duolingo english test

Top 10 Myths about the Duolingo English Test

Over the past few months, I’ve been searching all over the internet trying to find as much information as I can about this new Duolingo English Test. I found some great information but also some bad information too!

In this blog we’re going to go through 10 of the biggest myths surrounding this test. So let’s get to it!

Myth 1: The Duolingo English test is easier than IELTS and TOFEL

In terms of English proficiency this is just simply not true. The Duolingo English Test, IELTS, TOFEL the PTE, all of these language proficiency tests all yield very similar results. For example, if you have a band 7 in IELTS then you’re likely to get anywhere between 115 and 120 on the Duolingo English Test. They are designed to yield similar results. That is why they are reliable tests. However, in terms of logistics I think the Duolingo English Test can be seen as a bit easier than the other tests simply because you can do the Duolingo English Test from your home, at a time that you’re comfortable. You don’t have to go to a test centre early in the morning, you can do this test in your living room or in your bedroom at any time you feel comfortable. For this reason, it can be considered easier for some.

Myth 2: You can write or speak about anything in the writing and speaking tasks

This is the most dangerous myth on my list the answer is NO! You cannot do that. Even though the Duolingo English Test is not marked by a human, the AI knows the exact topic and knows what type of response is required. The AI is looking for topic vocabulary, a coherent answer to the question, and it’s checking if you actually answer the question or not. So no, this myth is completely not true. For example, if you are given this picture to describe;

you need to mention vocabulary related to cars, traffic, transportation, etc. You cannot just prepare an answer and use that in your test. That’s the best way to fail this test so please ignore this myth.

Myth 3: You should always write more than 50 words in the writing tasks

For the extended writing task, the prompt would say answer this question or answer this prompt with at least 50 words. So does this mean you can write 50 and stop? Should you always write more? Well, the answer is not really about quantity, it’s about quality. If you’re able to answer the question, use complex sentences, use topic vocabulary all at 50 words, then you can stop at 50. But, remember that the Duolingo English Test is a test of your English skills, so if you write 50 words which all contain very simple sentence structures, you won’t get a high score. The only reason to write more than 50 words is to demonstrate or show off your English. But like I said, if you can do that and stop at 50 words, that won’t hurt your score at all. This myth is not true but you should write more than 50 words if you feel that you need more space or more sentences to show off your English or to answer the question, but stopping at 50 is ok.

Myth 4: You need a native accent to get a high score in speaking

This one is not true. You DO NOT need a native British, American, Australian accent to get a high score in speaking. Your accent is fine; however, don’t confuse accent with pronunciation. You need to be able to use English pronunciation features effectively in order to get a high score. Things like phoneme pronunciation, connected speech, intonation, pausing at the right time. These features will affect your score, but your accent will not. Instead of thinking about your accent, focus on English pronunciation features.

Myth 5: Finishing the tasks quickly will get you a better score

Okay, I understand the logic behind this myth, but again it’s not true. Every Duolingo English Test task gives you a time limit, if you finish it quicker you might think that the computer sees that you’re able to do it quicker and thus your English is better, so you should get a higher score. But that is not the case. The test does not care if you finish in 10 seconds or 30 seconds you just simply must finish the task within the time frame. I recommend that you take your time because the tasks on the Duolingo English Test come at you quickly. If you finish a task earlier than you expected, take that 5 or 10 seconds to have a breather and get ready for the next question.

Myth 6: Speaking quickly will get you a better score in speaking

Not exactly. Of course, speed and fluency are related. You must not speak too slow otherwise it will affect your fluency score. However if you force yourself to speak quicker than you actually can, you could end up hurting your score because your pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary will suffer because you are trying to speak too quickly. Instead, I recommend you speak at a pace that you feel comfortable and keep that steady and smooth. This will help you a lot more than just trying to speak quickly.

Myth 7:You should never repeat vocabulary in the writing and speaking tasks

I see this one a lot and I know why some students think this way. Many of the proficiency tests out there do require students to show off their vocabulary range. That means that the tests are looking for you to show off your vocabulary and use as many words as you possibly can, so if possible, you should try to use synonyms or reference words instead of repeating the same word over and over again. However, sometimes this is just not possible, and when it’s not possible you will not get marked down for using the same word over and over again. Don’t worry too much about this but always remember that if you do know a synonym try to use that instead.

Myth 8: Every sentence you write needs to be a complex sentence

Not exactly. Of course, when you’re writing you can use some simple sentences as well; however, when possible, you should try to demonstrate your English skills by using complex sentences. Complex sentences include compound sentences, relative clauses, wish sentences, if sentences, etc. However, if every single sentence in your writing is a complex sentence, it will look unnatural, so you should try to mix simple sentences with complex sentences. The short answer to this myth is, NO every sentence does not need to be a complex sentence.

Myth 9: Using the backspace will lose you points for spelling

This myth is one that a student of mine mentioned to me. She said that if you hit the backspace, that means you delete a word, then you will lose points for spelling because the computer will think that you misspelled a word and you’re changing it, therefore you will lose some points. This one is simply NOT TRUE! You will only get marked after you click the next button and move on to the next question. You can change as much as you want before that and you won’t get marked down at all!

Myth 10: Punctuation isn’t important in the dictation task

I saw this one on a blog and the writer was trying to say that it’s more important to write down every word you hear, than to worry about punctuation. While this might be true, punctuation is still really important. So always remember to put a capital letter for the first word, and a full stop at the end, and to use commas when appropriate. If you want to get the top score on dictation, then you need to use the punctuation marks perfectly!

Do you want to study more with me?
Here’s how:

1 – Practice Platform: www.practice.detready.com
Sign up for free. Practice all the 10 question types on the Duolingo Test and see the correct answers immediately. Works great on your computer and phone!

2 – Writing courses:
Writing about the topic (50+ words) course: https://bit.ly/duolingo50words
Writing about the photo course: https://bit.ly/duolingotestphoto

3- Speaking courses: Coming soon 😎

Keep on learning!

Teacher Luke

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