Hi 👋 Teacher Luke here
Today’s post will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about the Duolingo English Test 2023. Whether you’re planning to take the test or simply curious about what to expect, this post will guide you through the exam features, question types, and offer valuable tips and strategies to help you score high.
What is the Duolingo English Test?
The Duolingo English Test is a modernized English proficiency exam, similar to the IELTS or TOEFL tests. It is an online, computer-based test that offers several unique features. While you can find detailed information about the Duolingo Test on their official website, this blog post will focus on five key features you should know before taking the exam.
- Flexibility: Unlike traditional exams, the Duolingo English Test can be taken at any time and from anywhere. You don’t need to visit a test center or book specific time slots. As long as you are alone in a well-lit room, you can take the test whenever it’s convenient for you.
- Time Efficiency: The Duolingo Test is relatively short, lasting only one hour, compared to the three to four hours required by other exams. Additionally, you will receive your test results within 48 hours, reducing the waiting time and alleviating result-related stress.
- Single Section: Unlike exams such as TOEFL or IELTS, which consist of separate sections for reading, listening, speaking, and writing, the Duolingo test has only one section. This section encompasses various question types that evaluate all these skills together. It adds an element of surprise as you won’t know which question type comes next. Furthermore, the time limit for each question type is significantly shorter compared to other exams, with most questions ranging from one to three minutes. Even for the writing questions, which tend to be the longest, you will have only five minutes to complete your response. This format allows you to focus on shorter, concise answers, which many test takers find preferable.
- Adaptive Testing: The Duolingo Test utilizes adaptive testing, a modern approach where the difficulty level of the questions adjusts according to your performance. If you answer questions correctly, subsequent questions will become more challenging to match your proficiency level. Conversely, if you struggle with certain questions, the test will provide relatively easier ones. This adaptive system ensures a tailored assessment of your English skills.
- Scoring System: The scoring system for the Duolingo Test ranges from 10 to 160. Most universities require a Duolingo score between 100 and 120, which is equivalent to band six and band seven on the IELTS scale. Your overall score will be accompanied by sub-scores for literacy, comprehension, conversation, and production. Many test takers find the production score, which assesses speaking and writing, to be the most challenging. To improve in these areas, it is recommended to explore specific speaking and writing preparation materials tailored for the Duolingo English Test.
It’s worth noting that the Duolingo English Test, although relatively new, is gaining popularity, with over 4,500 universities and institutions currently accepting it. As its recognition continues to grow, the test provides a convenient and modern option for assessing English proficiency.
Now that we have covered the key features of the Duolingo English Test, let’s explore the various question types you can expect during the exam and some tips and strategies to help you excel in each one.
All 13 Question Types (2023)
- Read and Complete: In this question type, your task is to read a passage and fill in the blanks. The passages are typically around 100 words in length, and you will need to complete approximately eight to ten words. While most passages are nonfiction, focusing on factual reporting, some may include fictional or story-based texts.
Here are some tips to approach this question type:
- Before typing your answers, read the title, first, and last sentences of the passage. These portions will be complete sentences and will provide context and topic information.
- Start by completing the words you are confident about. Don’t waste time pondering over unfamiliar words initially. Once you have completed the words you know, reread the passage and try to fill in the gaps using context clues.
- Pay attention to both the topic information and your grammatical knowledge to complete the gaps. Some words will be content words, while others will be grammatical words like “who,” “which,” or “that.”
2. Read and Select: This vocabulary question type requires you to select the real English words from a list. The list will contain both real and unreal words, and your task is to identify the words with meaning. It’s crucial to only select the words you are confident are real English words and avoid guessing or selecting words you are unsure about. To prepare for this question type, focus on building your vocabulary by continually learning new words.
3. Listen and Type: In this dictation question type, you will listen to a sentence and type out exactly what you hear. You have one minute to complete this task, and the sentences are typically not very long. Here are some tips to help you tackle this question type:
- Try to type out every word you hear, aiming for accuracy. If you miss a few words during the listening, type out as much as you can. The Duolingo Test questions are graded on a sliding scale, so the more you can write, the better your score will be.
- Take advantage of the multiple listening opportunities. Listen and fill in any gaps in the sentence during the second and third listenings, using the information you already wrote down as a guide.
- After writing, use your grammatical knowledge to review the sentence for any potential mistakes.
4. Read Aloud: This question type assesses your pronunciation and overall speaking ability. You will be given a sentence to read aloud within a strict time limit of 20 seconds. It’s essential to read the entire sentence silently in your head before recording, as reading silently is faster than speaking aloud. Use the 20-second preparation time wisely, as every second counts. When you begin reading, speak loudly and naturally, focusing on your pronunciation. Remember that you can only record your answer once, and it’s challenging to redo it within the short time limit,
5. Interactive Reading: Interactive reading is a unique question type that consists of five different question types within a single reading passage. You will encounter two interactive reading passages during the test. Let’s briefly go through the question types:
- Read and Select: After reading the passage, you need to select the best option for each missing word. There will be five options for each gap, and it’s important to answer all the questions before moving on to the next question type.
- Complete the Passage: In this question type, you are provided with the first part of the passage, which is the same as in the previous question type. Additionally, you are given the second part of the passage at the bottom. Your task is to select the best sentence to complete the passage, ensuring the flow of the text.
- Highlight the Answer: This question type requires you to find specific information in the passage and highlight the correct answer. Highlight only what is necessary, focusing on relevant information.
- Identify the Idea: Here, you read the entire passage and choose the main idea or central theme from the provided options.
- Title the Passage: After reading the passage, your task is to select the most suitable title that accurately reflects the content. Choose from the given options.
6 – Interactive Listening: Interactive listening is a relatively new question type that consists of two parts. In the listening part, you participate in an academic conversation and choose the best response based on the context. The conversation questions are in multiple-choice format, and you can listen up to three times. After completing the questions, you can read the conversation again. Following the listening section, you will write a summary of the conversation within a time limit of 75 seconds. Focus on summarizing the key points and use a structure to organize your response effectively.
7. Write About the Photo: In this writing question type, you have one minute to describe a photo through writing. Aim to write at least one complete sentence, but if possible, write two or three sentences to provide more detail. Analyze the photo carefully, focusing on the main subject, actions, objects, and their locations. It’s recommended to learn a structure for writing about a photo to generate ideas and write more efficiently. Check out my Ultimate Production Score Program to learn how you can write about a photo excellently!
8- Speak About the Photo: Similar to writing about the photo, you now have 90 seconds to speak about a given photo. Use the 20-second preparation time to analyze the photo and generate ideas. Be descriptive and use adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions to bring the photo to life. Try to vary your grammar and vocabulary, elaborate on your ideas, and aim to speak for the entire 90 seconds, providing a detailed description.
9. Read, Then Speak: This question type requires you to speak for 90 seconds on a given topic after reading a prompt card. The prompt provides a general topic and four questions to answer throughout your speaking response. During the 20-second preparation time, carefully read the prompt, focus on the topic and questions, and aim to answer all of them. Use transition phrases, vary your grammar and vocabulary, and elaborate on your ideas to provide a coherent and extended response. Learn more tips here: Duolingo English Test: 7 Speaking Tips From Experts
10. Listen, Then Speak: Similar to read, then speak, this question type involves listening to a prompt and speaking for 90 seconds. Take advantage of the 20-second listening time to understand the topic and formulate ideas. It’s crucial to listen attentively and speak related to the prompt topic. Use transitional phrases, vary your grammar and vocabulary, and aim to provide a detailed and coherent response.
11. Read, Then Write: In this question type, you have five minutes to write an answer on a given topic. While five minutes may seem short, remember that you are expected to write one complete and coherent paragraph rather than a full essay. There is no preparation time, so start writing as soon as the prompt appears. Ensure you write a minimum of 50 words, and if possible, write more to showcase your ideas effectively. Learning a structure for writing an academic paragraph can help you organize your answer and incorporate a variety of sentence structures.
12-13. Writing and Speaking Samples: These question types are similar to read, then speak, and read, then write, but your answers will be sent to the universities or institutions you’re applying to along with your scorecard. Your responses are graded and assessed, and they contribute to your overall score. It’s crucial to answer spontaneously and not use memorized answers. Take these question types seriously as your answers will be reviewed by the institutions you’re applying to.
While preparing for the Duolingo English Test, ensure you practice each question type extensively to become familiar with the format and develop effective strategies. Use our Practice Platform= to practice with over 5000 questions!
Focus on improving your English skills in reading, listening, speaking, and writing by practicing regularly and using reliable preparation materials. With consistent practice and targeted preparation, you can increase your chances of achieving a high score on the Duolingo English Test.