Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern

Are you ready to take the Duolingo English proficiency test? It might be a smart decision if you’re applying to mostly institutions that accept it—or a large number of schools, some of which take it. This article will give you a thorough section-by-section guide about the exam format for the DET.

About Duolingo English Test

The Duolingo English Test is an English proficiency test that many institutions in the United States and Canada use to determine foreign candidates’ eligibility for admission. 

This exam is comparable to other English language proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS. It assesses one’s abilities to speak, listen, write, and read English; however, the significant distinction is that you do not have to go to a test center for DET. Students can take the test from the comfort of their own homes. All they need is a computer and access to the internet.

What is “Adaptive” Technology?

The Adaptive Test Component of the Duolingo English Test is a graded section. This portion assesses the test takers’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. 

The design of an adaptive exam system is to present you with questions that are at the appropriate degree of difficulty.

It’s all about how the test progresses from question to question. Each question you see on an adaptive exam is dependent on how well you did on the previous ones. 

For example, when you successfully answer questions, the test will offer you harder ones. You’ll continue to see more complex questions as long as you keep answering them correctly. 

If you answer a question wrong, the difficulty level of the questions will decrease until you can answer them correctly again, and this process will continue until you have completed the exam.

Highlights of the Adaptive Test

  • Changing Difficulty: Throughout the test, the Duolingo English Test designed the difficulty of the questions to alter constantly. The test adapts to the answers that you will provide.
  • Large Pool of Questions: The Duolingo English Test’s grading system produced the questions automatically. Its algorithm selects from a vast pool reducing the likelihood of repeating a question. According to Duolingo, just one out of every thousand exams will have a question duplicated, guaranteeing that each applicant taking the test has a unique experience.
  • Adaptive Length: The number of questions is neither limited nor determined, even if the test lasts an hour. When the grading machine is satisfied with the candidate’s score, it will end the exam.
  • One Section: The Duolingo English Test is the only English Language Proficiency test that incorporates varying questions in one section. In other words, the test will ask various questions one after the other, regardless of the test type or language skill.

Duolingo English Test Sections

Before the exam begins, each test taker will overview the test and the various criteria.

Quick Set-up, Adaptive Questions, Video Interview, and Writing Samples are the three common elements of the assessments. Here is the outline overview structure of the test:

1. Quick Setup

At the start of the test, each applicant has 5 minutes to complete the introductory tasks:

  • Ensure that their laptop/computer, camera, speakers, and microphone are all working properly.
  • Provide their government-issued identification card.
  • Read through Duolingo’s exam rules and regulations.

2. Adaptive Questions

Candidates will have 45 minutes to attempt the questions displayed on the screen while staying within the time limit.

The Graded Computer Adaptive Test goals are the following:

  • Analyze the candidate’s English skills or competence by asking a series of brief questions.
  • The test will ask the questions in random order due to the adaptive nature of the exam.
  • In addition, the complexity of the questions will vary depending on the candidate’s performance.

3. Video Interview & Writing Sample

The Duolingo English Test prompts candidates to answer one of two questions chosen at random from a pool of hundreds of questions in the last 10 minutes of the Duolingo English Test.

  • In the following 10 minutes, candidates will have 30 seconds to select between the two options.
  • The Duolingo English test will give the video-speaking sample 1-3 minutes, while the writing sample is 3-5 minutes.
  • Before submitting their video sample and writing sample responses to the universities, all candidates will have the opportunity to evaluate them.

Duolingo English Test Duration

The duration of the Duolingo English Tests varies from administration to administration. Thus the test time and amount of items may differ. The following table summarizes the DET exam pattern:

Test SectionSkills TestedDuration
AdaptiveA graded section that evaluates your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills45 mins
Video Interview and Writing SampleAn ungraded section that records open-ended questions10 mins

Duolingo English Test Question Types

These questions will assess your understanding of English vocabulary, grammar, phonetics (how you pronounce English words), prosody (how you stress and intonation English words), reading and writing abilities, and listening skills. 

In contrast to the last two questions, a lengthy written response (50 to 100 words) and a spoken response, the order in which each type of question occurs is random (30-90 seconds).

1. Adaptive Questions 

a. Read and Complete

Candidates are to fill in the missing letters in words and complete a paragraph in which some words will be missing a few letters, which they must complete using the context provided in the passage. The question’s timer will display on the screen at the same time as the question.

  • Time Limit: 3 minutes
  • Subscores: Literacy, Comprehension
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Read and Complete

b. Read and Select

As the name implies, candidates must read the words presented to them and choose the ones which are the actual English words.

  • Time Limit: 1 minute
  • Subscores: Literacy, Comprehension
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Read and Select

c. Listen and Select

Candidates will have options to pick from what they believe are English words. Instead of reading the words, they will listen to the audio to orally identify the correct answer, similar to the “Read and Select” questions.

  • Time Limit: 1.5 minutes
  • Subscores: Conversation, Comprehension
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Listen and Select

d. Listen and Type

Candidates will listen to an audio file that will pronounce a phrase in English. They will next have to spell down the sentence that they were able to understand from the audio.

  • Time limit: 1 minute
  • Subscores: Comprehension, Conversation
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Listen and Type

e. Read Aloud

As the name implies, candidates will read a statement presented on the screen and repeat it into the microphone.

  • Time Limit: 20 seconds
  • Subscores: Comprehension, Conversation
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Read Aloud

  f. Read, then Speak

As described above, candidates will read a written prompt and provide/speak their response for at least 30 seconds. Twenty seconds before the countdown starts, the question’s instructions will appear.

  • Time Limit: 1.5 minutes
  • Subscores: Conversation, Production
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Read Then Speak

g. Listen, then Speak

Candidates will listen to the spoken prompt and respond to the prompt, similar to the question type above. Before being immediately moved to the recording screen, candidates will have 20 seconds to listen and replay the question.

  • Time Limit: 1.5 minutes
  • Subscores: Conversation, Production
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Listen then Speak

h. Read and Write

Candidates will respond to the written prompt in at least 50 words. On the other hand, candidates will not have a choice in terms of the prompt they get.

  • Time Limit: 5 minutes
  • Subscores: Production, Literacy
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Read and Write

i. Speak About the Photo

In this part of the test, candidates will describe the image prompt. Before going to the recording screen, the test will present the questions and pictures shown for 20 seconds. Candidates will also have the option of manually progressing.

  • Time Limit: 1.5 minutes
  • Subscores: Production, Conversation
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Speak About the Photo

j. Write about the photo

The applicants will describe the image presented in one or more sentences in response to this question.

  • Time Limit: 1 minute
  • Subscores: Production, Literacy
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Adaptive Questions Write About the Photo

2. Video Interview and Writing Samples

a. Speaking sample

Candidates must choose one of the two prompts presented on the screen to complete the speaking sample of the ungraded part of the Duolingo English Test. Candidates must provide a detailed presentation for 1 to 3 minutes on one of the subjects. Candidates are encouraged to read, analyze, and choose one of the two options offered since the directions will show for 30 seconds before the recording begins.

  • Time Limit: 3 minutes
  • Subscores: Ungraded
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Video Interview Speaking Sample

b. Writing sample

Candidates will have 3-5 minutes to respond to one of the two written prompts. They will be required to write extensively on one of the two themes. Candidates will have 30 seconds to pick between the two themes on which they will be writing.

  • Time Limit: 5 minutes
  • Subscores: Ungraded
Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern Video Interview Writing Sample

Scoring Guide for the Duolingo English Test

There are two parts to the Duolingo English Test: the adaptive section, the video interview, and the writing sample. It is a 5-point scale that assesses English language proficiency on a scale ranging from 10-160.

In DET, the Adaptive Test is the sole graded portion where the applicant’s responses will be assessed and scored. The adaptive nature will assess various questions types differently and score based on the answers provided. Below is the detailed outline of the Adaptive Section Scoring System:

Adaptive Test: Objective Question Types

These include the following question types:

  • Read and Complete
  • Read and Select
  • Listen and Select
  • Listen and Type
  • Read Aloud

The test grades the responses automatically utilizing a unique system created for these question types.

Also, candidates will not be penalized for providing wrong or partially correct responses. Partially accurate answers may even earn candidates half credit.

Candidates who miss a question, on the other hand, may lose a higher percentage of their score than those who answer a question wrong. Hence, applicants must respond to all of the questions.

Adaptive Test: Subjective Question Types

These include the following question types:

Adaptive Test: Objective Question Types

These include the following question types:

  • Write About the Photo
  • Speak About the Photo
  • Read and Write
  • Read and Speak
  • Listen and Speak

The grading system assesses the open response questions similar to professional human scorers. The automated scoring algorithms comprehend and evaluate a candidate’s English proficiency.

The following are some of the factors that the engine will consider:

  • Accuracy in grammar
  • Complexity in structure 
  • Level of vocabulary used by the test-taker
  • Variety word choices used by the test-taker
  • Ability to answer questions correctly
  • Fluency in answering a question
  • Pace and pronunciation of the candidate

Candidates must be aware that computer algorithms will analyze and score the questions, while human proctors will assess the video recordings they have provided.

Summary of Question Types Asked in the Duolingon English Test

As previously stated, the system will not ask a specific or defined set of questions; instead, the system may ask a particular number of questions per question type to the student thoroughly.

The frequency of questions asked in the Duolingo English Test is listed below.

Adaptive Questions

Question TypeTime LimitSubscoresFrequency
Read and Complete3 minutesLiteracy, Comprehension3 to 7 times
(average 6 times)
Read and Select1 minuteLiteracy, Comprehension3 to 7 times
(average 6 times)
Listen and Select1.5 minutesConversation, Comprehension3 to 7 times
(average 6 times)
Listen and Type1 minuteComprehension, Conversation3 to 7 times
(average 6 times)
Read Aloud20 secondsComprehension, Conversation3 to 7 times
(average 6 times)
Read, then Speak1.5 minutesConversation, Production2
Listen, then Speak1.5 minutesConversation, Production1
Read and Write5 minutesProduction, Literacy1
Speak About the Photo1.5 minutesProduction, Conversation1
Write about the photo1 minuteProduction, Literacy3

Video Interviewing and Writing Sample

Question TypeTime LimitSubscoresFrequency
Speaking sample3 minutesUngraded1
Writing sample5 minutesUngraded1

Additional FAQs on Duolingo English Test Exam Format

Is the Duolingo English Test’s Speaking Portion Performed Separately?

The entire Duolingo English test runs for an hour on the same day.

The speaking component of the Duolingo English Test, referred to as the Interview, is covered in the second half of the test. This portion is equally essential since it evaluates the candidate’s speaking abilities.

What Is A Good Score in the Duolingo English Test?

A score of 120 is considered good. Some institutions accept a score between 105 – 125, but candidates will be requested to take English language placement tests.

To understand more about how the scores work, check out our detailed Duolingo English Test Scoring Guide.

What Type of Questions are Asked in the Interview Section of the Duolingo English Test?

While taking this test component, the candidate’s voice must be clear, and they must follow the guidelines established by the speaking section.

The interview portion of the Duolingo English Test assesses the candidate’s English speaking abilities. You will talk about a topic in this section of the test. The test-taker must speak for at least 30 seconds on a specific topic. 

Are There Any Duolingo English Test Sample Questions?

After checking in, you may take a Practice Test to attempt sample questions in the same manner as the entire test.

Please keep in mind that while the Practice Test is significantly shorter than the Certified Test, the projected score range provided at the conclusion may not correctly reflect your skill.

How Often am I Allowed to Take the Duolingo English Test?

You must wait for your results after completing and submitting a test before taking another.

You have 30 days from the completion date of your first certified exam to get certified results for up to two tests. This restriction is not affected if you finish a test, but it will not certify the results.