Duolingo English Test Scoring Guide

In this article, we will guide you on how to understand your Duolingo English Test Scores. We’ll discuss in detail how the scoring for the Duolingo English test works. Also, we’ll compare the scores against other English proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.

What is the Duolingo English Proficiency Exam?

Duolingo is a digital English language proficiency test that helps students certify their English level while applying for various purposes such as higher studies.

Like its counterparts, the Duolingo English Test focuses on four areas of a language:

The Duolingo English Test uses computer-adaptive technology, meaning that the test question difficulty adapts to each test taker. For example, if the student chooses the wrong answer, the computer follows up with an easier answer; likewise, if the student answers correctly, the next question will be more difficult. More so, it integrates a video interview and writing sample, which can be quickly sent to an institution along with your proficiency scores. 

The advantage of taking the Duolingo English Test over IELTS and TOEFL is that it can be taken online from anywhere, 24/7

It costs less than a third of the more popular counterparts with an overall amount of USD 49, including sending score reports. More so, it is widely accepted by many universities across the globe. 

These days, many are opting for the Duolingo English Test for Canada as an alternative to IELTS and TOEFL.

DET provides convenience, accessibility, and a more affordable English proficiency exam in this pandemic. Thousands of institutions worldwide are now accepting it as an alternative to IELTS and TOEFL.

Nowadays, Duolingo English Test scores for tests taken between February 1, 2020, and August 1, 2022, are temporarily accepted by various graduate colleges with a minimum score of 105.  The test also takes only an hour when the other tests take over 3 hours in total and are conducted entirely online, making it easily accessible to students from all over the world.

Understanding the Duolingo English Test Score

The Duolingo English Test score report is based on multiple factors such as literacy, comprehension, and conversation. It helps schools and companies evaluate the level of English proficiency of their candidates. 

The English proficiency score is measured and reported on a scale of 0 to 160. Each question has 5-point increments in the test. It is not the average of the subscores. 

The Duolingo Test Score ranges from 10-160, where the lowest available score is 10, which implies that the candidate can only understand basic, straightforward, and more of a conversational level. In contrast, the highest possible score is 160, suggesting that the candidate excels in the language effectively and fluently in different situations. 

To better understand the test score, look closely at the subscores that measure one’s proficiency in specific areas.

Unlike IELTS, where the subscores are calculated in the different sections likes Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, the Duolingo English Test subscores are calculated differently on these components:

  • Conversation speaking and listening
  • Comprehension reading and listening comprehension
  • Production writing composition and communication skills
  • Literacy reading and writing fluency

These subscores can provide more information about the candidate’s language abilities without taking another English test. 

Some colleges and companies tend to use the subscores to choose candidates according to their language skill – that is the most required in the course or job position that the candidate has applied for. And also have greater confidence in their ability to function at their institution effectively.

DET Score Interpretation

Similar to TOEFL and IELTS, the Duolingo English Test has been designed to holistically measure the candidate’s language proficiency in the areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

The scores for DET are interpreted as follows:

ScoreScore Interpretation
10 to  55The candidate can understand basic English words and straightforward information and express themselves in familiar contexts.
60 to  85The candidate can understand the key points of the speech or writing on routine matters like school and work, describe ambitions, express opinions, plans, and experiences, although hesitant.
90 to 115The candidate can communicate well and soak even on unfamiliar topics, understand the key ideas of concrete and abstract writing, and easily interact with proficient speakers. 
120 to 160The candidate can understand various demanding written and spoken language, including some specialized language use situations, comprehend implicit, figurative, pragmatic, and idiomatic language, and use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes.

Duolingo, IELTS, TOEFL, and CEFR Scores Conversion

Since the Duolingo English Test is gaining popularity, many institutions have their candidates convert their results into the existing standards of the more popular counterparts, either IELTS or TOEFL. 

The scores are also aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), an internationally recognized guideline used for describing language proficiency. 

See the table below to understand where the Duolingo English Test Score compares to TOEFL, IELTS, and CEFR.

Duolingo English Test Scoring Comparison

Comparative Insights on Scoring: Duolingo English Test vs IELTS vs TOEFL

To summarize and better understand the similarities and differences of the Duolingo English Test with the other language proficiency exams: IELTS and TOEFL, take a look at this comparison below.

Number of Test Components


Scoring Range and Methods

Score (10-160)Bands (0-9)Score (0-120)

Mode of Examination

Computer-based Only




Paper-based (Available in limited centers)

Cost (USD)


Test Duration

45 minutes

164 minutes

3-5 days

206 minutes

Additional FAQs — Duolingo English Test Scoring

Is the Duolingo Test Score Reliable and Accurate?

Duolingo English Test Scores is reliable and accurate as it is now comparable to the results of TOEFL and IELTS. More so, the scores are aligned to the CEFR, which is an internationally recognized guideline for one’s language ability.

There are also existing researches conducted that may support its reliability. As for the accuracy, all English Language Proficiency tests may present accurate assessments if all the examination factors are met.

Is the Duolingo Test Score Accepted as An Alternative to IELTS and TOEFL?

Since it is accessible, convenient, and comprehensive, it is accepted worldwide. For instance, Illinois Graduate College now temporarily gets Duolingo English Test results for tests taken between February 2020 and August 2021 as an alternative to IELTS and TOEFL for proof of English language proficiency with a minimum score of 105.

However, some Graduate Colleges may still require additional English tests to be taken by the candidate with a 105-124 and participate in a virtual interview before making an admission decision. 

Please note that other factors such as GPA, college application, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and interviews are also considered in securing admissions. The English language proficiency exam is only one of them. 

Is the Duolingo Test More Holistic in Measuring Proficiency Compared to Its Counterparts: IELTS and TOEFL?

Since the technology used for the Duolingo English Test (DET), the candidates are presented with a more precise and efficient evaluation of their language proficiency than a traditional test.