Register for IELTS

IELTS vs. Duolingo - Differences Outlined

To study, work, or live abroad in an English-speaking country, you will have to take an English language proficiency test that will be submitted to your concerned institutions, employer, or other authorities. We understand that choosing which test to take can be very confusing as most universities accept multiple test scores, so, we have outlined differences between the two for you – IELTS and Duolingo.

What is IELTS?

The International English language testing system (IELTS) is the most popular English language proficiency test accepted by more than 11,500 institutions and organisations worldwide. This test is divided into four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. While Listening, Reading, and Writing tests are taken on the same day, you can choose your own slot for the Speaking test.

What is Duolingo?

The Duolingo English Test (DET) is a standardised test of English language proficiency developed by Duolingo. The test is taken entirely online and consists of multiple-choice questions in the areas of Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking.

Since not all institutions and organisations accept DET scores, it is important to check its acceptance with your institution or organisation before taking the test.

Details IELTS Duolingo
Conducting Body IDP IELTS Duolingo
Mode of Examination Online and offline Online
Exam fees
  • Computer-delivered IELTS: 16,250
  • Computer-delivered IELTS for UKVI: 16,500
  • Paper-based IELTS: INR 16,250
  • IELTS Life Skills (A1 and B1): 15,350
  • IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration: 16,500
$49 (INR 4000)
Duration of exam 2 hrs 45 mins 1 hr
Sections Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking Adaptive section (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking) and Video interview
Result declaration Computer-delivered: 3 to 5 working days and Paper-based: 13 days 48 hours
Scoring range Band score (0-9) Score (10-160)

IELTS vs. Duolingo – Format of the exam

Exam formats are the first point where IELTS and Duolingo vary. IELTS is offered in two formats – Academic and General Training. While the Listening and Reading sections of the IELTS exam are the same for all applicants with no gaps in between, the Speaking test, however, may be scheduled up to a week before or after the other tests. The IELTS test lasts a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The DET is an English proficiency test that measures the user's ability to understand and use English in real-life situations. Here is the format of the DET test:

  • Reading: The test begins with a reading section that consists of multiple-choice questions.
  • Listening: The listening section of the test measures the user's ability to understand spoken English.
  • Writing: The writing section of the test measures the user's ability to write in English.
  • Speaking: The speaking section of the test measures the user's ability to speak in English.

Test Format: IELTS vs DET

Although there are a few differences between both formats, the agenda remains the same. Both IELTS and DET will assess your Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking skills.

Format of IELTS

There is the format of the IELTS test questions:

Formats No. of Questions Duration
Listening  40 30 mins
Reading  40 60 mins
Writing  2 60 mins
Speaking  3 (divided into 3 parts) 11-14 mins

Format of Duolingo 

Here is the format of the Duolingo test questions:

Section Skilled tested Duration
Adaptive test (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking) Graded: Evaluates your Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking skills 45 mins
Video interview Upgraded: It records your answers to open-ended questions 10 mins

Score interpretation of IELTS

Each IELTS band symbolises a different proficiency level in the English Language. Here’s what each band means:

Band score Description
9 Expert
8.5 Very good
8 Very good
7.5 Good 
7 Good 
6.5 Competent 
6 Competent
5.5 Modest 
5 Modest 
4.5 Limited 
4 Extremely limited

Score interpretation of Duolingo

The Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening sections of the DET On a scale from 10 to 160. Here’s how each DET score is interpreted:

Score Description
10-55 Able to comprehend simple English words and phrases and can comprehend simple information and communicate in familiar situations
60-95 A candidate should be able to comprehend the themes of everyday life like- speaking on common topics, about their beliefs, plans, and experiences at a speaking interview.
100-125 Can speak clearly and understand concepts from unexpected topics, interact with competent speakers with ease, and comprehend the main concepts of both tangible and abstract writing
130-160 Can comprehend a range of challenging written and spoken language, including some situations requiring the use of specialised vocabulary.
Able to comprehend metaphorical, pragmatic, idiomatic, and implicit language and to adapt and use language well for professional, academic, and social goals

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Which is better – IELTS or Duolingo?
Can I take the Duolingo English Test instead of IELTS?

IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test which is accepted by universities for admission and has been conducting tests for more than 30 years. Duolingo is a new entrant in this industry.

Is Duolingo easier than IELTS?

This is a myth that Duolingo is easier than IELTS, both tests are designed to evaluate your English language proficiency and are made in their ways.

We hope, this blog will help you in understanding the difference between IELTS and Duolingo, so that you can choose the one which is the best according to you.

To know more about IELTS and to book your test date, get in touch with your nearest IELTS centre.