choosing Duolingo Test

  • The Duolingo English Test is a shorter test when compared to TOEFL and IELTS, and the results are made available within 48 hours.
  • DET is also less expensive than IELTS and TOEFL, with the cost of the test being only $49.
  • Also, there's no limit to the number of universities you can send your Duolingo Test scores for free. On the other hand, you can send IELTS scores to a maximum of five universities and TOEFL scores only to a maximum of 4 universities. 

Why Choose AECC Global?

AECC Global Indonesia is your one-stop educational assistant for all your academic and career needs. From admission counselling to virtual internships, we help aspiring students achieve their academic and career objectives by helping them choose the right course and paving the way for a successful career abroad.

At AECC Global, it's not just about higher education and career services, we help you develop holistically by giving guidance on Personality Assessment Test (PAT) and language assessment tests like IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo, etc., to ensure you meet your academic objectives.

If you're interested in studying in the UK, please know that you're only Duolingo English Test away from enrolling into the university of your dreams. Get in touch with our expert counsellors at AECC Global for further guidance and support to study in the UK. 


1. Is the Duolingo English Test tough?

Though a shorter test than IELTS or TOEFL, Duolingo is just as competitive as the other tests with a computer adaptive test system. With adequate preparation and language skills, you can achieve a decent score in Duolingo.  

5. What devices and operating systems can I use to take the Duolingo English Test?

Windows or macOS is preferable because the DET will not work on a Chromebook, iPad, tablet, or cellular device. The test also does not work on the Chromium or Linux operating systems.

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