Duolingo English Test Pattern

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Sristy Sharma
Jun 18, 2022 11:55 AM IST

Duolingo English Test Exam Pattern

The Duolingo English Test is a 1-hour online test, designed to analyze the English language proficiency of a candidate in all aspects i.e. Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing. The questions are framed in such a way that it also determines the critical thinking and adaptability abilities of a person.

Unlike other English Proficiency Tests, a Duolingo English Test is conducted in one go. The 60 minutes test is broadly divided into two sections i.e Adaptive Test and Video Interview. The first part lasts for 45 minutes and the second part for another 10 minutes. The first 5 minutes is an introductory part that helps candidates go through the quick setup of the test and lets them understand the rules and requirements of the test.

The Duolingo English Test exam pattern is different from other English Language tests that are taken at the test centers. As the Duolingo English Test is taken at home it is designed using advanced technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics to ensure the reliability of the test. 

The most important thing is to ensure that all the rules and regulations are followed. As for the real test as far as fluency and knowledge are good the test shall be scored well. Ensure to wait until the test gets uploaded before leaving the test app.

Find out detailed section-wise Duolingo English Test exam pattern here.

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DET Exam Pattern Highlights

The general functionality of a Duolingo English Test (DET) has been summarised here:

Test Name

Duolingo English Test





Types of Questions

Objective + Descriptive


60 minutes

Time Distribution

Introduction & Onboarding - 5 minutes

Graded Adaptive Test - 45 minutes

Ungraded Video and Writing Sample - 10 minutes

Duolingo English Test - Adaptive Test

The Adaptive Test Section is a graded section of the Duolingo English Test. This section is designed to evaluate the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of the test takers. Applicants are given 45 minutes to complete the Adaptive Test section of the DET 2022. The test provider has allocated separate scores for each section, including the Adaptive Section. Before attempting questions, make sure your device's speaker and microphone are working properly. It must be tested before attempting the Adaptive Test section. Also, all the rules and regulations of the Duolingo English Test must be followed, or else you may be disqualified from the test.

Highlights of Duolingo English Test - Adaptive Test

  • Changing Difficulty - The questions in the Duolingo English test adapt to the answers that have been entered by the candidate. The AI embedded in the format learns about the level of competency from the pattern and manner of the answers punched in, and the subsequent questions' difficulty level is set to change dynamically throughout the test on this basis.

  • Large Pool of Questions - Since the questions are automatically generated by the grading system implemented by Duolingo, the system chooses from a large pool of questions, thus minimizing the chances of a question being repeated. Duolingo claims that one in a thousand tests will see a question repeated, thus ensuring that each candidate applying for the test will have a unique experience.

  • Adaptive Section Length - While the test lasts for an hour, the number of questions is not limited or defined. The Grading engine will end the test when it is confident in the score secured by the candidate.

  • Single Section - Duolingo is currently the only test that holds one section with varying questions that are graded. In other words, different questions will be asked one after the other irrespective of their type or the section it belongs to.

Duolingo English Test - Video Interview

The video interview is a separate section of the Duolingo English Test and is a 10-minute duration test. In this section, the test taker will have to record their answers to open-ended questions. Following are some of the pointers that you must consider while recording your answer:

  • Make sure you are at the center of the camera frame.

  • You must be audible.

  • The selection panel of the institutions may view your recording. So make sure that you are confident and clear.

In this section, you may be asked to: 

  • Describe an image;

  • Speak on a given situation;

  • Choose a topic to speak about for a few minutes.

How the Duolingo English Test is Set Up

Each candidate applying and appearing for the test will be introduced to the test and the different guidelines right before the test begins. Commonly, the tests are divided into three parts, i.e. the Introduction and Onboarding, Graded Computer Adaptive Test, and the Ungraded Video and Writing Sample. Outlined below is how the Duolingo English Test is set up.

1. Introduction and Onboarding

Each candidate will be offered 5 minutes at the start of the test where they will be asked to:

  • Check and ensure that their Laptop/Computer, camera, speakers, and microphone are in good operating condition.

  • They will then be asked to display or provide their Government-issued ID card.

  • Finally, all candidates will be asked to go through the guidelines and regulations outlined by Duolingo for the test.

2. Graded Adaptive Test

For the next 45 minutes, candidates will be asked to attempt the questions that have been displayed on the screen within the given timeline. The Graded computer adaptive test has been designed to:

  • Analyze the English Skills or proficiency of the candidate attempting the test through the short questions.

  • Being adaptive, the questions will be asked in random order.

  • Additionally, the questions will change in difficulty based on the performance of the candidate.

3. Ungraded Video and Writing Sample

In the last 10 minutes of the Duolingo English Test, candidates will be asked to answer one of the two questions, selected randomly from a pool of hundreds of different questions.

  • Candidates will be offered 30 seconds to choose between the two to answer in the next 10 minutes.

  • They will be given 1-3 minutes to attempt the video-speaking sample. Meanwhile, 3-5 minutes will be allocated for the writing sample.

  • All candidates will be given time to review their video samples and write sample answers before submitting the same to the institutions.

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Duolingo English Test Graded Section - Types of Questions

Here is a table summarising the highlights of each question type under the Duolingo graded section:

Question Type


Time Limit (minutes/seconds)

Read & Complete

Literacy, Comprehension

3 min

Read & Select

Literacy, Comprehension

1 min

Listen & Select

Comprehension, Conversation

1.5 min

Listen & Type

Comprehension, Conversation

1 min

Read Aloud

Comprehension, Conversation

20 sec

Writing About the Photo

Production, Literacy

1 min

Speak About the Photo

Production, Conversation

0.5-1.5 min

Read & Write

Production, Literacy

5 min

Read & Speak

Conversation, Production

0.5-1.5 min

Listen & Speak

Conversation, Production

0.5-1.5 min

  • Read and Complete: Here, a candidate will be asked to complete the words with the missing letters. Students will be given a passage, wherein, some words will have a few missing letters that they will have to fill in, using the context given in the passage. The timer for the question will appear on the screen as the question will appear.

  • Read and Select: As the name suggests, candidates will be asked to read the words that have been given and select those words that they think are actual English words.

  • Listen and Select: Similar to Read and Select, candidates will be given options to choose from what they think are actual English words, however, instead of reading the words, they will be listening to an audio to determine the right answer.

  • Listen and Type: This type of question will require candidates to listen to an audio which will speak a sentence in English. They will then be required to type out the sentence that they could comprehend through the audio.

  • Read Aloud: As the name suggests, candidates will be asked to read a sentence that will be displayed on the screen and they speak it out loud into the microphone.

  • Writing About the Photo: Here, the question will require the candidates to describe the picture that has been given in the question, in one or more sentences.

  • Speak About the Photo: Candidates will be asked to speak about the image provided in the question instead of writing about it like in the above type of question. Here, the question and image will be displayed for 20 seconds before moving on to the recording screen. Candidates will also have the opportunity to manually advance.

  • Read and Write: Here, candidates will be given a written prompt, to which they will have to answer in 50 words or more. However, candidates will not have an option in terms of the prompt they receive.

  • Read and Speak: Like above, candidates will read a written prompt and provide/speak their answer for at least 30 seconds. The directions for the question will appear 20 seconds before the timer starts.

  • Listen and Speak: Similar to the question type above, here, candidates will have to listen to the spoken prompt and speak out their answer to the prompt. Candidates will be given 20 seconds to listen and replay the question before they are automatically transferred to the recording screen.

Duolingo English Test Ungraded Section - Types of Questions

Here is a table summarising the highlights of each question type under the Duolingo ungraded section:

Ungraded Samples

Time Limit (minutes/seconds)

Speaking Sample

1-3 min + 30 sec

Writing Sample

3-5 min + 30 sec

Speaking Sample

The speaking sample of the ungraded section under the Duolingo English Test will require candidates to have selected one of the two prompts that have been displayed on the screen. Candidates are required to speak for 1 to 3 minutes on one of the topics at length. It should be noted that the directions will appear for 30 seconds before the recording starts, therefore, candidates are advised to read, consider and select one of the two choices given.

Writing Sample

Candidates will be given 3-5 minutes to write about any one of the two written prompts. They will be asked to write at length about either of the two topics. Candidates will be given 30 seconds to choose between the two topics for you to write.

Duolingo English Test - Adaptive Section Scoring System

In the Duolingo English Test, the Adaptive Test is the only graded section, where the answers entered by the applicant will be evaluated and scored. The different Question Types will be evaluated differently and scores will be allocated as per the answers given. Here is what you need to know about the Adaptive Section Scoring System.

  • For question types such as Read and Complete, Read and Select, Listen and Select, Listen and type and Read Aloud, the answers will be graded automatically using special systems/procedures developed particularly for the question types. As per Duolingo, the systems/procedures will compare the test-taker's responses with the correct responses and evaluate the differences and similarities.

  1. Additionally, students will not be penalized for entering an incorrect answer or an answer that is not entirely correct either. Candidates may even receive partial credit for the partially correct answer.

  2. However, candidates who miss out on answering a question may lose out on a score more than when they incorrectly answer a question. Therefore, candidates should answer a question.

  • For questions such as Write About the Photo, Speak About the Photo, Read and Write, Read and Speak and Listen and Speak, are open response questions, which will be evaluated by a grading system. The grading engine is trained to understand and evaluate a candidate’s English Proficiency like expert human raters. Some of the parameters that will be evaluated by the engine include:

  1. Grammatical Accuracy

  2. Grammatical Complexity

  3. Lexical Sophistication or the level of vocabulary used by a candidate

  4. Lexical Diversity or the variety of the word choice selected by the candidate

  5. Candidate’s ability to answer a question properly

  6. Their ability to write and speak fluently in English when answering a question.

  7. The pace and pronunciation of the candidate.

Note: Candidates must understand that the questions are evaluated and scored by computer algorithms, meanwhile, human proctors will evaluate the video recordings that they have submitted.

Duolingo Desktop Application

Duolingo English Test is administered through the Duolingo Desktop app. The test is also attempted through the same application and therefore it is recommended that it is downloaded by the candidates who wish to take this test. The app makes all the processes starting from registration to actual test attempting easier.

This app does not hog the desktop device at all, in fact, it takes up only 241MB of space on Mac and 49 MB on Windows.

In order to install the application following steps must be followed:

  • Browse for Duolingo Desktop App on your default browser.

  • Follow the official Duolingo site link.

  • Click on the button ‘Download for Mac/Windows as per your requirement.

  • Confirm the privacy policy and Terms and Conditions after reading them.

  • Once the Agreement is confirmed the app shall get downloaded and you may search for the file in the downloads section.

  • Click on Duolingo Zip in your Downloads.

  • Go to applications and click install.

  • In the configuration box provide information and permissions and click on Finish.

  • App will get installed.

Frequency of Questions Asked in the Duolingo English Test

As specified above, there is no specified or defined set of questions that will be asked by the system, however, there are a defined number of questions per question type that may be asked by the system to evaluate the student completely. Here is the frequency of questions that will be asked in the Duolingo English Test.

Type of Questions


Read and Select

3-7 Times or 6 on Average

Read and Complete

Listen and Type

Listen and Select

Read Aloud

Speak About the Photo


Write About the Photo


Read and Write


Read and Speak


Listen and Speak


Speaking Sample


Writing Sample


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FAQs on Duolingo English Test

Q. What type of questions are asked in the Duolingo English Test 2022?

A. A Duolingo English Test has questions from all the four parameters of an English Proficiency Test i.e Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Multiple choice questions are asked under two broad categories: Adaptive Test & Video Interview and Writing.

Q. Is the Duolingo English Test timed?

A. Yes. All Duolingo English Tests are timed. Both the sections of a Duolingo English Test have allocated time limits, including a 5-minute introduction to the test, introducing the candidate to the test, its regulations and guidelines, etc. 

Q. What does the session timeout prompt option in the Duolingo English Test mean?

A. The session timed-out message prompts indicate when the internet connection is slow due to which it takes a longer time to load the questions. In such a case, it is advisable to retake them with a stronger internet connection.

Q. What is the duration of the Duolingo English Test? 

A. Duolingo English Test lasts for 1 hour. Each question must be answered within the defined time frame. The test is automatically submitted once the test duration is over.

Q. What is the level of difficulty of questions asked in the Duolingo English Test?

A. The level of difficulty of questions asked in the Duolingo English Test is easy to moderate, with each question becoming relatively difficult as candidates answer them. Different types of questions are asked under each category i.e Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Some questions may be tricky while others may be easy to answer. 

Also Read: 7 Tips to Choose the Best Universities to Study Bachelor's Degree Abroad

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