IELTS Vs Duolingo: Differences, Exam Format, and Proficiency Level

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IELTS Vs Duolingo: With a multitude of English proficiency tests available to students, selecting the right one can be quite perplexing. At the heart of this decision-making process are two major players: Duolingo and IELTS. This dilemma leaves many students in a state of uncertainty about which test to opt for. To help you navigate this challenge, we have meticulously curated and outlined the key differences between the Duolingo English Test and the IELTS exam. By doing so, we aim to put an end to the debate and provide clarity for students in 2024. That being said, to learn more about Duolingo vs. IELTS, read the complete blog. 


IELTS Vs Duolingo: Differences and Factors to Keep in Mind

While both IELTS and Duolingo English Test (DET) assess English language proficiency, they cater to different needs and have significant differences. Let’s break down the key factors to consider when choosing between them:

DifferenceIELTS DET (Duolingo English Test) 
Format Two formats: Academic and General Training.
Four sections: Listening (30 min), Reading (60 min), Writing (60 min), and Speaking (11-14 min).
Paper-based or computer-delivered.
Formal testing environment at a designated test centre.
Single Format 

Adaptive computer-based test assessing all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) integrated throughout the test.
Shorter duration (45 min).
Can be taken from the comfort of your home.
Scoring Each section scored on a band scale of 0 to 9. 
The Overall score is the average of the four section scores.
Scored on a scale of 10 to 160.
Separate scores are not provided for individual skills.
Acceptance Widely accepted by universities and immigration authorities worldwide (over 11,500 organizations).
Preferred choice for most institutions.
Gaining traction, but acceptance is still limited compared to IELTS.
Check with your target institutions for DET recognition.
Cost Generally more expensive than DET (varies by location).More Cost-Effective 
Focus Designed to assess academic readiness and professional communication skills.More general assessment of everyday English language proficiency.

IELTS Vs Duolingo: Exam Format in 2024

Duolingo vs  IELTS Exam Format: It is crucial for prospective students intending to pursue their education abroad to thoroughly understand the exam format of the English language proficiency test they intend to take, be it Duolingo or IELTS. Staying informed about the test structure can provide students with valuable insights into the types of questions and intricacies involved. This knowledge can give students a competitive edge and enhance their confidence on the day of the actual exam. 

IELTS Exam Format 

Refer to the following table to go through the exam format of the IELTS exam. 

Section Academic Test (Task) General Training (Task)Time 
Listening 4 Recordings4 Recordings30 Minutes + 10 Minutes
Reading 3 Long Passages 3 Long Passages 60 Minutes
Writing Task 1 (Graph, Table, Chart)
Task 2 (Essay)
Task 1 (Letter)
Task 2 ( Essay )
60 Minutes 
Speaking Three Parts: Discussion, Introduction, ConclusionThree Parts: Introduction, Discussion, Conclusion 11-14 Minutes 

Duolingo Exam Format 

The Duolingo test consists of two sections, namely an Adaptive Section & a Video Interview Section. 

  • The exam comprises an Adaptive Section, which features multiple-choice questions that adapt based on the user’s ability level, covering grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. 
  • Additionally, there is a Video Interview Section, where candidates must record brief video responses to prompt questions in the target language.

Refer to the table given below to go through the exam format of the Duolingo English Test. 

SectionDescriptionTime Scored
Introduction The test taker completes a system check and receives a brief overview of the exam format. 5 Minutes No
Adaptive TestThis section assesses reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Questions are chosen based on your performance and difficulty increases as you answer correctly. 45 Minutes Yes
Writing and Speaking This section is not scored but provides universities with a glimpse of your speaking and writing fluency. 10 Minutes No

IELTS vs Duolingo: Proficiency Level

IELTS vs Duolingo Proficiency Level: IELTS and Duolingo are both English proficiency tests, but they serve different purposes and are designed for different audiences. IELTS is more commonly used for academic and immigration purposes, while Duolingo is often used for general language learning and proficiency assessment. Each test has its own unique format and scoring system, catering to the specific needs of its intended users. That being said, refer to the following data to delve deeper into the differences between the two exams based on their proficiency levels. 

IELTS: Score and Proficiency Level

Refer to the table below to go through the IELTS scores and their proficiency levels. 

Proficiency Level IELTS Score
Expert 9
Very Good8.5-8.0
Competent 6.5-6.0
Extremely Limited 3.5-3.0
Intermittent 2.5-2.0
Non User1.5-0

Duolingo: Score and Proficiency Level

Refer to the table below to go through the DET scores and their proficiency levels. 

duolingo proficiency level

IELTS vs Duolingo: Score Comparison

The IELTS exam assesses each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) on a band scale of 0-9. Your overall score is the average of these individual band scores.

The Duolingo English Test (DET), on the other hand, uses a score range of 10-160. While the scoring systems differ, a conversion table can help estimate your equivalent IELTS band score based on your DET result. Refer to the data given below to understand the score comparison between the IELTS and Duolingo English Test. 

ielts vs duolingo: score comparison

IELTS Vs Duolingo: Best Universities and Score Requirement 2024

While both the IELTS and Duolingo English Test are recognized assessments for evaluating language skills, IELTS enjoys wider acceptance by universities worldwide. Some of the popular universities in the world that accept both exams are:

Name of University Ranking (QS 2024)DET Score Requirement IELTS Score Requirement 
Harvard University#41257.5
Stanford University #51107
University of Oxford #31207
University of Cambridge #21207
Massachusetts Institute of Technology #11207
University of California 1156.5
University of Toronto #211106.5
University of Sydney#191106.5
University of Edinburgh #221106.5

So that was all about IELTS vs Duolingo. Hope the blog has answered your queries regarding the topic. 

                                                              Related Blogs 
IELTS Syllabus & Section-Wise Exam PatternIELTS Marking Scheme IELTS Scoring System & GradingIELTS Sample Tests: PDF (Download), Exam Pattern
Duolingo Accepted Universities In the UKDuolingo Accepted Universities In the USADuolingo Accepted Universities in Ireland


Q1. What is a DET score of 120 equivalent in IELTS? 

Ans. A DET score of 120 equals to band score of 6.5-7.0 in the IELTS exam.

Q2. Is Duolingo harder than IELTS?

Ans. Duolingo is considered to be an easier test than IELTS. It focuses on basic language skills such as grammar and vocabulary and does not require a deep understanding of the language.

Q3. Which exam is easy IELTS or TOEFL or Duolingo?

It’s difficult to determine which English language proficiency test is easier as it depends on an individual’s language skills and familiarity with the test format. The IELTS and TOEFL are both standardized tests that assess an individual’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in English.

Visit the Leverage Live page of Leverage edu or contact our study abroad experts at 1800-57-2000 to strengthen your scores and application to secure your spot in your dream college. 

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