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Duolingo English Test vs. IELTS - A Guide

Updated on 08 September, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

ielts vs duolingo

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Duolingo English Test are two common English proficiency tests taken by people planning to migrate, work and study in an English-speaking country.  Both the tests assess test takers’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in English and are widely accepted. 

Duolingo English test vs. IELTS has been a topic of debate. There are many aspects to discuss in this debate like Duolingo English test scores vs. IELTS or Duolingo vs. IELTS which is better. The answers to these questions lie in a thorough comparison.

Comparison b/w IELTS and Duolingo Exam




Conducting AuthorityBritish Council and IDP IELTS.Duolingo
Examination ModeOffline/OnlineOnline
Examination Tenure165 minutes60 minutes
SectionsWriting, Listening, Reading, and SpeakingAdaptive Section (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking) and Video-based Interview
Declaration of Results3-5 days (Online) and 13 days (Offline)Within 48 hours
Range of ScoringScore Bands (0-9)Score Range (10-160)


Full Name

The first point of the Duolingo vs. IELTS debate is the full names of both examinations. They are the following- 

IELTS - International English Language Testing System

Duolingo - Duolingo English Test (DET). 

Conducting Body

Another point in the IELTS vs. Duolingo comparison pertains to the conducting body for both examinations. 

IELTS is owned jointly by the IDP, British Council, and Cambridge English. 

The Duolingo English Test (DET) is conducted by Duolingo. 

Frequency of Exams

IELTS is held multiple times throughout the year, and there is no limit to the number of attempts. Duolingo can be given anywhere and anytime upon registration and payment. 


IELTS has four sections, namely Reading (60 minutes), Listening (30 minutes), Speaking (11-14 minutes), and Writing (60 minutes). 

The Duolingo English Test is an adaptive examination (writing, reading, speaking, and listening) of 45 minutes. The video interview spans 10 minutes and is a section that is ungraded. 


IELTS- 2 hours and 45 minutes. 

DET- 45 minutes + 10 minutes (video interview). 

Exam mode 

IELTS- Offline and Online. 

DET- Online. 


IELTS- Acceptable for studying, working, or immigrating to countries with the native language is English. This includes nations like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others. 

DET- Accepted for working, studying, and migrating to English-speaking nations such as Canada, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Australia. 


IELTS- Minimum age of 16. 

DET- Passport/Driving License/Government ID with a well-lit room, reliable internet connectivity, and a computer.

Recommended Reads:

IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic

IELTS Last Minute Tips

IELTS Academic Reading

IELTS Speaking Test format

How IELTS Exam is Conducted

Indian Education System Essay

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

IELTS Academic Exam

IELTS General Writing Tips Task 2

MBA in Germany Without IELTS

How to Improve IELTS Score from 6.5 to 7

IELTS Speaking Tips

Download these guides to read Offline

Duolingo Syllabus
Duolingo test pattern

Exam Pattern 


  1. Listening- 40 questions- 30 minutes. 
  2. Reading- 40 questions- 60 minutes. 
  3. Writing- 2 questions- 60 minutes. 
  4. Speaking- 3 questions (division into 3 parts)- 11-14 minutes. 

Related Read: IELTS Exam Pattern 


  1. Adaptive Examination (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking)- 45 minutes. 
  2. Video Interview- 10 minutes.

Related Read: Duolingo English Test Pattern

Countries that accept these tests

IELTS is accepted at more than 10,000 institutions, schools, universities, employers, and immigration authorities across more than 140 countries. These include the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and more. The Duolingo English Test (DET) is steadily being accepted across several institutions in various nations. 

Application Process For both Exams 


  • You can register online at www.ieltsidpindia.com. 
  • Choose Register for IELTS
  • Choose the testing city and date. 
  • Complete the application form online. 
  • Pay the fees with a credit card. 
  • Get the confirmation on the screen and an email copy. 
  • You have to courier your passport photocopy and observation pages (if any) to the IDP Head Office.

You can also register physically at an IDP branch or nearest node. You can also register via courier while paying the test fees via ICICI/HDFC deposits or demand drafts. 

Duolingo English Test

  • Create your account at the official site, providing your age, email ID, password, and more. 
  • You will have to choose from a list with options like undergraduate university admissionmiddle or high school admissionsgraduate admissionsschool buildingnone of the aboveapplying for a job or promotion, and so on. 
  • Click on Create Account
  • Choose Try the Test or Purchase the Test or Take the Test. The first option will help you take smaller 15-minute tests. The second is for buying the test and taking the same at home (within 90 days). The third is for instantly giving the test. 
  • Go to the page for checkout, and pay the fees via credit cards or PayPal.

Read More: Duolingo English Test Registration

Documents Required

You will have to carry your Government/national ID or passport on the day of your IELTS examination. 

The DET also requires a Government ID, like a passport or driving license. 

Read More: Documents Required for IELTS Exam

Exam Curriculum/Syllabus briefly 


The IELTS listening section has four recordings with several questions to be answered by candidates. These could be conversations or monologues. Tasks may include completing sentences, MCQs, matching, and so on. In the DET, you will have to listen to spoken words with wrong/actual ones in English, and you will have to choose the right ones. They will also get audio recordings which require suitable transcription. 

Recommended Read: IELTS Listening Band Score


Duolingo has candidates choosing proper English words from amongst pseudo ones while filling out missing texts from sentences, and writing at least 500 words in response to a question that is given. They have to type their statement after hearing the recording alongside. In IELTS, the writing section has two tasks, namely a summary of a diagram, graph, or table, while explaining the same in words, and also writing an essay as a response to any argument, problem, or viewpoint. 

Recommended Reads: IELTS Writing Task 1 || IELTS Writing Task 2


IELTS has several tests where candidates read long texts from journals, books, newspapers, magazines, etc. They have to demonstrate skills like reading for the core idea, gist, and also logical viewpoints/arguments. The DET requires candidates to suitably read all sentences while filling up missing words and letters for making these sentences more logical.

Recommended Read: IELTS Reading Section


The IELTS speaking section comprises three assignments. The first one requires candidates to answer questions about their family, interests, and themselves. The second one has candidates getting cards with topics on which they need to speak. The third task is in the form of a discussion. 

The DET requires aspirants to read sentences aloud while answering questions verbally in the section. The video interview has them speaking on any topic and submitting sample prompts in writing. They can choose from two topics and speak on their preferred topic for a minimum of 1-3 minutes. 

Preparation Tips 


  1. Complete as many practice tests as possible. 
  2. Build up your vocabulary and grammatical skills. 
  3. Practice speaking into a mirror or in front of someone. 
  4. Diversify your reading and knowledge-gathering sources. 
  5. Engage in daily conversations in English at home. 

Related Reads: How to Prepare for IELTS at Home Without Coaching || How to prepare for IELTS at Home


  1. Take a practice or sample test. 
  2. You should understand the types of questions. 
  3. Learn about the CAT (computer adaptive testing) system. 
  4. Practice speaking exercises for Duolingo. 
  5. Take practice tests as much as possible.


Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better - Duolingo vs. IELTS?

Both examinations are good in their respective ways. IELTS is more preferred and accepted worldwide, although DET is also gaining ground in recent times, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the difference between Duolingo and IELTS?

Duolingo is completely computer-based, while the IELTS is either paper or computer-based. The former requires just 45 minutes, while the latter requires 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Can I take the Duolingo test instead of the IELTS?

IELTS is more popular for admissions as compared to the Duolingo English Test (DET). The latter is, however, gaining more popularity and acceptance amongst universities due to the pandemic.

Is Duolingo easier than IELTS?

The Duolingo test has near-similar difficulty levels as the IELTS. The two tests are different in terms of their formats, structures, and other aspects. It all depends on your preparation and how well you practice before the examination.

Important IELTS Exam Resources

IELTS Exam Overview

IELTS is required to be taken by international students and workers who wish to study or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. Know the complete details.

IELTS Online Test

IELTS Exam Syllabus

With the right knowledge of the IELTS exam syllabus and pattern, cracking the popular English test won’t be difficult.

IELTS Syllabus

IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS exam pattern encompasses four major sections, i.e. listening, speaking, writing, and reading.

IELTS Exam Pattern

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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