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Duolingo English Test Updates - April 2024

The Duolingo English Test has been around for quite a while now. From humble beginnings in 2016, it has skyrocketed in terms of both its popularity with students and its status as a genuine 'high stakes' English language test. In order to continually improve, Duolingo English Test updates were released this month.

In this post we will share information about how the test works, how widely accepted it is nowadays, how Duolingo have adapted the test recently, and some commonly broken rules to avoid while taking the test.

What is the Duolingo English Test (DET)?

The DET is an online English language test which provides test takers with an overall score certifying their English language proficiency. The DET overall score ranges from 10 to 160, with a further breakdown of 4 sub-scores for:

Literacy - the ability to read and write

Production - the ability to write and speak

Comprehension - the ability to read and listen

Conversation - the ability to listen and speak

Unlike other English language tests, Duolingo recognize that functional skills cannot really be separated into distinctly different categories and have created their own unique system to reflect that. For example, the subsection for Conversation recognizes that listening is an integral part of having a conversation, while other tests ignore listening and focus only on what you say during a conversation. We feel that this is actually a great step forward in the way English language tests are created and graded as it better reflects how language is used in real life.

How does the DET work?

The DET is an online test which can be taken anywhere (more about this later), takes about 1 hour to complete, and you receive your result within 2 days. The DET uses AI to adapt the test to each test taker's ability, meaning that every test is unique! After registering on the DET website, you can practice the test for free as many times as you like so that you will feel comfortable and confident when you decide to take the test for real. In summary, the DET is an adaptive online English test which is convenient, quick to take, free to practice, and provides results fast.

When you take the test for real, you need to have a government-issued ID card present - not a copy but the physical ID itself. The DET is open to any age, but if you are under 13 years old, you will need to obtain permission from a parent or legal guardian before taking the test.

Commonly Broken Rules

We met with Duolingo recently and they highlighted 4 rules which are most commonly being broken by test takers, and which in turn mean that the test scores become invalid.

It is firstly important to understand that because the test is being done online, it is probably being scrutinized even more than tests which are taken in-person. When you take an in-person test there are examiners and test invigilators making sure that you are not breaking the rules. However, because the DET is taken online, you (the test taker) are responsible for ensuring that you adhere to the rules. So, taking the DET requires you to take personal responsibility for following all the rules.

In addition, the DET uses AI known as 'human in the loop AI', which means that a human is double-checking decisions made by the AI. This relates not only to your English language proficiency, but also in checking that you have followed all the rules. They will be checking for subtleties like where you're looking, whether or not you are alone, and any other details which suggest that you may be trying to cheat the test. Again, this comes back to the test taker accepting responsibility for following the rules and, in turn, maintaining the integrity of the DET and its results.

The 4 most commonly broken rules are:

  1. Not keeping your eyes on the screen - this is something you should practice, and remember that you can practice as much as you like for free.

  2. Other apps or windows open on your computer screen - you should only have the DET open and absolutely nothing else. If you are switching between apps or windows, the system will detect it and your test/score will be invalid.

  3. You are not alone or are interrupted by other people - you need to be sure that you will not be interrupted. Choose a day and time when you will be alone; close the door; put a sign on the door saying not to open it ... do whatever you need to do to ensure you will be 100% alone for the duration of the test.

  4. Memorized answers + copy/paste answers - you must respond naturally. It is never a good idea to memorize answers for any language test because they want to see your natural ability to write, converse etc. Also, the system will detect if you copy/paste an answer from somewhere else, so please don't even try. Just respond naturally and the AI will adapt the test to your ability.

What are the DET Updates in 2024?

  • There are new 'fill in the blanks' questions. There will be 6 to 9 of this question type and you have 20 seconds to answer each one. About half of each word is missing and you need to complete the missing part. These are adaptive, meaning that subsequent questions will be a bit easier or harder than the previous one depending on your performance.

  • The 'read and select' section has been changed. It used to show multiple words on the screen and you needed to select which words were real. Now it will show only 1 word at a time, and you have 5 seconds to decide if it is a real English word or not. This section is also adaptive.

  • The 'read then write' section has been removed and replaced with an 'interactive writing'. You will be given a question and 5 minutes to write an answer, and you will then receive a follow-up question and 3 more minutes to answer that.

  • Question frequency - some question types will appear more or less frequently which is a natural development of the adaptive AI model used.

  • The price has seen a small increase to US $65 as of April 15 2024.

How widely accepted is the DET?

The number of university programs accepting the DET is expanding year-on-year. Additionally, the DET is now accepted by many countries as part of their visa application processes, meaning that depending on where you plan to study, the DET may be the only English language test you need to take.

Number of University Programs Accepting Duolingo English Test
Number of University Programs Accepting Duolingo English Test

Duolingo English Test Acceptance by US Universities.
Duolingo English Test Acceptance by US Universities.

Duolingo English Test Acceptance by Canadian Universities
Duolingo English Test Acceptance by Canadian Universities

Duolingo English Test Acceptance for Visas
Duolingo English Test Acceptance for Visas

The DET has undoubtedly demonstrated its value, validity, and reliability since its inception, and this is reflected in the fact that it is accepted by top quality institutions all around the world. It's low cost, convenience, adaptability, and fast result turnaround make it, in our opinion, the only English language proficiency test you should consider if it can be used for both your university and visa applications.

As always, if you would like help searching for a university course or anything else to do with studying abroad, please contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.


To learn more about the DET go to:

Try out the new test questions at:

Read about the new question types at:

Watch a video about the new question types at:

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