English testing options are changing. In the past, you had to take your exam in-person, at an official test center. Today, you can take your English proficiency test online. The Duolingo English Test is one popular way to certify your English skills without leaving home. It is growing in popularity as an essential resource for international students.
Additionally, many test centers have recently closed because of the global pandemic. But the Duolingo English Test has given international students a way to safely certify their English skills online. This means that they can continue preparing their college applications from home.
Keep reading to learn more about Duolingo and whether it’s the right choice for you.
How Is Online Testing Different From Traditional Testing?
Traditionally, English proficiency test-takers had to overcome certain obstacles in order to certify their skills. For example, you had to travel to your nearest test center. Some people had to travel an hour or more to find an approved facility to sit for their exams. Plus, you had to schedule your exam in advance. Each test center has a limited number of seats, so you had to reserve your spot. This meant planning in advance and being certain about your availability and readiness at that time. Sitting for exams was also stressful because test centers can be unfamiliar and distracting. Sometimes the computer equipment is different than what you’re used to at home.
Duolingo wanted to make the process easier as part of its mission to make education more accessible. Therefore, the Duolingo English Test was designed to help those who faced barriers with in-person testing. Online testing is often more convenient, more affordable, and faster for international students to complete (especially because it does not require as much planning and travel).
What Is the Duolingo English Test?
The Duolingo English Test might look different from other language proficiency tests that you have seen or taken in the past. First, it is a computer adaptive test (an online test). This means that you can take it in the comfort of your own home (remotely). Second, it allows test-takers to use their own computers.
Some highlights of the test include:
- You can take the test at home: There are no test centers and no appointments.
- There is a one-time cost of $49 USD (with unlimited score sharing).
- It can be completed in under one hour.
- You will receive your results in two days.
- There is an integrated writing and video sample (see below).
- You will have access to free, unlimited practice tests.
- It is reliable and secure; artificial intelligence (AI) helps to accurately score and certify your results.
About the writing sample and video interview: These are both valuable supplements for institutions and university admissions offices to review. The writing sample gives you a chance to better highlight your natural writing skills, and the interview offers a deeper sense of your conversational English. Both of these test components provide much more interesting information than a score alone!
How Can You Prepare for the Duolingo English Test?
For the best results on your exam, you should practice and prepare in advance. For example, you should make sure that you understand the rules of the test, get used to your testing environment, and explore some of the free practice exams that are available online.
Below are three bullets to help you get started in each of these areas:
1. Understand the rules of the test: Since the test is taken online, from your home, you must follow a unique set of rules in order to receive a certified result. Human proctors review each test session (with the help of AI) to uphold the integrity of your results.
Follow these guidelines during the test:
- Do not wear headphones
- Do not have anyone else in the room
- Do not use your phone or other devices
- Do not take notes
- Do not look away from the screen
2. Get used to your testing environment: There are a few things that you will need to provide before you take your test. It helps to have them ready in advance, so that you won’t have to cope with last-minute stress. Additionally, test-takers often do better on their exam if they are in a comfortable, familiar environment. If you take practice exams online, you should sit at the desk or table where you plan to take the real exam. Otherwise, you should spend some time in that area in advance to get used to the chair, the lighting, the technology, and other aspects of the testing environment.
To take the online Duolingo English Test, you must have:
- A government-issued photo ID
- A quiet, well-lit room
- About one hour of uninterrupted time
- A computer with a front-facing camera
- An internet connection and compatible browser
3. Take a free practice test: Become familiar with the format of the test and the types of questions asked. Keep in mind that the practice test is a shorter, unproctored version of the certified test. It provides an estimated score range.
For more information about the test experience, you can check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you have other questions, the “Help” button on the Duolingo website will connect you to a chat service or email support.
Who Accepts the Duolingo English Test?
Thousands of programs and academic institutions across the United States, Canada, and Europe use the Duolingo English Test.
Schools that accept Duolingo results include Duke, McGill, New York University (NYU), Yale, and University College London (UCL). You can find a full list of universities here. If you are applying to one or more schools that accept certified results from the Duolingo English Test, then you might want to consider taking the online test. For more information, visit the Duolingo site.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).