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Duolingo Writing Test

Updated on 05 January, 2024

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

What is Duolingo Writing Test?

The Duolingo writing test, or DET, is the digital, high-stakes English language proficiency test that utilizes a computer-adaptive test format. DET evaluates all four aspects of an individual's English proficiency, including listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The test is designed to offer today's international students and institutions an English proficiency score, writing sample, and video interview in an accessible, secure, and efficient testing experience. The Duolingo writing sample is the last part of the test in which a candidate must respond to a written prompt within three to five minutes. It is scored using the same method as other open response writing, such as the Read, then Write question type.

Pattern, Number of Questions, and Scoring

Let us first discuss the Duolingo writing template and exam pattern. Due to the adaptive nature of the Duolingo test, the test continually gets more difficult as the number of correct answers increases. 

Exam Pattern

The test contains two sections:

Adaptive Test - Graded Portion (45 minutes)

The adaptive Duolingo writing format test measures the English language on different aspects, including:

  • Image description
  • Filling in missing letters from a text section
  • Transcribing the statement candidates hear
  • Differentiating real from fake English words

Video Interview - Ungraded Portion (10 minutes)

A video interview is then conducted with the candidates where they can speak on either topic, and the same process is followed for writing. Scores are given within two days of completing the exam on a scale of 10-160. Schools that accept Duolingo scores benefit from the opportunity to look at the student's video interview, writing sample, and score comprehensively.

Number of Questions

The number of questions in the Duolingo writing format is not specified or defined.

As for the results, candidates will receive their Duolingo results within 48 hours after completing the test. All universities will have access to the result online, so candidates can send it to them as many times as they like. A score of 10 to 160 is reported for the Duolingo English Test, and scores are in multiples of 5. Several test components evaluate the candidate’s proficiency with a unique scoring system. 


Duolingo scores of 110 and above are considered good, and an excellent score is above 120. Comparing these scores to those obtained in IELTS, TOEFL, and the CEFR is particularly useful. An IELTS score of 7 is considered suitable, a TOEFL score of 86 is appropriate, and a CEFR score of B2 is considered ideal. Despite the leniency of many universities regarding TOEFL and IELTS scores, Duolingo requires a minimum score of 110.

Duolingo English Test Writing Sample Questions and Types

As per the Duolingo writing template, writing is evaluated through three subtasks: 

  • Write About the Photo
  • Read Then Write
  • Writing Samples 

The first task involves writing an image description, while the other two require writing responses to prompts.

Write About the Photo

Test-takers are asked to describe an image in writing in Write About the Photo section. The photographs can be black-and-white or in color and are generally sourced from open-source photographers. 

The photo that needs to be described is generally not from a specific category of images; it can be almost anything. However, one thing to note is that line drawings or clipart that look like cartoons are not given. A text entry box asks participants to describe the image.

Duolingo English Test: Tips for describing images

  • Candidates should begin by elucidating the picture quickly.
  • Next, describe the picture in a few sentences by highlighting its salient features.
  • Foregrounds and backgrounds must be carefully considered. Elaborate on the shades in the image.
  • Describe the image using judgments or predictions. For instance, if it appears to be a historic building, one might say that it appears to be very popular with the public. 
  • In the image, use adjectives to describe objects, people, or situations. For instance, a dense forest, a gushing river, a charismatic person, a renowned actor, etc.
  • Use appropriate punctuation and write at least three sentences.

Read Then Write

It takes up to five minutes for test-takers to complete the 'Read Then Write' task. They must write at least 50 words. Taking the test requires the entry of 50 words into the provided text box. Test-takers must address the following points in this section:

  • Describe, discuss, or explain
  • Recount past experiences
  • Make an argument

Sample 1

What would you do if you were required to join a club at school? What kind of clubs would you join? Athletic clubs, academic clubs, or volunteer groups? Please explain why.

The athletic club would be my first choice if I had to join a club as part of my school requirements. It would allow me to be a part of a group and do something of my interest. Second and more importantly, time management skills and becoming a team player are crucial skills that I’ll be cultivating as a part of the team.

Sample 2

Describe the teacher you admire most. How would you describe the qualities that you respected most?

Throughout my educational career, I have had many types of teachers. However, my high school history teacher was one of the best teachers I have ever had. He was extremely compassionate and would give students with difficulty in unit extra study sessions before tests. He would engage students and keep them hooked with intrigue. As part of his teaching style, he always included hands-on projects to help us understand the subject better.

Writing Samples

Duolingo's English Test includes a writing sample as the last part. Answering the two written prompts will take between three and five minutes. One of the two topics will require a lot of writing. To choose their essay topic, candidates will have 30 seconds.

Sample 1

Pollution and costs are reduced by public transportation when compared to private transportation. What is your favorite and why?

In my opinion, this assertion is entirely accurate. Compared to private transportation, public transportation is less expensive. It's something I use every day myself. The comfort and convenience of owning a personal vehicle cannot be denied, even though they reduce pollution compared to public transportation. The privilege and luxury of owning a private car cannot be overstated. A large group of people is undoubtedly better served by public transportation.

Sample 2

Describe your home.

I live on the ground floor of a three-storied apartment, with five flats on each floor. An extremely crowded street surrounds the building. I have lived in this flat my entire life and have met most of my friends in this building. This house and the little things I used to decorate it has given me some of the loveliest memories in my life.

Tips to take the writing test

  • Practice new vocabulary and learn new words
  • Listen attentively
  • Listen for American accents
  • Take 3-5 minutes to write about a topic every day
  • Make a 30-second speech on any topic of choice


A candidate should now have a better idea and understanding of the Duolingo writing format and test in detail. To crack this test, it is recommended that one pursue online courses offered by upGrad, which will surely help boost exam preparation.

Duolingo Writing Test- FAQ

Can a score of 125 on the Duolingo test be considered good?

The Duolingo English test score of 125 is a good one, and the score is equivalent to 7.5 on the IELTS.

Do Duolingo English Test questions have a high difficulty level?

Each candidate's level of difficulty varies on the Duolingo English Test. When correct answers are given, difficulty levels increase, and vice-versa. Due to its adaptive nature, the system randomly orders the questions.

What is the Duolingo Practice Test?

Duolingo Practice Test is a free test available on the official Duolingo website. As with the official Duolingo English Test, this test uses similar technology and questions. The Duolingo testing organization designed it to give students a realistic test experience.

What is the validity of the Duolingo English test?

There is a two-year validity period for Duolingo English Test results.

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.