Duolingo English Test Writing Guide

This article will help you with everything you need to prepare for the writing section of the Duolingo English Test. You will also find samples questions and answers for the DET.

What is the Duolingo English Test?

First offered in 2016, the Duolingo English Test 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: reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking.  Over 3,000 educational institutions presently accept the Duolingo English Test in over 50 countries. 

To understand more about the Exam Format for the DET, check out our detailed Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern.

General Tips For Taking the DET

  • Take a walkthrough of the Duolingo Test.
  • Find English-speaking online groups and forums and spend some time penning brief comments and replies every day.
  • Choose one topic every day that interests you — laughing, loneliness, shopping, reading, and the likes – and write about it for 15 minutes.
  • Become more familiar with Computer Adaptive Test.
  • Get to know the Duolingo English Test question types.

Additional Reading — Best Duolingo English Test Tips and Tricks

What are the Different Writing Question Types on the DET?

The writing question types can be found both under the Adaptive and Writing Sample sections of the DET. 

Additional Reading — Duolingo English Test Question Types

1. Writing About the Photo (Adaptive Questions) 

You will find this question type under the Adaptive Questions. Here, you will be asked to describe the image presented in one or more sentences in response to this question.

DET Sample Question Writing About the Photo

2. Read and Write (Adaptive Questions) 

This is another question type under Adaptive Questions.

Here, you will be given a written prompt to respond in at least 50 words. You will not have a choice in terms of the prompt they get.

  • Write about a topic: to make an argument.
  • Write about a topic: to describe, discuss, or explain.
  • Write about a topic: to recount past experiences.
DET Sample Question Read and Write

3. Writing Sample

Writing Sample is the last section of the Duolingo English Test. In the final part of the test, candidates will have 3-5 minutes to respond to 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.

The system does not grade this section of the test. However, the Duolingo English Test will share your written response and video recording to the institution to receive your score. 

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

DET Sample Question Writing Sample 1

Common Question Types for Writing Sample

We have collated some topics that may help you in the Duolingo English test, according to the Duolingo essay list. Practice on these questions and time yourself based on any of the writing question types.

1. Argumentative

  • These days new technology is increasingly being used to teach students. What are the advantages of this new approach? 
  • Many significant buildings are being destroyed or replaced. What are the reasons for this?
  • Some people argue that teenagers have lost moral values. What is your opinion?
  • Public transport helps save money and curbs pollution over the private vehicle. What do you prefer and why?
  • Some people claim that the government should spend money on Space research, while others say that the government should build hospitals. Which argument do you support?
  • Having a good university degree is essential in finding a job. Do you agree?
  • Some people say that with the development of the Internet, Radio has no future. Do you agree?

2. Descriptive

  • Describe a time when you were delighted. What happened?
  • Describe the house in which you live?
  • Describe the neighborhood where you live?
  • Describe a time when someone cheated on you.
  • Describe your daily exercise routine.
  • Describe a time when you traveled somewhere.
  • How do you travel to your work/study? Describe your vehicle.
  • Describe a skill that you want to learn.
  • Describe your favorite actor. Why is he your favorite?

3. Recount

  • Write about your dream job. Why do you want this job?
  • Write down about your best friend. How long have you known him?
  • What is your favorite dish? How is it prepared?
  • Write about your favorite book.

Production Scoring Criteria

For questions such as Write About the Photo and Read and Write are open-ended questions graded. Like professional human raters, the grading engine uses an algorithmic system to comprehend and evaluate a candidate’s English Proficiency. 

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

  • Grammatical accuracy and complexity.
  • Sophistication with your word choices.
  • Ability to answer fluently and elaborately.

Check out this guide from Duolingo about Subscores: Improving how we report Duolingo English Test results

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

8 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills for the DET

Learning a range of writing techniques isn’t as challenging as you would imagine. We’ve put up a checklist to help you make significant changes to the quality of your writing in a short amount of time.

  • Read. Read. Read: Reading high-level content, such as foreign publications and newspapers, and consistently practicing writing will help you improve your talents.
  • Become familiar with the format of an essay: The Duolingo English Test requires you to write an essay. You should be well-versed in the response format. Consider the options and structure you’re writing. Make your response in paragraphs. This will not only show the examiner how effectively you order your ideas, but it will also make your essays more interesting. Don’t forget to pay attention to the Duolingo English Test writing format, including the introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Practice on the sample topics: You must practice thoroughly to boost your confidence during the exam. Make the most of these tests by answering a variety of practice questions. Make an effort to finish your work within the allotted time and word count. Practice. Practice. Practice.
  • Create grammatically accurate statements: Most test-takers frequently fail to construct grammatically correct phrases in the exam. You should create grammatically correct sentences in the Duolingo English Test since it makes a significant difference in writing and speaking. After viewing your grammatically perfect phrases, the system will consider you who knows enough about grammar and connective terms. Make sure you don’t mix up single and plural nouns. If the question needs to be plural, you must also respond in the plural form.
  • Choose your words carefully: In writing, avoid repetition of terms and utilize correct language. Some candidates want to use high-level vocabulary and compose lengthy phrases to demonstrate their command of the English language. You may accomplish this if you are fluent in English and have a broad understanding of the language.
  • Make sure you’re not missing any words: Most test takers must complete the Read, then Write task in 5 minutes with 50 or more words, while Write about a Photo is 1 minute to complete using 50 words. Hence, you should thoroughly practice the Duolingo English sample tests to understand the word limits.
  • When writing, maintain a formal tone: Instead of writing casually, use a formal manner. Duolingo English Test also advises that you should write in a standard style to get a better score. 
  • Manage your time wisely: Managing your time is critical in the Duolingo English writing tests. You should practice thoroughly to see how long it takes you to complete the tasks. You will improve and be better at managing your time. As a result, the time restriction will put you under less stress throughout the exam.

Tips and Examples for Each Writing Question Type

Some students wonder if the Duolingo English test is difficult. The answer is that if you plan carefully, it will be simple. The DET assesses your ability to communicate in English in the real world. You must study extensively to achieve the highest possible score and gain admission to the university. 

The steps below may assist you in preparing for the exam:

1. Describe the Photo

This question type (Write about the photo) will appear three times on the test. Thus, it is important that you prepare for it.

Understanding this Question Type (Describe the Photo)

  • You will have this question three times. 
  • You have 60 seconds to write your answer.
  • You must write at least one sentence (but more is better).
  • It contributes to your production and literacy subscores.

How To Write the Answer To This Task?

i) Add Introductory Statements

Memorize these statements and practice typing them out quickly. Use viable Sentence starters such as:

  • “This is a picture of…”
  • “This picture shows…”
  • “This image depicts…”
  • “In this photograph, there is/are…”
DET Writing Answer Describe the Photo

Sample Answers: 

  • “This picture shows a devastating missile attack – the target was totally obliterated.”
  • “In this photograph, it is shattered into pieces by a powerful missile strike.”
ii) Be Descriptive

Here’s how to be more descriptive about the image.

  • Write about the actions of the person or main subject in the picture. Use precise verbs and adverbs.
  • Describe the subject or object using adjectives. Avoid the most common ones. 
  • Write about the location of the subject in the picture. Make use of prepositional phrases.
DET Writng Answer Prepositions

Sample Answer:

“The powerful collision shattered the target into pieces.”
iii) Make A Guess Or Prediction

How can you do this? You can have an intelligent guess by referring to the clues surrounding the subject. You may use modal verbs such as might, could, must, may, etc. Use Sentence Starters, such as:

  • “It seems like…”
  • “It looks like…”
  • “I guess that…”
  • “I think…”
iv) Leave Time To Check For Errors

Always allot a time for you to go over what you have written. Don’t forget to scan and proofread your work.

A Model Answer for this Question Type:

DET Writing Answer Describe the Photo Missile

“This image shows a devastating missile strike – the target was totally obliterated. The powerful collision completely shattered the aircraft into pieces, and it seemed no one survived the fatal incident above the sky. “

2. Write About A Topic (Argument)

This question type (Write about a topic) will appear on the test once.

Understanding this Question Type (Write About a Topic)

  • You must write your answer in five minutes.
  • Minimum 50 words (or more is better).
  • It contributes to your production and literacy scores

This is an example of making an argument. (See image below)

DET Sample Question Write About A Topic
i) Answer The Questions Fully

For your writing question, you’ll have to choose between three different writing styles: describe, recount, or make an argument.

It is important that you can recognize the type of writing that you have to do. 

ii) Organize Your Answer Using Pee Method

PEE stands for Point, Evidence, and Evaluation.

  • Point (Topic): Discuss what your point exactly is. Make your point or argument as clear and concise as possible, and keep in mind that it must be related to the job or issue. It is the first sentence of a paragraph. It shows the reader what the paragraph is about. You will also have to state your opinion or position.
  • Evidence (Supporting Sentence): This is where you show how you can back up your claim by citing a passage from the text. You can’t just make a point without backing it up, and in an essay, this piece of proof is almost always a quotation.
  • Evaluation/Explanation (Concluding Sentence): This is the conclusion of the argument. You describe how your evidence backs up your claim. Avoid iterations once more.
iii) Additional Tips and Tricks in Making an Argument

Here are some pointers to remember in making an argument:

  • The argument uses a timeless present tense. When making forecasts, the tense may shift to the future.
  • For impact, the writer purposefully repeats words, ideas, and concepts.
  • The use of verbs is common when expressing opinions.
  • Commonly uses strong, effective adjectives 
  • It uses thought-provoking questions or rhetorical questions
  • A closing statement typically includes techniques and examples that show and demonstrate the results of an argument.

Sample Question: (Argumentative)

Let’s take a look at these sample questions:

DET Writing Sample Question Argumentative

Decide on the point of view and come up with reasons to support it.

First and foremost, you must pick one of the two options presented to you. You must select one of the following viewpoints for the job above:

  1. Center for business research
  2. Center for research in agriculture (farming)

Then you must come up with reasons in support of your selected viewpoint. Let’s look at some supporting evidence for each of the offered viewpoints:

Center for business research

  • improves your understanding of changing community demands.
  • assist in the creation and refining of programs.
  • uses measure program outcomes and keep track of resources.
  • encourage learning inside the organization.

Center for research in agriculture (farming)

  • discover procedures that will increase livestock and crop yields.
  • improve farmland productivity.
  • reduce loss due to disease and insects.
  • increase overall food quality.

How To Write the Answer To This Task (Write About a Topic)?

For the sample response, we’ll use the second opinion.

Introduction 

Respond to the following statement (sentence 1) with your viewpoint (sentence 2):

“Most discoveries are the result of a well-planned study that might take years to complete. What is the impact of research on you and agriculture? Our world has changed dramatically as a result of research. Hence, I strongly recommend having a center for agriculture research (farming).”

Body Paragraphs

In a separate paragraph, describe each argument that you used to support your position. There should be a body in your article. Make sure to use linking words, vocabulary.

“Researchers are looking for methods to help farmers make more money while still protecting the environment. Therefore, communities will benefit from having a research center for the following reasons: to produce more efficient equipment and enhance overall food quality by discovering techniques that will boost livestock and crop yields, improve farmland productivity, and minimize disease and insect loss.”

Conclusion

In the last paragraph, recap everything you’ve written and reiterate your point of view:

“Agriculture, in general, has a bright future. Though there are certain disadvantages associated with creating an agriculture research center, I feel the rewards exceed the risks. We can expect that our standard of living will improve with continued research in agriculture and continued testing.”

An Example of A Model Answer: 

Most discoveries are the result of a well-planned study that might take years to complete. Our world has changed dramatically as a result of research. What is the impact of research on you and agriculture? I strongly recommend having a center for agriculture research (farming). Researchers are looking for methods to help farmers make more money while still protecting the environment. Therefore, communities will benefit from having a research center for the following reasons: to produce more efficient equipment and enhance overall food quality by discovering techniques that will boost livestock and crop yields, improve farmland productivity, and minimize disease and insect loss. Agriculture, in general, has a bright future. Though there are certain disadvantages associated with creating an agriculture research center, I feel the rewards exceed the risks. We can expect that our standard of living will improve with continued research in agriculture and continued testing.”

3. Write About A Topic (Recount)

This question type can be found under the Writing Sample section of the DET.

  • This question will appear on the test once.
  • You must write your answers in five minutes.
  • Minimum 50 words (or more is better).
  • It contributes to your production and literacy scores.

Understanding This Question Type

DET Writing Sample Question Recount
i) Answer the questions fully

For your writing question, you’ll have to choose between three different writing styles: describe, recount, or make an argument.

It is important that you can recognize the type of writing that you have to do. This is an example of making an argument. 

ii) How can you say that this is a recount?

The goal of a recount is to remind of an event or experience for their knowledge or delight. It varies from a narrative in that the events are presented in chronological sequence rather than altered for maximum effect or drama.

iii) Organize your answer 
  • Topic Sentence: It provides readers with the necessary background information to comprehend the content, such as who was involved, where it occurred, and when it occurred.
  • Supporting Ideas: A description of a sequence of events that occurred in the past. 
  • Concluding Sentence: A personal remark regarding the incident or the final outcome.
iv) Additional Tips and Tricks for Writing a Recount

Here are some pointers to remember in writing a recount:

  • written in the past tense.
  • frequently uses words that relate to occurrences in time.
  • because recollections explain events, verbs (action words) and adverbs are commonly used (which describe or add more detail to verbs)
  • uses personal pronouns are used (I, we).
  • it is possible to utilize the passive voice.
    DET Writing Sample Question Recount Details

How To Write Your Answer To This Task?

For the sample response, we’ll use quick planning.

i) Sample Planning
  • Write about my experience
  • Country: Philippines
  • Things I learned: They were not afraid to portray social issues and demonstrate their resilience.
  • Examples to back up ideas
  • Topic sentence, supporting sentences, conclusion
ii) Topic Sentence 

This introduces the reader to the topic of the recount in this initial section, which includes any essential background information and context.

“I am particularly fond of Filipino movies, and I have learned so many aspects of their culture from watching its films. “

iii) Supporting Ideas

The first section gives you background information, while the second part focuses on recounting the series of events.

“The Third Golden Age of Philippine cinema began in the 2000s, owing to films that weren't hesitant to the reality of its society – social realism. For example, the movie "Pisay" is about kids at a prominent high school going through puberty, and "Tribu," a gritty narrative about the people living in slums of Tondo, is presented through hip-hop and rap. Another, "My Fake American Accent" and "Endo" are must-see films for working-class Filipinos because they reveal unpleasant facts regarding Philippine labor concerns such as job security.”
iv) Conclusion

This part also allows you to consider the more significant historical importance of the events you have recounted earlier in the recall.

"Watching these movies gives you an idea that a good film may be used to represent life's truths and realities. These are some of the most typical issues that individuals who live in cities face, yet they continue to live up to their motto: Filipino Resilience."

An Example of A Model Answer: 

“I am particularly fond of Filipino movies, and I have learned so many aspects of their culture from watching its films. The Third Golden Age of Philippine cinema began in the 2000s, owing to films that weren't hesitant to the reality of its society – social realism. For example, the movie "Pisay" is about kids at a prominent high school going through puberty, and "Tribu," a gritty narrative about the people living in slums of Tondo, is presented through hip-hop and rap. Another, "My Fake American Accent" and "Endo" are must-see films for working-class Filipinos because they reveal unpleasant facts regarding Philippine labor concerns such as job security. Watching these movies gives you an idea that a good movie may be used to represent life's truths and realities. These are some of the most typical issues that individuals who live in cities face, yet they continue to live up to their motto: Filipino Resilience.”

4. Write About A Topic (Describe)

Understanding this Question Type

  • You will get this question once on the test
  • You have 5 minutes to write your answer
  • You must write at least 50 words (but more is better)
  • It contributes towards your production and literacy subscores

For your writing question, you’ll have to choose between three different writing styles: describe, recount, or make an argument.

It is important that you can recognize the writing that you have to do. This is an example of making an argument. 

In the Duolingo English Test, the purpose of this writing is to describe and classify information without any personal opinion from you. Your primary goal is to discuss the topic focusing on the 

DET Writing Sample Question Describe
i) Organize your answer 
  • Topic Sentence: It provides readers with the necessary background information to comprehend the content, such as who was involved, where it occurred, and when it happened.
  • Supporting Ideas: A description of a sequence of events that occurred in the past.
  • Concluding Sentence: This is where a personal remark regarding the incident or the outcome.
ii) Tips and Tricks in Writing to Describe

Here are some pointers to remember in writing to describe:

  • Nouns and noun phrases replace personal pronouns. Use Personal pronouns sparingly.
  • Uses present tense in the majority of reports
  • To provide consistency, linking verbs like as is, are, has, have, and belong to are employed.
  • Some action verbs are used (climb, eat).
  • Color, form, size, bodily parts, habits, behaviors, functions, and purposes are examples of descriptive language that is real rather than creative.
iii) Sample Question: (Describe)
DET Writing Sample Question Describe Details

How To Write Your Answer To This Task?

i) Topic Sentence 

This introduces the reader to the topic of the recount in this initial section, which includes any essential background information and context.

“Around the world, life expectancy is increasing, which has both positive and negative effects.”
ii) Supporting Ideas

This is the part where you will prove your claim or support your topic sentence. It has to be important, noteworthy, and relevant.

“An aging population has several advantages, such as allowing more children to know their grandparents and great-grandparents. Elderly people in good health can pass on their wealth of knowledge to new generations and continue to contribute to society. However, one of the most serious consequences is the financial strain it places on taxpayers. As more people live together and retire for longer periods, there is a lack of cash available for basics such as pensions and healthcare. As a result, future generations will be forced to foot the cost through increased taxes. Yet, there are societal advantages to this occurrence. One advantage is that grandparents may spend more time with their grandchildren, which can help foster a stronger sense of community and promote family values.”
iii) Conclusion

Your conclusion must leave your readers to think about it and summarize your topic matters.

“To summarize, life expectancy will continue to rise, and we must embrace the good and bad consequences this will have on society.”

An Example of A Model Answer

“Around the world, life expectancy is increasing, which has both positive and negative effects. An aging population has several advantages, such as allowing more children to know their grandparents and great-grandparents. Elderly people in good health can pass on their wealth of knowledge to new generations and continue to contribute to society. However, one of the most serious consequences is the financial strain it places on taxpayers. As more people live together and retire for longer periods, there is a lack of cash available for basics such as pensions and healthcare. As a result, future generations will be forced to foot the cost through increased taxes. Yet, there are societal advantages to this occurrence. One advantage is that grandparents may spend more time with their grandchildren, which can help foster a stronger sense of community and promote family values. To summarize, life expectancy will continue to rise, and we must embrace the good and bad consequences this will have on society.”

Examples of Answers for the Writing Samples Section

Here are some sample writing outputs that can serve as your model in producing your own. Don’t forget to time yourself as you practice.

1. What Would You Do Otherwise Than Your Parents In Raising Your Children If You Had Children?

“For me, I believe that parenting is both a challenging and fulfilling task. We cannot discount our parents' sacrifice and hard work in raising us. Indeed, I am forever indebted to my parents for their unwavering love and care, but there is one thing I would like to alter for my children: to instill in them the confidence to face the trials of a changing world. My parents want me to concentrate on one subject. While I believe children must be multi-skilled. People who are skilled in many fields have greater chances in today's environment.”

2. What Role Do Automobiles And Aircraft Have In Modern Life? Explain

“In today's fast-paced world, life would be impossible without rapid forms of transportation such as vehicles and aircraft. Have you considered a place where no one owns an automobile? Getting to work would be incredibly difficult. Although public buses are an alternative, most commuters rely on personal vehicles to go to work. Without aircraft, there would be no way to travel between far-flung locations or nations. There would be no trade or tourists. The global economy will regress to the early ages of human civilization. All of the world's growth thus far has been largely reliant on the modes of transportation that connect us to other places.“

3. Describe The Geography Of The Country Where You Currently Live. How Does The Geography Of The Country Affect Its People And Its Culture?

“Bandung is Indonesia's third most populated city. With its geographical location, the climate in Bandung is tropical highland monsoon. Bandung's weather is colder than most Indonesian cities due to its height, making it attractive to tourists. Its proximity to Jakarta makes it a favorite weekend escape for Jakartans; tourists clog the town arriving from the capital during holiday seasons. It is the capital of the province of West Java and an essential hub for Indonesian commercial and economic activity. It is locally known as Kota Kembang, literally meaning Flowery City, because Bandung had many flowers in the colonial and republic eras until the early 1960s. The Dutch nicknamed Parijs van Java (Paris of Java) for its resemblance to Paris and the European atmosphere back in colonial times.”

FAQs on the Duolingo English Test Writing Questions

1. How Difficult Are The Questions Asked In The Duolingo English Test?

It depends. Due to its adaptive nature, the system randomizes the order of the questions. The difficulty depends on the candidate’s performance.

2. Is The Writing Sample On The DET Graded?

No, the system does not grade this section. It is part of the video interview and writing sample that the Duolingo English Test will share with your prospective institution. It is not marked, but you have to showcase yourself well, even in this part.

3. Are Duolingo English Test Practice Papers Useful?

Taking the Duolingo English Test practice papers will assist you in understanding the kind of questions presented in the original test, thereby familiarizing you with the type, complexity, and amount of questions you may encounter on the Duolingo English Test 2021. 

4. What Are The Types Of Questions On The Duolingo English Test?

A Duolingo English Test includes questions from the four English proficiency test components: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Adaptive Test & Video Interview and Writing are the two major areas in which multiple-choice questions are asked in the test.

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