IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo - Which Exam to Take for Study Abroad?

By Samarpita Goswami Updated On - Mar 04, 2022 05:47 PM

Proving your English language proficiency is one of the fundamental criteria to study in an English-speaking country. In this article, let us find out which among the IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo and PTE you should take. 

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The dilemma over which English proficiency test to take persists in the minds of every non-native English speaker who wants to study abroad. Normally, you have to take an English language test required by the universities you are applying to along with the immigration departments, future employers and professional bodies. 

Well, when you talk about proving your English proficiency, four popular exams come into the picture. These include the IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo and PTE Academic, all of which are widely accepted tests across the world for admissions of international students. But, which English proficiency test is ideal for you? 

While TOEFL and IELTS have been long-time players in the market, PTE and Duolingo are comparatively new but are gradually gaining popularity. Here, you will discover the benefits and disadvantages of each of these English proficiency tests and find out which among them is the best, easiest and most convenient for you.

Keeping in mind the schedule of each student, our experts offer flexibility to meet every student's requirements and goals. Students can even avail extra tutoring and expert strategies for improving their test scores. Know More!

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International English Language Testing System or the IELTS is one of the most widely recognised English language tests in universities across the globe. The test began its journey in the year 1989. It is conducted by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. Universities across the world trust IELTS scores for admission to both Bachelor's and Master's programs abroad. Universities all over the UK, USA, Canada, and  New Zealand accept the scores of IELTS. The examination is generally conducted offline but now it is available in online mode as well and the IELTS Speaking section of the examination happens face-to-face, either in person or in a video conference. The test lasts for 2 hours 45 mins and is conducted over a period of 2 days. IELTS Listening, Writing, and Reading are held on one day and the speaking skills are tested on the other day. The cost of the test is around 149 USD. 


The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is the forerunner of all English tests, with it being the first to be introduced in 1964 to test English language proficiency. TOEFL is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service). Most universities in the USA among over 10,000 universities across 130 countries accept TOEFL scores. It gives stiff competition to IELTS. The TOEFL is conducted on an internet-based test or paper-delivered test where the internet-based test is unavailable. The test takes one working day and is conducted in a single sitting of 3 hours 15 minutes. The cost of the test is USD 185. TOEFL, like IELTS, also consists of 4 sections- Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. 

About PTE

Pearson Test of English or PTE is newer than the above two but is still considered an important English proficiency examination that serves as the passport to study abroad. The examination is conducted by the Pearson PLC group and was introduced in 2009. The PTE examination is comparatively recent and is accepted by universities in the UK, USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. Unlike the other two tests, PTE is only available in online mode. The speaking and writing sections are clubbed together. Apart from this section, there is also a reading and listening section on the basis of which a candidate is tested. The three types of PTE tests are PTE Academic, PTE Academic UKVI, and PTE Home. The duration of the examination is 2 hours 15 minutes. It costs around USD 170 and is comparatively cheaper than the TOEFL.

About Duolingo English Test 

The Duolingo English Test (DET) has been newly added to the list of tests that measure English proficiency, with it having started its journey in 2011. Though students are taking this test, it is yet to achieve a nod from most of the universities in the world. It also serves as a website and mobile application where you can learn languages very easily. Some countries which have started accepting DET scores are the USA, UK, China, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Thailand, Qatar, etc. The cost of the Duolingo test is USD 49 which makes it the cheapest English proficiency test which takes only 60 minutes to complete. The advantage of the Duolingo test is that you can take it when and wherever you are comfortable. Besides the conventional sections, Duolingo also includes a video conference interview. The result takes up to 2 days to come out.

Also ReadWhy TOEFL May be a Better Option Than IELTS

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo: A Detailed Comparison

In this table, we have done a thorough comparison between IELTS, TOEFL, PTE and Duolingo English Test:





Duolingo English Test

Mode of examination

Online & Offline

Online & Offline




164 minutes

206 minutes

135 minutes

45 minutes

Examination Fees





Number of Sections






Reading, Speaking, Listening & Writing

Reading, Speaking, Listening & Writing

Speaking and writing; Listening; and Reading

Adaptive section (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and video conference interview

Result Declaration

3-5 days (online examination)

13 days (offline examination)

8 days

2 days or 48 hours

48 hours

Scoring Range

Band (0-9)

Score (0-120) 

Score (10-90)

Score (10-160)

Score Comparison Chart of IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo

Here, we have done a comparison of the scores of each exam among the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE and Duolingo English Test: 




PTE Academic

Duolingo English Test






Very Good

























Extremely Limited





IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo: Which is Better?

The four English proficiency tests are widely accepted throughout the world by different renowned institutions. Hence, you can take any one of them. However, you should keep in mind a few things before making the final decision. Find out which may be better for you.

  • The TOEFL and IELTS are older tests and are accepted widely all over the world. In comparison, Duolingo and PTE are the newer ones and may not be accepted everywhere. So, it is recommended that you check with the university first and understand their English proficiency requirements before deciding which test you should attempt.

  • The Duolingo test does not burn a hole in your pocket. It is cost-effective as compared to the other three tests.

  • The IELTS is preferred in those countries where British English is spoken.

  • In India, if you want to give a written English proficiency test, then the IELTS might be the best option for you.

  • TOEFL, PTE Academic, and DET examinations are conducted on the same day, whereas, the IELTS takes two days. It may be an inconvenience to prepare for an exam for two days.

  • TOEFL is the most-preferred English proficiency test in the USA and Canada.

  • The time duration of TOEFL is the longest of all making it a hectic examination experience.

  • Duolingo and PTE Academic tests are fully machine-based.

  • The speaking test in PTE is conducted in online mode and there are chances that your accent could become heavy, leading to you getting low scores on the test.

  • It is difficult to understand the lectures of PTE as the real lectures in English are used.

Also ReadBenefits of Taking the Duolingo English Test

If you are still in doubt about which English proficiency examination you should take to study abroad, you can contact our experts and get to know in detail about the four examinations. Know More!

Find Out How to Get the Perfect Score on Your English Proficiency Test! 

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