Comparing Duolingo vs IELTS: Which Language Test Is Right for You

Duolingo vs IELTS Which English Language Test is Right for You

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Duolingo vs IELTS English Test


Choosing the right English language test is critical for individuals seeking to study, work, or immigrate to English-speaking countries. Duolingo is considered one of the easiest English proficiency tests, while IELTS is the most accepted English proficiency test. This puts many students in confusion in choosing between Duolingo vs IELTS would be best for them. 

Therefore, in this blog, we will delve into comparing two prominent options: Duolingo English Test and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Both tests have their merits, but understanding the difference between Duolingo and IELTS is essential to make an informed choice. So, let’s begin with the blog!  

Difference Between IELTS and Duolingo

Two prominent language study tools are Duolingo and IELTS. Duolingo is a language learning platform that provides a variety of language courses online, whereas IELTS is an international English language assessment system. While they both provide efficient methods for learning English, they differ in a few essential areas. In the table below, let’s know the difference between both tests. 

Basis of Difference


IELTS Duolingo

Conducted By

Administered by the British Council, IDP

Administered by Duolingo, Inc.


Online and Offline Both

Only Offline


Pen-paper based and on-computer

On computer only


It is specifically used for academic, professional, and immigration purposes.

The primary purpose of Duolingo is to help users learn a language.


It consists of four separate sections, i.e., reading, listening, writing, and speaking. 

It consists of a series of multiple-choice questions that test reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills. 


The IELTS test is scored on a scale from 0 to 9

It asses on the ‘skill level’ ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). 

Duration of the Test

It usually takes 45 mins

It lasts for about 2 hours 45 minutes


Have wider acceptance

Only a few universities accept


Around 49 USD

Around 150 USD to 250 USD, depending on the country

Result Declaration

Results of pen-paper based are available in 13 days, and for computer-based, it takes around 5 days. 

Results are available immediately after the test is completed.

Duolingo Vs IELTS: Format of the Exam

The Duolingo test assesses students' ability based on four skills, including reading, listening, speaking, and writing, through a single test. On the other hand, the IELTS assesses all four skills, i.e. reading, listening, speaking, and writing, separately. So, let’s compare the format of both the test below. 


IELTS Vs Duolingo: Writing Section

The IELTS writing portion consists of two tasks. For the first task, candidates must either summarise or explain a graph, figure, or table in their own words. They may also be asked to describe and explain the data, the stages of a process, or a person or object. The task 2 requires you to write an essay responding to an argument, point of view, or problem. The responses must be mandatory and formal. 

On the other hand, in the Duolingo English Test, the candidate will be required to choose genuine English words from a list of pseudowords, fill in the missing text from a given sentence, write a minimum of 500 words in response to a given question, and type the statement after hearing the audio recording. 


IELTS Vs Duolingo: Reading Section

The second difference we observed between IELTS and Duolingo is in their reading sections. The reading component of the IELTS assesses a variety of skills, including reading for the main idea, reading for the gist, and interpreting logical arguments and opinions. 

In Academic Reading, the candidate must read three long texts from books, journals, periodicals, and newspapers, and then complete the tasks. The styles of these texts range from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. The texts in the General Training Reading are also drawn from advertising, announcements, company handbooks, and directives. While in the Duolingo English Test, candidates must read the sentences correctly and fill in the missing letters and words to make the text meaningful.


IELTS Vs Duolingo: Listening Section

Now, talking about the IELTS, candidates must listen to four recordings and answer a series of questions based on them. These recordings could be monologues or conversations.  This section may include tasks such as matching, MCQs, and sentence completion. 

On the contrary, in Duolingo, candidates must listen to a list of spoken words that includes both actual and pseudo-English terms and identify the correct English words. They will also be provided audio recordings that must be correctly transcribed. 


IELTS Vs Duolingo: Speaking Section

Another distinction between IELTS and Duolingo is in their speaking sections. The speaking component of the IELTS is broken into three assignments. Candidates are asked to answer broad questions about themselves, such as their family life and interests, in their first job. In the second task, the candidate is given a card with a topic on it, and they must talk about it. The examiner will ask the candidates questions based on their responses. The third assignment is a conversation round in which the examiner and the candidate discuss the issue in depth and focus on critical thinking and analysis abilities. 

Whereas in the Duolingo English Test, candidates will be shown an image and asked to explain it. They will also be expected to read aloud the phrases supplied to them. They must also verbally respond to any queries posed in this portion. Furthermore, the Duolingo English Test video interview component includes speaking about a specified topic and providing writing sample prompts. Candidates will be given a choice of two themes and must talk for at least 1-3 minutes. 

Duolingo Vs IELTS Score Comparison

The IELTS is graded using a band system. The bands range from 1 to 9, with your overall IELTS score being an average of your distinct exam scores in all four components. Your overall score will be rounded to the nearest half-band. In Duolingo, a test taker's proficiency is reported as a holistic score on a scale of 160 in 5 point increments. The table below shows the comparison between the Duolingo Vs IELTS scores.

IELTS Duolingo

































Best Universities Accepting IELTS and Duolingo Score

Here is a list of some of the best universities in the world that accept scores on both English proficiency tests. 

Country University IELTS Score Requirement Duolingo Score Requirement

United States

Harvard University



United States

Stanford University



United Kingdom

University of Oxford



United Kingdom

University of Cambridge



United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



United States

University of California, Berkeley




University of Toronto




University of Sydney



United Kingdom

University of Edinburgh



Hong Kong

University of Hong Kong



Duolingo Vs IELTS Which is Easy?

Comparing Duolingo and IELTS in terms of ease is a bit difficult. Duolingo offers a more relaxed and self-paced approach to language learning, making it accessible to learners of all levels. Its gamified format and user-friendly interface can make it feel less daunting than the structured nature of IELTS.

On the other hand, IELTS assesses your ability to use English for academic or immigration purposes, and its difficulty depends on your proficiency level. Achieving a high IELTS score can be challenging and requires specific test preparation.

Therefore, Duolingo is easier in the sense that it's a learning tool, while IELTS is a standardised test that can be challenging. However, the ease of either one depends on your individual goals and language proficiency. Duolingo can be a great stepping stone towards IELTS preparation, but the latter is a necessary step for official language assessment.


In the debate of Duolingo vs. IELTS, the choice ultimately depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Before making your decision, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of both tests and seek guidance from relevant authorities or educational advisors. Whichever test you choose, dedicated preparation and practice are key to your success in proving your English language proficiency and achieving your ambitions. 

So, if you are planning to appear for the IELTS exam and want to plan your test strategically, then we recommend you sign up for our IELTS Courses designed by our experts. If you need further guidance, please contact Prepare IELTS (PI) expert counsellors. Our team of education experts is dedicated to assisting you in the best possible way for the IELTS exam. You can also get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at or call us at +91 9773398388.


The decision between IELTS and Duolingo is based on your personal goals and interests; IELTS is a globally recognised and established test for academic and immigration purposes, while Duolingo provides flexibility and convenience.

Yes, the Duolingo English Test is accepted by many educational institutions and organisations in the United States as a valid assessment of English proficiency for admissions and other purposes.

A: Duolingo does not assign users a numerical score but rather a "skill level" based on the correct amount of questions they answer. The level of difficulty goes from A1 (beginning) to C2 (advanced). The IELTS exam is graded on a scale of 0 to 9, with 9 being the best possible score. Each of the four elements is assessed individually, and the overall score is the average of the four.

Yes, nearly 1,000 universities across the world recognise the Duolingo English test certificate.

IELTS is more commonly used for admissions than the Duolingo English Test (DET). However, as a result of the pandemic, the latter is gaining favour and approval among colleges.


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