My Duolingo English Test Experience

duolingo english test

Hey everyone, it’s Xiu Zhang. If you do not remember my previous posts, I failed IELTS. English gives me hard times, especially in grammar and pronunciation. However, I didn’t give up and continued improving my language skills. I practiced a little bit, watched many movies in English to better understand native speakers, and chatted with my friends on WeChat a lot to improve pronunciation. After that, I decided to take the Duolingo English test out of curiosity (why not? It is free!) Despite that, I took this test seriously, and now I want to share my experience and thoughts about it with you.

What Is Duolingo English Test?

Most of you have heard about a free Duolingo English learning app, but, as far as I know, not everybody is aware of its English test

Duolingo English test is a proficiency test offered by a free language learning platform Duolingo. The test consists of two parts: a 30-minute adaptive test and a 10-minute video and written interview. 

The first part of the test assesses your vocabulary and grammar as well as your ability to read and listen. The second part evaluates your speaking and writing skills. At the end of the test, you will receive a rough score, and in about two days, you will get your test result. Your score will range between 10 and 160.

Official DET website
Accepted countries UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada
Mode of test Online/internet-based
Duration  45 minutes
Test fee USD 59
Result  Within 28-48 hours
Validity  2 years

Why Should You Take This Test? 

  1. It is free. Unlike many other proficiency tests, such as IELTS and the TOEFL, the sample test is completely free. Even if you have limited financial resources, the test is an affordable option for you.
  2. Convenience. You do not need to travel anywhere to take the Duolingo English test. All you need is a stable internet connection and a device, preferably, your laptop or PC.
  3. Provides feedback. The test evaluates your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, as well as your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. After taking this test, you will be able to identify areas you should focus on to improve your English. It will help you improve your performance or get ready for the exam.
  4. It is accepted by many universities and colleges. The Duolingo English test is accepted by a growing number of universities and colleges worldwide, including Yale University, Duke University, and Columbia University in the United States, and the University of Toronto and McGill University in Canada. I did not intend to apply to any of these universities, but it can be a great option for you if you are looking for an opportunity to study abroad. 

Duolingo English tests are accepted for international students in the USA. More than 1000 universities accept DET. The average score required for admission is between 100-150. 

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What to Expect from Duolingo English Test

Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you to take the Duolingo English test. Before you do that, I’d like to share my personal experience on the test and tell you what to expect from it. In this part of the article, I’ll tell you about the test’s tasks and share my thoughts on them, explaining which of them were easy or difficult for me and why. I believe that my experience can help you prepare for the test and get a higher test score.

Adaptive Test

This part of the test assesses your grammar and vocabulary knowledge and reading and listening skills. The tasks were easy to understand so you won’t have to waste your time trying to understand what to do. However, not all the questions in the test were equally easy for me to do. I also want you to keep in mind that each task has a time limit, so you need to be as concentrated as possible. This part of the test consists of the following question types:

Listening task

duolingo test listening

In this task, you will listen and write what you hear. I found this task quite easy, and I didn’t even have to use all the replays in most cases. I wish my professors would speak so clearly!

Vocabulary task

duoligo test vocabulary task

This task requires you to choose the words that exist in English. To be honest, I struggled with this one because many words looked familiar, and I was not sure if they existed.  

  • Gap-fill task

duolingo test gap fill task

This task aims to assess your grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. You will have to type the missing letters and complete the words so that they match the context. This task wasn’t too hard for me, but sometimes I was unsure if I was thinking of the correct word.

  • The photo description task

duolingo test photo description task

As you can guess, in this open-ended question, you need to write about the photo. You should try to describe as many details as possible. The photo I needed to write about seemed weird to me, so I only managed to give a short description.

  • Pronunciation task

duolingo test pronunciation task

In this task, you have to read the sentence out loud and record your voice. You should speak slowly and as clearly as possible. This task might seem easy, but I felt nervous about it. I had to put much effort into speaking clearly without a noticeable Chinese accent.

  • Interactive reading. During this part of the test, you must read the text passage carefully and answer the questions based on it within 7 minutes. These questions are of different types, so you should be concentrated and be sure you understand the task correctly. Here are some of these questions

Gap-fill task

duolingo test interactive reading

You will need to read the passage and select the word that fits the context out of 5 possible variants.

Select the sentence

duolingo test select the sentence

In this task, you can see the same text passage as in the previous question and the new paragraph. You will have to choose a sentence that would link these two paragraphs.

Find the answer

duolingo test find the answer

You should read the question and find the answer in a passage. Then, select the answer.

Summarize the passage

duolingo test summarize the passage

In this task, you should choose one sentence that expresses the main idea of the passage. I recommend you read the passage again before you answer if you have enough time.

The reading task was not too difficult for me, mainly because I am studying Business Administration, and the passage was related to my education. Be attentive, and you won’t have any difficulties with the reading task either!

  • Listening Task

duolingo test listening task

Although it’s a reading task, it will require reading too. You will participate in an imaginary conversation. I had to “speak with a “college friend,” but your scenario can be different, so read it carefully before you start. Then, you’ll need to listen to the responses and choose the appropriate phrases to continue the dialogue. Try to memorize the correct sentences and how the other “person” responds because, in the end, there is one more task in which you must remember your dialogue. You must memorize as much as possible and write it down. I thought I was going well in this task because I had similar conversations. But only before this point because I quickly forgot everything. Well, I definitely should be more attentive next time. 

Video and Written Interviews

This part consists of open-ended questions. Before you start, make sure that you are focused on the screen. You can only watch on your keyboard when you type. Otherwise, you can only look at your screen because if you don’t do that during the certified test, it will invalidate your score! Now, let’s go back to the task description. This part consists of the following tasks:

  • Video Interview

duolingo test video interview

You need to read the questions and then speak about the required topic. Your voice will be recorded, so make sure there are no background noises. 

To be honest, this task made me sweat. 

I spoke slowly and thought about every word I said. If you’re more confident about your pronunciation than I am, feel free and comfortable to speak faster.

  • Written Interview

duolingo test written interview

In this task, you will read then write. You should write as much as possible, but you still need to remember about grammar. That’s why this task is also quite challenging to me, even though the questions are easy. I couldn’t write as quickly as possible because I worried about correctness. Remember, the quality of your response depends on your knowledge, not only on the size of your text. 

Overall Tips on How to Prepare for the Duolingo English Test 

Now that you know what to expect from the Duolingo English Test, you are almost ready to take it! However, you should know how to prepare for the test and how to maximize your test score. Even though the sample test is free, you should take it seriously to get the correct result. I prepared the following tips to help you get ready for the test:

  • Practice your skills. As you know by now, the Duolingo English test assesses a wide range of your language skills and knowledge. Make sure that you refreshed your memory. 
  • Get rest and stay calm. Don’t forget that good night’s sleep. Proper sleep can improve your attention and ability to memorize information and help you take control of your emotions.
  • Ensure that your room is well-lit and quiet. Taking tests in a quiet location will help you avoid distractions. Additionally, a well-lit room will prevent your eyes from getting tired, which will help you concentrate.
  • Use a comfortable chair and desk. When you don’t feel comfortable during the test, it distracts you. A comfortable chair and desk can help prevent you from feeling pain in your neck and eyes so that you can be concentrated on the test.

I hope my experience will help you to perform better on your test. However, whether to take a free sample test or not is up to you. I took it, and I know that I got one step closer to nailing IELTS.

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Xiu Zhang
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Xiu is a Chinese native studying in the USA. A professional film watcher and Mahjong player, Xiu plans to develop his entrepreneurial mindset and set up a company of his own.