Duolingo English Test: what it is and how to prepare for it

Here’s everything you need to know about the Duolingo English Test, including the scores you should aim for, how to prepare and which universities are accepting it

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Joy Hunter

Student content curator
May 7 2021
Duolingo English Test: what's a good score?

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If you’re applying for an English-speaking university as a non-native speaker, you’ll need to demonstrate your English language proficiency through a test such as the Duolingo English Test.

First introduced in 2016, the Duolingo English Test can be taken online, on demand, with no appointment necessary. It takes one hour to complete, costs $49 (around £36) and results will be sent to you within two days.

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The test has risen in popularity with many in-person test centres temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions throughout 2020.

Who accepts the Duolingo English Test?

Over 3,000 education institutions in more than 50 countries currently accept the Duolingo English Test. Most universities accepting the test are based in the US, including Yale University, Columbia University and New York University, but an increasing number of top universities around the world are also accepting it, including McGill University in Canada and UCL in the UK.

You can use the Duolingo English Test website’s search tool to find out whether your university currently accepts the test.


English language tests: resources

IELTS, TOEFL, PTE or Duolingo? Your guide to English language proficiency tests
IELTS, TOEFL and Duolingo test scores required for the Ivy League and Oxbridge
Changes to the IELTS, TOEFL and Duolingo tests under Covid-19

IELTS Academic test: what it is and how to prepare for it
TOEFL iBT English test: what it is and how to prepare for it


What can you expect from the Duolingo English Test?

As with all language proficiency tests including the IELTS and TOEFL, the Duolingo English test will assess speaking, listening, reading and writing. The first section of the test is 45 minutes long, asking a range of questions to assess reading and listening. Since it is a computer adaptive test, the questions and order for this section will differ for each test taker.

The second section of the test takes 10 minutes and is comprised of an open-ended video prompt and writing sample to test your speaking and writing ability. There’s also a five-minute set-up period at the beginning of the test to ensure you have everything ready.

How should you prepare for the Duolingo English Test?

As with all language proficiency tests, the best way to prepare is by immersing yourself in English as much as possible. Listening to podcasts and watching TV shows or YouTube videos in English is a good way to practise, as is reading articles and books in English, looking up anything you don’t understand and practising speaking with other English-speakers.

The Duolingo English Test website also provides multiple resources to help you prepare for the test, including a comprehensive test guide, videos and a practice test.

When you do decide to take the test, make sure you have a secure internet connection and your space is free from distractions.  


Duolingo English Test walk-through 


What is a good score on the Duolingo English Test?

Most universities will expect a score of about 100 on the Duolingo English Test, with some top universities asking for 120. Different universities and courses will require different minimum scores, so it’s best to check the website of your chosen institution to find out what you should aim for. If it’s not clear on the website, you can contact the university’s international or admissions office directly and ask.

Remember, it’s always best to aim as high as possible because the better the score, the stronger your application will be. You can also use this tool to compare scores with the IELTS Academic and TOEFL iBT.


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