Duolingo English Test (DET) and Strategies to Pass the Test

You are currently viewing Duolingo English Test (DET) and Strategies to Pass the Test

< The Duolingo English Test will change some question types and the new test format will start on May 1st, 2023>

Starting from May 1st, 2023, the Duolingo English Test will undergo revisions, with one new type of question being added. The previously ungraded question (speaking sample) will now be graded and reflected in the overall score. One existing question type (listening to a word and selecting the real English word) will no longer be included in the test.

Newly added questions:

  • Listen and Respond questions (5-6 questions): A certain situation is set, and the conversation text (the first sentence of the conversation is blank, or the conversation text in response to a question is blank) is presented. You will be asked to fill in the blank (choose the most appropriate conversation text to start the conversation: Pick the best option to start the conversation, or choose the most appropriate response to the question: Select the best response).

  • Previously, speaking sample questions were not graded and were sent to the application universities as a reference. From now on, the speaking sample questions will also be graded and reflected in the test score. The grading will be done in the same way as the Read and then Speak questions.

Questions to be removed (deleted):

  • Removal of Listen & Select questions: Listen to a word and choose the actual existing English word.


Hello everyone, today we will be introducing the Duolingo English Test (DET), which is one of the English proficiency tests required for admission to universities and colleges for international students.

We will cover the characteristics of the Duolingo English Test listed below, including how to take the test and how to prepare for it.

  • The differences between the Duolingo English Test, TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC tests
  • How to take the Duolingo English Test
  • Comparison of test scores with other English proficiency tests
  • Test analysis
  • Test preparation strategies (study methods)

In addition, at our school, Mentor Language Institute, we plan to offer Duolingo (DET) Test Program preparation courses around summer 2023.

Let’s summarize the information!

1. Differences of the Duolingo English Test compared to the TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC tests.

Let’s compare the differences between the Duolingo English Test with the TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC tests. First, the Duolingo English Test has the following advantages for international students:

  • The test is significantly shorter.
    The Duolingo English Test can be completed in only 1 hour, which includes 5 minutes for pre-test verification. The vocabulary, grammar, and reading tests are administered in a written format, while the remaining 10 minutes are designated for the writing and speaking tests.

  • The test fee is cheap!
    In the US, the Duolingo English Test can be taken for only $45. In contrast, TOEFL costs $255, IELTS costs $245-$255, TOEIC costs $85, and CEFR costs $385 and up (test fees may vary by country or region).

  • Tests can be taken anywhere.
    The Duolingo English Test can be taken anywhere as long as you have a computer, camera, and microphone. There is no need to travel to a distant test center. It is recognized as an English proficiency test at over 4,000 educational institutions and is treated like TOEFL and IELTS at almost all community colleges in Los Angeles.

  • Adaptive test.
    The Duolingo English Test is called an adaptive test, which means that the questions and levels of difficulty change according to the test-taker’s English level. This is a unique feature that sets it apart from many other English tests.

2. Scoring method, test scores, and score comparison with other English exams

The Duolingo English Test uses an adaptive test method where the algorithm selects questions based on the test-taker’s English proficiency level. Within 48 hours of taking the test, the overall score and four sub-scores, including literacy, comprehension, conversation, and production, are displayed. The composite score is determined by considering all four sub-scores.

Overall Score = Total score 


  1. Literacy: Reading and writing ability
  2. Comprehension: Reading comprehension
  3. Conversation: Speaking ability
  4. Production: Creativity in English


Duolingo test scores are excellent in comparison to TOEFL and IELTS, making it a viable option for individuals who aspire to study abroad or pursue a career overseas. Additionally, Duolingo tests are cost-effective and can be taken anywhere, making them highly valued for their affordability when compared to TOEFL and IELTS.

Here’s an explanation of how the Duolingo test scoring system works. There are two crucial points that you need to know about Duolingo scoring:

Multiple-choice question score:

For questions with predetermined correct answers such as fill-in-the-blank or reading comprehension, you’ll receive small points even if your spelling isn’t entirely accurate. Therefore, it’s essential to answer all questions, leaving no blanks.

No correct answers for writing or speaking scores:

Duolingo uses its proprietary algorithm (AI) to grade writing and speaking sections. Points are deducted for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, so answering with correct sentences will earn you a higher score.

The following points should be kept in mind:

  1. Don’t leave any blanks!
    Since the Duolingo test uses an addition-based system, there’s no penalty for selecting an incorrect answer. However, failing to answer any questions will result in fewer points. Additionally, points are deducted for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, so providing correct sentences will help you earn higher scores.

  2. Written and spoken responses:
    In this type of question, accurate English grammar, variety, word level, correct word selection, and answering the question asked are used as scoring criteria. Additionally, the length of your response, speaking fluency, and pronunciation speed within the limited time frame will impact your score.

By keeping these points in mind, you can achieve high scores on the Duolingo test. It’s especially important to answer all questions and provide accurate, high-level written and spoken responses in the written and spoken response sections. Spelling, grammar, word choice accuracy, fluency, and speaking speed also impact the score, so it’s crucial to prepare and practice adequately.

The chart below summarizes the conversion of Duolingo test scores to scores on TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and CEFR.

If you are planning to enroll in a community college in the United States, typically you would need a TOEFL (iBT) score of 45 or an IELTS score of 5.0. However, with the Duolingo Test, you can now gain
admission with a score of 75! (As of 2023)

Admission score criteria for Los Angeles community college.

College Score
West LA College 70
Santa Monica College 75
Los Angeles City College 75
Glendale Community College 75
East LA College 75
El Camino College 75
Pasadena City College 80
Long Beach City College 85
Orange Coast College 90
Pierce College 95
Valley College 95

However, for highly ranked universities, a considerably high score is required.

3.  How to Apply for and Take the Duolingo English Test

To take the Duolingo English Test, you must first create an account on the official Duolingo English Test website. To create an account, you need to enter information such as your name, email address, and password.

Next, you need to purchase the test you wish to take. In the Duolingo English Test, you can purchase the test with a credit card. To purchase the test, select “Purchase Test” from “My test” and enter your payment information.

With just this, you can take the test! Additionally, if you purchase two test attempts, the test fee per attempt becomes cheaper, making it a good deal for those considering taking the test multiple times.


You can easily apply for the Duolingo English Test, so please give it a try.

4. Introduction to Test Questions

Duolingo English Test offers 17 different question styles, although the content of the questions may vary (for example, the photo in a question that asks you to describe it in writing may change). Therefore, the most important preparation for the test is to be ready to apply your answering style to the different question styles. Understanding the question types will have a significant impact on your score. Although not all questions can be answered with the same approach, preparation is essential.

Each test includes the following number of questions with time limits:

  • Listening: 2 questions.
  • Reading comprehension: 5 questions.
  • Speaking: 4 questions.
  • Writing: 3 questions.

You must answer each question within the time limit. Overall, the test takes approximately one hour. The difficulty of the test varies depending on the question type and response time, but with solid preparation, you can take the test with confidence.


Question Format Scoring method Frequency
– Fill-in-the-blank questions A predetermined score is added.
Misspelled words receive fewer points.
Each section has
about 4-6 questions.
– Choose the English word from the given words
– Choose the English word after listening to the word
– Dictation
– Oral reading
– Describe the picture in writing  Scored by AI 3 questions
– Describe the picture by speaking Scored by AI 1 question
– Read the question and answer in writing. Scored by AI 1 question
– Read the question and answer by speaking. Scored by AI 1 question
– Answer by speaking after listening to the question. Scored by AI 1 question
– Insert appropriate English words into the paragraph.

A predetermined score is added.
Misspelled words receive fewer points.

2 sets
(1 set: 3 questions)
– Writing sample Scored by AI 1 question
– Speaking sample Scored by AI 1 question


<Pattern 1> Fill-in-the-blank questions.

In this type of question, several letters of a word in the passage are missing. Fill in the appropriate letters to make the correct word/sentence.


<Pattern 2> Choosing actual English words from a word list.


<Pattern 3> Dictation.

In this type of question, listen to a passage and type what you hear accurately. 

<Pattern 4> Reading short passages and recording them.

In this type of question, read a short passage and record your voice reading it.

<Pattern 5> Writing a passage describing a picture (Writing).

In this type of question, write a passage that describes a given picture.

<Pattern 6> Speaking a description of a picture (Recording) (Speaking).

In this type of question, speak a description of a given picture and record your voice.

<Pattern 7> Writing a passage in response to a prompt (Writing).

In this type of question, read a prompt or question and write a passage in response.

<Pattern 8> Speaking a response to a prompt (Recording) (Speaking)

In this type of question, read a prompt or question and speak your response, recording your voice.

<Pattern 9> Speaking an answer to a question (Recording) (Speaking).

In this type of question, listen to a question and speak your answer, recording your voice.

<Pattern 10> Filling in missing words in a short paragraph (Typing).

In this type of question, a short paragraph is presented with missing words throughout. Type in the missing words to complete the paragraph. 

<Pattern 11> A long text is presented, and a paragraph is missing.

Choose the best paragraph to insert from four options given to complete the text.

<Pattern 12> Highlight the Answer in a Short Paragraph/Passage Problem.

<Pattern 13> Reading a short paragraph and selecting the best title (headline) from four options that represents the main idea (what the paragraph is about).


<Pattern 14> Choose the Best Title for a Short Paragraph.

Read a short paragraph and select the best title from four options provided. This exercise will help you improve your ability to create engaging and effective titles for your content. Choose a title that accurately reflects the topic of your writing and uses relevant keywords to attract readers to your work. This exercise will assist you in honing your skills in crafting compelling titles that accurately represent your writing’s content. 

<Pattern 15> Read the prompt and express your opinion by deciding whether to agree or disagree. Write about your own opinion (Writing).

<Pattern 16> Read the prompt and express your opinion by deciding whether to agree or disagree. Talk about your own opinion (Speaking).

5. Test Preparation Methods (Study Methods)

The Duolingo English Test is a difficult test to study for because there are no past question collections or textbooks available for this new test!

Below are things you should do before taking the test! Additionally, if you plan to study for it, we will provide you with effective study methods! Learn about the test questions and practice by creating several similar questions!

  1. Learn about the test questions and practice by creating several similar questions!

    First and foremost, take the Duolingo practice test! You can’t prepare without knowing your enemy!
    Duolingo’s website offers free strategy guides and practice tests, which are the best way to learn about the types of questions that will be asked (as explained above).

    Additionally, since similar style questions will appear, practicing by creating your own photo questions and other types of questions will help you score better on the actual test!

    Furthermore, if you want to prepare more deeply for the test, you can establish your own style by writing a short paragraph for each type of question on a given topic, such as an Agree/Disagree question, starting with a general perspective and ending with your own opinion and supporting ideas before concluding with your own view. By practicing with a few of these, you can further improve your score.

  2. Practice reading English sentences out loud (short sentences are fine too, no need for long ones).
    In the Duolingo English Test, you will need to read short sentences out loud. When doing so, it’s important to determine where to break the sentence (where to take a breath) and what intonation to use (whether to raise or lower the tone at the end of the sentence). Practice your pronunciation by reading blog posts and news articles out loud.

  3. It’s important to firmly grasp the basics of English vocabulary and grammar, including spelling.
    In the Duolingo English Test, you need to read and listen to a list of words and identify which ones are real. If you’re aiming for a score of 60-115 on the Duolingo English Test, you’ll need to master B1/B2 level vocabulary. To do this, use the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary and filter for B1/B2 level. The dictionary also provides American and British pronunciations, which can be helpful for practicing your own pronunciation.

    It’s also helpful to get accustomed to basic English vocabulary visually and auditorily by reading the  Oxford Learner’s Dictionary thoroughly and listening to word pronunciations. This can be useful for the actual test. Although you may often skim over it, make it a habit to engage with English and pay attention to details such as word spellings. There are also fill-in-the-blank questions involving basic English grammar and vocabulary (sometimes including pronouns like “it” and articles like “the”), so make sure to keep an eye out for these and practice them on a daily basis.

  4. Practice dictation!

    In the Duolingo English Test, you need to write down short sentences that you hear. Try listening to podcasts or YouTube videos, pause and write down the last sentence you heard. Then, try reading them out loud.


The Duolingo test is a new test that has rapidly gained recognition in the last two years, so there are currently no preparation questionnaires available. Therefore, it is very important to prepare yourself using various materials in your own way. It is also best to study by looking at the opinions and methods of experts to establish your own preparation methods.

We have also studied the Duolingo test and created our own strategy guide and practice tests to use in our classes. If you are considering pursuing university education in Los Angeles and are thinking of using your Duolingo score for your university application, I think that our Duolingo test preparation course will definitely help you achieve a high score in a short period of time, so please try our classes and then study on your own after receiving the necessary tools.

We wish you all the best in achieving your goals and scores in a short period of time!
Good Luck!!


CEO & PDSO (Principal designated school official) at Mentor Language Institute

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