Duolingo Test during COVID-19

An alternative to IELTS

By Rachel Watson

Duolingo Test during COVID-19: An alternative to IELTS

Candidates who need to prove their English language proficiency can take the Duolingo English Test online from anywhere anytime. Like conventional study abroad exams TOEFL, IELTS and PTE, it also tests all the four-language skills Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Due to COVID-19, IELTS and TOEFL testing is temporarily suspended and consequently many universities are now accepting Duolingo English Test.

What Is the Duolingo English Test?

The Duolingo English Test is an online exam that candidates can take on their personal computers. Candidates who need to prove their English language proficiency can take the Duolingo English Test online at any time. Like conventional English language testing exams – TOEFL, IELTS and PTE, Duolingo test also examines all the four language skills i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking.

The test is adaptive which means the difficulty level of the test increases with every correct answer. Difficulty level of question is reduced after every wrong answer.

Candidates can take the test from their home and an appointment is not required. It also has a section where candidates have to record a video interview of 10 minutes while answering open-ended questions.


  • The test can be completed in 1 hour and results are out within 2 days
  • Accepted by more than 1000 institutions worldwide (see the list here)
  • The exam fees is quite low at $49
  • Candidates can send their score reports to as many universities as they want for free

Why Duolingo English Test?

In this time of COVID-19 crisis when students are not able to give the English Language Proficiency exams like IELTS, PTE and TOEFL at the test center, Duolingo offers them an opportunity to prove their English language proficiency from their homes, and pursue their dream of studying abroad.

How can I take the Duolingo test?

You can take the test online anywhere, anytime.

Test duration

The total test duration is 1 hour. 45 minutes for the adaptive test where all your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills are tested. Also, there is a video interview of 10 minutes that records your answers to open-ended questions.

Duolingo English Test Fee

You can take the test for $49.

Duolingo English Test Result

You can get the results within 48 hours or 2 days of completing the Duolingo test and share it with anyone and as many schools immediately.

How the Duolingo test is scored?

The Duolingo English Test is a computer-based test and is designed to assess language ability by assessing reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The proficiency of the test taker is measured as a holistic score on a scale of 10-160. This is a complete score and not section-wise. Usually, top universities ask for a score of more than 120.

Who accepts the Duolingo English Test?

According to the Duolingo, thousands of institutions worldwide accept it. Hundreds of educational institutions in the US even some of the top universities like Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Duke University, and Yale University accept the Duolingo English Test scores. See the list here.

How to prepare for the Duolingo English Test?

To prepare for the Duolingo exam, you should work on improving all the aspects of the English language i.e., reading, listening, writing and speaking. For example, you may listen to English podcasts and read articles from top magazines and newspapers. You may also practice speaking English by having a conversation with a native English speaker.

More importantly, you must take a sample test and get familiar with the types of questions that are asked in the real test. You can take a free sample test on Duolingo’s website and attempt is as many times as you want.

Test requirements

  • Passport, driver’s license or government ID
  • A computer
  • A well-lit room
  • A reliable internet connection

Hardware/Software requirements

  • A supported browser (Chrome or Opera)
  • A microphone
  • A front-facing camera
  • Speakers

Sample Questions

Here are some screenshots of the questions asked in Duolingo Test, taken from a Sample Test. Go though them to get an idea of what types of questions are asked in Duolingo test.
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Difference between Duolingo English Test and TOEFL Exam

The questions of the Duolingo test are brief in comparison to other English Language Proficiency Exams and do not focus on scenarios you are going to witness in the real world. Further questions in the TOEFL exam are divided into different sections – Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, whereas, questions are not divided into different sections in Duolingo Test. If one question tests your Reading skills then the other one may test your Listening skills. This means that you have to adapt quickly to solve the next question. Also, the Duolingo test is adaptive which means the difficulty level of questions is related to the previous question, however, the difficulty level of questions in TOEFL exam have nothing to do with your previous answers.

Difference between Duolingo English Test and IELTS Exam

There are various differences in the format of both the exams. Although both the exams test all the four skills of the English language, you will not see long passages in the Duolingo exam. IELTS exam tests the candidate through essay questions, short answer, and multiple-choice questions while the Duolingo test the candidate’s ability on the use of intonation and knowledge of idioms.

What happens after the test?

Once you complete the test, it is sent to the proctors and the candidate receives an email stating when he will get the scores (48 hours). When the scores are ready, the candidate is notified through an email. Candidates can take two certified tests within a 30-day period. A certified test is a usual test that you give and get scores. If, in case you face any technical issue during the exam, it will not be counted against the two-time limit. Duolingo scores are valid for two years. Once you receive your scores you can send it to the educational institutions straight from the results page and there is no limit on sending the score reports.

Sample Test

If you want to familiarize yourself with the real test, you can visit the Duolingo site and take the sample test. But the sample test is shorter in duration (eight minutes) and the score range is less accurate and unofficial. By taking the sample test, you will experience the nature of the actual exam. The best part about the sample test is that it is free and you can take it as many times you want. Once you complete the sample test, it shares an estimated score range, so you can judge your preparedness.

Know the rules clearly

As the test can be taken online, Duolingo follows a rigorous process and has framed various sets of rules for candidates. The complete test is recorded and reviewed by the proctors. Proctors make sure that there is no background noise, and nobody is present in your room at the time of the test. Apart from this, candidates cannot wear earphones or interact with anyone. Candidates are not allowed to use a phone or any other device while giving the exam. Make sure you follow all these rules otherwise you have to take the test again.

Score Interpretation

The Duolingo English Test has been designed to assess real-world language ability, by measuring candidates’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The aspirant’s proficiency is reported as a holistic score on a scale from 10 – 160.



10 – 55

  • Can understand basic English words and phrases
  • Can understand straightforward information and express themselves in familiar contexts

60 – 85

  • Can understand the key points of the speech or writing on routine matters like school and work
  • Can describe ambitions, opinions, plan, and experiences, although with some hesitation

90 – 115

  • Can communicate well and soak even on unfamiliar topics
  • Can understand the key ideas of both concrete and abstract writing
  • Can interact with proficient speakers easily

120 – 160

  • Can understand a variety of demanding written and spoken language including some specialized language use situations
  • Can understand implicit, figurative, pragmatic, and idiomatic language
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes

Duolingo to IELTS Score Converter

Duolingo Score

Equivalent IELTS Score

































Duolingo Preparation Courses

3 thoughts on “Duolingo Test during COVID-19: An alternative to IELTS”

  1. I really like the vocabulary course mentioned above and it helped me to achieve high score in Duolingo test. @admin I want to enrol in listening course. Can I pay with credit card?

    1. Hi Srishti, We are happy that you loved the vocabulary course. To enrol in the listening course, you can pay $24 or INR 1700 (+GST) by credit card, debit card, net banking, PayTM wallet and PayPal. If you face any issues, feel free to write back to us.

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