How Difficult is the Duolingo English Test?

This article will discuss the test difficulty levels for the Duolingo English Exam.  

We’ll go through some of the most challenging Duolingo exam components, as well as some of the most common Duolingo challenges that people have while taking the test. 

Preparation will be more enjoyable if you follow a good study plan and stick to it. So, keep reading to find out whether the Duolingo English Test is simple or challenging.

What is the Duolingo English Test?

Many academic institutions across the globe accept the Duolingo English Test as a standardized English Proficiency Test. Unlike IELTS or TOEFL, it is entirely administered online using a computer and includes electronic certificates.

Duolingo claims that its English Exam methodology is validated by research. Its test materials have a good connection with other important tests like the TOEFL and IELTS. 

The Duolingo English Test assesses a person’s literacy, comprehension, conversation, and production skills in the English language by evaluating their abilities to read, write, listen, and speak the language.

Overview of Duolingo English Test Difficulty

The Duolingo English Test is sometimes misunderstood as being easier than the IELTS or TOEFL. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. This is due to the adaptive complexity of the Duolingo English Test, which rapidly learns your ability level and provides appropriately challenging content depending on your English abilities.

Because the exam analyzes numerous aspects of the English language, you should have no trouble passing it if you’ve studied enough. 

Correct pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and other topics are covered. While this may seem scary to non-native speakers, anybody contemplating taking the exam has most certainly prepared enough to pass. If you’re concerned, there are free practice choices accessible.

The Duolingo English Test is as “challenging” as other English exams like the TOEFL and IELTS since test results correlate with your English competence.

Many students, however, prefer the Duolingo English Test style since it is more convenient and less stressful.

  • You may take the exam at home, on your computer, rather than going to a testing facility.
  • Without making an appointment, you may take the exam online at any time.
  • You may complete the exam within an hour; other tests can take up to three hours.

What Makes the Duolingo English Test Challenging?

The Duolingo English Test has difficult questions ranging from easy to moderate, with each question becoming more difficult as you reply. Several types of questions are asked in each subject, such as listening, reading, writing, and speaking. 

Some questions may be challenging to answer, while others may be simple. Here are a few elements that might influence the exam’s difficulty level:

Test Syllabus/Format

The Duolingo English Test is a one-hour online exam that assesses your English language skills in all areas, including speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The questions are built designed in such a manner that they assess your critical thinking and adaptation skills.

Duolingo English Test, unlike other English Proficiency Tests, is completed in one sitting. 

The Adaptive Exam and Video Interview are the two elements of the 60-minute test. The initial 45 minutes are followed by additional 10 minutes in the second section. 

The first five minutes are an introduction section that guides applicants through the test’s rapid setup and explains the rules and criteria.

The exam format for the Duolingo English Test differs from those of other English Language examinations taken at testing centers. Because the Duolingo English Test is done at home, innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics are used to verify the test’s dependability.

Duolingo English Test Format

The Duolingo English exam includes seven distinct item kinds, all of which draw on your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. It has a certain pattern that must be followed, which includes:

C-Test of Duolingo Questions

The C-test is used to determine your reading ability. In this section, you must finish the missing words simply lacking part of the last letters and are not entirely missing. You must depend on the context and discourse information provided in the passage to recreate “damaged words.”

Yes/No Vocabulary

This is a “yes/no” vocabulary exam with a twist. This exam requires you to distinguish between a collection of English words and pseudo-words that are made to seem English-like.

 These tests have been used to measure vocabulary knowledge at different CEFR levels and have been proven to predict language competency skills—the text version predicts listening, reading, and writing abilities. In contrast, the audio version predicts listening and speaking abilities specifically. 

These tests often display many stimuli of varying complexity (e.g., 60 words and 40 pseudo-words) all at once. The format is computer-adaptive by displaying numerous sets of stimuli of similar complexity one after the other.


In this test, you will listen to a spoken phrase or brief paragraph and then uses the computer keyboard to transcribe it. Overall, you have one minute to listen and transcribe what they hear. 

You have three chances to play the passage. This exam evaluates your capacity to identify specific words and keep them in memory long enough to appropriately duplicate them; both are essential for comprehending spoken language. 

Dictation activities have also been linked to language learners’ speech output intelligibility.

Read Aloud

The read-aloud questions assess your reading and speaking skills. It asks you to read, comprehend, and pronounce a phrase. Using the computer’s microphone, you will record yourself reading a printed text. 

On the other hand, suprasegmental qualities like intonation, rhythm, and stress directly impact comprehensible speech output. This question type may assess speaking competence because intelligibility is linked to generally spoken comprehension.

Extended Speaking

Extra-long speaking questions assess your English-speaking ability. A visual description assignment and three autonomous speaking activities with written and auditory prompts are included in the CAT component of the exam. Each work type contains items for high, midrange, and low competency.

The tasks’ complexity is determined by your predicted CAT ability. These tasks demand you to talk for lengthy periods and to use various organizational (e.g., grammar, vocabulary, text structure) and pragmatic language knowledge components.

Extended Writing

The extended writing activities assess your English writing skills. Here, you will answer three visual description tasks and one autonomous activity with a written prompt. Like the speaking activities, they are chosen from various difficulties based on your predicted aptitude. 

The image description tasks used stimuli chosen by applied linguists with doctorate degrees. In these, you may demonstrate their whole spectrum of written language talents. 

The independent assignments urge you to explain, retell, or argue, requiring them to use more discursive writing skills in addition to linguistic skills.

Understanding the Adaptive System

The Adaptive Test Component of the Duolingo English Test is a graded section. This component is used to assess your reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. The Adaptive Test component of the DET is granted 45 minutes to applicants. 

Each portion of the exam, including the adaptive section, has its own score assigned by the test provider. Make sure your device’s speaker and microphone are functional before answering questions. 

Before trying the Adaptive Test portion, it must be tested. You must also observe all of the Duolingo English Exam’s rules and regulations, or you risk being excluded from the test.

Duolingo English Test – Adaptive Test Highlights

  • Changing Difficulty – As the name implies, the questions change difficulty based on your responses. Throughout the test, the difficulty is configured to alter dynamically.
  • Huge Pool of Questions – Because the grading system creates questions automatically, it picks from a broad pool of questions, lowering the chances of a question being repeated. According to Duolingo, one in a thousand tests will include an identical question, ensuring that each candidate gets a unique experience.
  • Adaptive Length – The exam is one hour long, but the number of questions isn’t set in stone. When the grading machine is satisfied with the candidate’s score, it will terminate the exam.
  • One Section – Duolingo is presently the only exam with a single section with various graded questions. To put it simply, distinct questions will be asked one after the other, regardless of their nature or area.

Comparison to TOEFL

Compared to other English Language Proficiency Exams, the Duolingo test’s items are often short. On the other hand, the TOEFL test concentrates on situations you would encounter in the real world, especially in academia. 

Furthermore, the TOEFL exam has separate portions for Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, but the Duolingo test is a single exam with all sorts of questions. This implies that you must change rapidly to answer the following question. If one question assesses your reading abilities, the next could determine your listening abilities. 

Furthermore, the Duolingo test is adaptive, which means that the difficulty level of questions is tied to the difficulty level of the preceding question. Still, the difficulty level of the TOEFL exam is unrelated to your previous responses.+

Comparison to IELTS

The Duolingo test may be completed in one sitting, while the IELTS exam usually takes two days. In addition, the format of both tests differs in a number of ways. Although both examinations cover all four aspects of the English language, the Duolingo exam does not include extended paragraphs. 

The IELTS exam assesses a candidate’s ability to use intonation and idioms via essay, short answers, and multiple-choice questions. In contrast, the Duolingo exam assesses a candidate’s ability to utilize intonation and knowledge of idioms.

The IELTS Exam and the DET are both excellent choices for an English proficiency exam. The most crucial thing is to double-check which tests your application (college, visa, etc.) will allow.

You should also consider which exam you believe you have a higher chance of passing with excellent results, considering the structure, duration, and style of each. Don’t forget to think about how simple or difficult you believe it will be to prepare. Last but not least, don’t forget to consider the expense of each alternative.

What Can Make the Duolingo English Test Easier?

These hints will help you prepare and ease your stress. You may study English and practice it to prepare for the test. Reading high-level content like foreign publications and newspapers can help you improve your writing abilities. 

You may also view English movies and talk to native English speakers. You may also find free test preparation tools online. 

Here are some ways that can make the Duolingo English Test a lot easier for you:

Take a Walkthrough of the Duolingo Test

The ideal starting place for orienting yourself is by taking the walkthrough. Before studying, familiarize yourself with the exam by viewing a short video overview on the Duolingo test website.

In this three-minute video, you’ll learn how the test works, what some of the questions look like, and how to register and prepare for the exam.

Knowledge of Both American and British English

Surprisingly, the Duolingo English Test advertises itself as a standardized test that accepts English from all around the world. However, the majority of the paragraphs in this test are written in British English

In addition, there will very definitely be one British speaker on the audio channel during the listening part. To be safe, applicants should prepare themselves according to British English norms and become fluent in the accent.

Practice Materials from IETLS and TOEFL

Other English Language Proficiency examinations, such as the IELTS or TOEFL iBT, have been around for a long time. 

As a result, many English teachers have created a wealth of resources for these exams on the internet that may help you improve your English, even if they don’t necessarily prepare you for certain particular parts of the Duolingo English Test, such as the varied structure of their activities.

Taking the Practice Test

Go to the Duolingo website and take the sample test to get a feel for the real exam. The sample test is an excellent beginning point, despite being shorter (eight minutes) and the score range is less trustworthy and unofficial. 

Taking the fake test will teach you about the actual exam and give you a taste of what to anticipate on the real one.

The best part about the practice exam is that it is absolutely free, and you may take advantage of it as much as you want. You’ll also be given a predicted score range once you’ve passed the sample test so you can gauge your preparation.

Understand the Regulations Completely

Because the test is online, Duolingo has devised a set of rules for you to observe. The proctors record and analyze the whole test. Proctors also make sure there is no background noise or anybody in your room throughout the test. 

Applicants may also not wear headphones when speaking with others. You may not use a phone or any other device during the exam. Non-compliance will necessitate retaking the test.

How is the Duolingo English Test scored?

The Duolingo English test is essentially a computer-scored exam. The company also employs proctors to guarantee that applicants adhere to the regulations.

These proctors watch you take the exam on video. Every detail of your encounter is recorded, even your keystrokes! Two impartial reviewers will keep an eye on the computer screen, ignoring other people, background noise, or other red signs.

After the exam, you’ll be given a score ranging from 10 to 160. This is a total score, not a section-by-section score. A score of 120 or more may be required for top education programs throughout the globe. Still, criteria vary, so verify with your preferred institution.

You can also discover how your Duolingo English Test score connects to TOEFL and IELTS results once you’ve completed it! So, you know how you’d perform on other well-known examinations.

This English language competency test was created and is currently administered by Duolingo Test Center, which is also in charge of scoring the tests and alerting you of their results.

Final Thoughts

Duolingo English Test was created to bridge the gap that previous comparable approaches had created and were unable to bridge. It capitalizes on the flaws of other English exams, incentivizing you to take it rather than others. 

Other English tests do not measure proficiency in the same way. This language test is available at any time, from any location, and is entirely free to take online. 

Additionally, the DET exam is as difficult as any English Language Proficiency exam. Still, it lies in your language ability to read, speak, write, and listen. But the best part is that the results are available in as little as two days. You may easily share results with other universities after acquiring them.

Additional FAQs — Duolingo English Test Difficulty

What is the Most Effective Strategy to Study for the Exam?

Suppose you have a decent command of the English language. In that case, you should be able to pass the Duolingo English Test with only two weeks of study. You may use the Duolingo English Test practice tests and sample questions accessible online during this time.

In addition, Duolingo has published a thorough guide to aid students in their preparation for the Duolingo English Test. You may download the PDF and review the tips and tactics to help you prepare for the exam. You may also take an online practice exam for free.

Lastly, a practice test is adequate to prepare for the Duolingo English exam if you have a decent grasp of the English language. It will support you in becoming more acquainted with the sorts of questions that will be asked on the Duolingo English Test. Free practice exams are available online. After the exam, online practice tests offer you a projected test score, which you may use to assess your degree of preparation.

How Often Can I Retake the Test?

In a nutshell, the answer is yes. If you register for the Duolingo English Test, you may take it twice in 30 days. You may also retake the test as many times as you like.

The test results are valid for two years, and you may have them transmitted to as many universities as you choose at no extra charge.

What are the Requirements for the Duolingo English Test?

For this exam, you will need the following items:
Identification card/passport
a dependable internet connection
near the top of your PC, a front-facing camera
an audio recorder
interlocutors (headphones and earbuds are not allowed)

The following are the justifications behind the requirements. The prerequisite for a strong internet connection is obvious but essential.
The front-facing camera is essential because you will be observed throughout the exam.

You should be aware that this makes the test very safe. One of the reasons the Duolingo exam is so well-regarded and recognized by so many colleges is because of its security.

Where Can I Find Sample Questions and Answers?

Duolingo English Test sample questions are available online for free. DET sample practice questions reflect the same test design as the actual exam. As a result, anybody studying for the Duolingo English Exam should practice the sample questions before taking the real test.

You must do so by following the steps outlined below:
Go to your Duolingo English Test account and sign in.
Sign in with your Google account by providing your registered email address, age, and password.
You may practice mock sample questions after you’ve successfully joined your Duolingo English Test account.

A full-length Duolingo English Exam practice exam may not be available for free. Even though the exam is shorter, it is still helpful to know the kind of questions asked on the original examination.