Duolingo English Test and US College Admissions: All You Need to Know | Top Universities

Duolingo English Test and US College Admissions: All You Need to Know

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 21, 2021 Updated April 21, 2021

Many US college admissions require proof you have a sufficient level of English. This proficiency is usually proved by taking an English language test, such as the SAT, ACT or the TOEFL. Unfortunately, several of these tests have largely been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you need an English proficiency test, don’t worry. A number of universities in the US and the UK are now accepting the Duolingo English Test, a 60-minute online test which gives you quick results. 

It's worth noting that some of the original test providers have now also launched special home editions of the English Language tests, such as the TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition test.

What is a Duolingo English test?

What is a Duolingo English test?

 The Duolingo English test is an English language proficiency exam created by the popular language learning platform, Duolingo. 

The Duolingo English test will give you a certified proficiency score, a video interview and a writing sample. The test costs an extremely affordable $49 and takes less than one hour to complete. It’s designed so if you get a question right, the next question gets harder.

You’ll receive your results within 48 hours of completing the test and these can be shared immediately with any university.

How to access the Duolingo English Test  

How to access the Duolingo English Test

To take the Duolingo English test, you’ll need:

  • Some form of ID: This might be your passport, driver’s license or government ID
  • A reliable internet connection
  • A computer: Your laptop or desktop computer must have a front-facing camera, a microphone and speakers
  • Access to a well-lit, quiet room to complete the test

What the Duolingo English test covers 

What the Duolingo English test covers

The Duolingo English test involves three main parts: the setup, the adaptive test and the video interview/writing test.

The setup

The first stage is a quick five-minute set-up which allows you to try the test before buying. When you’ve decided you’re ready to take the test, you’ll receive instructions on how to download the app onto your computer.

You’ll then be required to go through a few preparation processes such as testing to see if your microphone and camera work and submitting your ID. Duolingo will then walk you through the test rules and requirements.

The adaptive test

Once you start the exam, you’ll be asked to complete an adaptive test. This is a graded section of the test that evaluates your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills.

In this section, you’ll be required to complete a variety of short tests.

Here are just a few things you might be asked to do:

  • Type out phrases which are read out to you
  • Write down what’s happening in a picture
  • Answer a short essay question (speaking out loud)
  • Select the real English words from a list of real and fake words
  • Complete a sentence with missing letters
  • Read a sentence aloud
  • Respond to a question in writing

The test is primarily computer scored; however, a human reviewer will watch a recording of your test after you’ve completed it. 

Once you’ve completed the test, you’ll receive a score ranging from 10-160 within 48 hours, as well as a full breakdown of your score by section.

The video interview and writing test

Once you’ve completed the adaptive test, you’ll be required to record a video interview and complete a writing sample. This section of the exam will not be graded but will be available to any institutions that receive your score. 

The video interview

For the video interview you’ll be given two topics to choose from which you’ll be required to talk about for one to three minutes.

The examples Duolingo offered were:

Topic 1: Do you think parents should be held responsible if their child causes trouble at school or in public? Why or why not? 

Topic 2: What is the one thing you like about your personality? How has this quality helped you succeed or be a good friend to others? Is this a quality that everyone should have? 

Once selected, a timer for three minutes will start, and you can talk about your chosen topic for as long as you’d like within this time frame. 

The writing test

Once you’ve completed this, you’ll be required to choose one of two topics to write about for three to five minutes. 

Examples given for the writing test include:

Topic 1: Who is a person you think you have impacted in your life? What impact have you had on the person, and how?

Topic 2: Describe the last time you enjoyed being out in nature. Do you think people should spend more time outdoors? How would this affect people’s quality of life? 

Once again, when you’ve selected your topic, your three-minute timer will start and you can answer your chosen question.

Which schools accept the Duolingo English test?

Which schools accept the Duolingo English test?

There are currently 1,415 schools that accept the Duolingo English test, including Yale UniversityNYU Stern School of Business, Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management and University of Illinois Urbana Campaign’s College of Business.

You can view the full list of schools accepting the test here.

TopUniversities spoke with Jeff Tousignant, head of marketing for the Duolingo English Test, about the future of the online exam. See what he had to say here.

This article was originally published in September 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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