Duolingo

Duolingo vs IELTS: An in-depth comparison for language learning

By Edvoy• Last updated: Nov 8, 2023
Duolingo vs IELTS: An in-depth comparison for language learning
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Duolingo and IELTS are two popular language assessment methods used to evaluate a candidate's proficiency in a foreign language. 

Both tests measure your English proficiency but in different ways. 

Duolingo is an online language learning platform that offers a wide range of language courses, while IELTS is an international English language testing system. In this guide, we will provide an in-depth comparison of Duolingo vs IELTS. 

Duolingo vs IELTS Overview

DetailsDuolingoIELTS
Conducting bodyDuolingo, Inc.British Council and IDP IELTS
Purposeto help users learn a languageto assess the English language ability of non-native English speakers.
Formatcomputer-based testpaper-based and computer-delivered
StructureAdaptive Section & Video Interview SectionListening, Reading, Writing and Speaking Section
Duration45 minutes2 hours and 45 minutes
Scoringskill level ranges from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced)scale from 0 to 9
Fees$49$150 to $200
Validity periodUnlimitedtwo years
Difficulty levelEasier than IELTSDifficult than IELTS
Result declarationImmediately available13 days after the test
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Difference between IELTS and Duolingo

Duolingo and IELTS are two popular language learning tools. Duolingo is an online language learning platform that offers a wide range of language courses, while IELTS is an international English language testing system. While they both offer effective ways to learn English, they differ in a few key aspects.

Conducting body

Duolingo is developed and administered by Duolingo, Inc., a private language-learning company. IELTS is developed, managed, and administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Purpose

Duolingo is an online language learning platform that provides users with a variety of language courses. The primary purpose of Duolingo is to help users learn a language. It offers a series of exercises, games, and tests to help language learners improve their language skills.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a language proficiency test used to assess the English language ability of non-native English speakers. The test is used to evaluate English language proficiency for academic, professional, and immigration purposes.

Format

Duolingo is a computer-based test that is taken online. It consists of a series of multiple-choice questions that test reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills. 

The test is adaptive, which means that it adjusts to the user's level of proficiency. IELTS is an academic English proficiency test that is available in two formats: paper-based and computer-delivered. It is administered primarily in-person at an official test centre. 

It consists of four separate modules: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Listening, Reading, and Writing modules are completed in one sitting, while the speaking module is conducted separately.

Duration

The Duolingo test takes approximately 45 minutes and is usually taken online. The IELTS test takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes and is usually taken in a test centre. The Academic version consists of 4 sections, while the General Training version consists of 3 sections.

Duration

The Duolingo test takes approximately 45 minutes and is usually taken online. The IELTS test takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes and is usually taken in a test centre. The Academic version consists of 4 sections, while the General Training version consists of 3 sections.

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Scoring

Duolingo does not assign a numerical score to its users but instead assigns a "skill level" based on the correct number of questions they answer. The skill level ranges from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). The IELTS test is scored on a scale from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Each of the four parts is scored separately, and the overall score is an average of the four.

Fees

Duolingo is a relatively cheap test with a fee of around $49. The IELTS exam comes with a fee. The exam costs vary depending on the country, ranging from $150 to $250.

Eligibility criteria

There are no eligibility criteria for Duolingo. Therefore, anybody interested in learning a language can sign up and start learning with Duolingo. The IELTS is aimed at students, professionals and immigrants who need to prove their English language proficiency. To take the IELTS exam, the candidate must be at least 16 years of age, and have a valid passport or national ID card.

Validity period

Duolingo does not have a validity period and can be used for as long as the user wishes to IELTS scores are valid for two years from the date of the exam.

Difficulty level

Duolingo is considered to be an easier test than IELTS. This is because it focuses on basic language skills such as grammar and vocabulary and does not require a deep understanding of the language. IELTS is more difficult and requires a more in-depth understanding of the language. It assesses a candidate's ability to read, write, listen, and speak in English.

Result declaration

Duolingo results are available immediately after the test is completed. A score is provided, although it is not comparable to any other proficiency tests. IELTS results are declared 13 days after the test and are available online. The scores are comparable to other language tests and provide a more accurate measure of language proficiency.

Watch our IELTS Lessons Playlist on YouTube. Our expert instructor covers all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

Duolingo vs IELTS: Format of the exam

1. Format of Duolingo

The Duolingo test consists of two sections: Adaptive Section & Video Interview Section.

  • Adaptive Section: It consists of multiple-choice questions that adjust difficulty based on the user's ability level. The questions in this section cover topics such as grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
  • Video Interview Section: It requires candidates to record short video responses to prompt questions in the target language.
SectionsQuestionsDuration
Adaptive Sectionmultiple-choice questions on grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension45 Minutes
Video Interview Sectionrecord short video responses to prompt questions10 Minutes

2. Format of IELTS

IELTS has two versions: Academic and General Training

  • The Academic version is intended for those who want to study at the tertiary level in an English-speaking country or for those seeking professional registration. 
  • The General Training version is for those who want to migrate to an English-speaking country, and it focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

There are four sections in each of the two versions of IELTS:

  1. Listening: This section consists of 4 sections, each with 10 questions. The candidate will listen to 4 recordings and answer the corresponding questions.
  2. Reading: This section consists of 3 sections, each with a variety of question types. The candidate will read 3 passages and answer the corresponding questions.
  3. Writing: This section consists of 2 tasks. The candidate will be required to write a 150-word and 250-word essay.
  4. Speaking: This section consists of a one-on-one interview with an examiner. The candidate will be asked questions about themselves and their opinions on a given topic.
SectionsQuestionsDuration
Listening4030 Minutes
Reading4060 Minutes
Writing260 Minutes
Speaking211 to 14 Minutes

IELTS vs Duolingo: Proficiency level

Both IELTS and Duolingo assess language proficiency but are geared towards different purposes and audiences.

1. IELTS Proficiency Level

ProficiencyIELTS Score
Expert9
Very Good8.5
Very Good8
Good7.5
Good7
Competent6.5
Competent6
Modest5.5
Modest5
Limited4.5
Limited4
Extremely Limited3.5
Extremely Limited3
Intermittent2.5
Intermittent2
Non-user1.5
Non-user1
Non-user0.5
Non-user0

2. Duolingo Proficiency Level

ProficiencyDET ScoreExplanation
Basic10-55Demonstrates a basic understanding of the English language and an ability to express yourself in a familiar context
Intermediate60-85Getting this score means that you would be able to accomplish routine tasks at work and school in English.
Upper-Intermediate90-115This means that you can speak about unfamiliar topics in English and understand abstract ideas.
Advanced125-160Getting this score means that you would be an advanced student with an excellent command over the English language in any situation.
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IELTS vs Duolingo score comparison

Each section of IELTS is scored on a scale from 0 to 9, and the overall band score is the average of these four scores. Duolingo, on the other hand, provides a proficiency score in the form of a number (ranging from 0 to 170) called the Duolingo English Test (DET) score. Here is the table showing IELTS vs Duolingo score comparison:

DuolingoIELTS
1608.5-9
155 1508
145 1407.5
135 1307
125 1206.5
115 110 1056
100 955.5
90 85 805
75 70 654.5
10-600 - 4

Both the IELTS and the Duolingo English Test are widely recognized assessments used by universities worldwide to evaluate language skills. Some of the popular universities in the world that accept both exams are:

UniversityIELTS Score RequirementDuolingo Score Requirement
Harvard University7.5125
Stanford University7.0110
University of Oxford7.0120
University of Cambridge7.0120
Massachusetts Institute of Technology7.0120
University of California, Berkeley6.5115
University of Toronto6.5110
University of Sydney6.515
University of Edinburgh6.5110
University of Hong Kong6.5110

Conclusion

Duolingo and IELTS are both great options for those looking to improve their English language skills. While Duolingo is a great platform for those looking to learn the basics of English, IELTS is a more comprehensive option for those who want to take their English language skills to a more advanced level. Ultimately, the choice of which to use will depend on the individual's goals, available time, and determination.

Frequently asked questions

What is Duolingo English Test?

The Duolingo English Test is an online English proficiency test that assesses a person's reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. It's often used as an alternative to traditional language tests like TOEFL or IELTS.

Duolingo English test vs iIELTS, which is better?

The choice between IELTS and Duolingo depends on your specific goals and preferences. IELTS is a widely recognized and established test for academic and immigration purposes, while Duolingo offers flexibility and convenience.

Who conducts the Duolingo and IELTS tests?

Duolingo is developed and administered by Duolingo, Inc., a private language-learning company. IELTS is developed, managed, and administered by the British Council and IDP IELTS.

Which test is easier, the Duolingo or IELTS test?

Duolingo is considered to be an easier test than IELTS. It focuses on basic language skills such as grammar and vocabulary and does not require a deep understanding of the language. On the other hand, IELTS requires a more in-depth knowledge of the language.

Is Duolingo accepted in the USA?

Yes, many educational institutions and organizations in the USA accept the Duolingo English Test as a valid measure of English proficiency for admissions and other purposes.

Is Duolingo valid for IELTS?

Duolingo and IELTS are separate tests with their own validity. Duolingo's test can be accepted by some institutions as an alternative to IELTS, but it's essential to check the specific requirements of the organization you're applying to.

What is a 125 Duolingo score equivalent to in IELTS?

A Duolingo score of 125 is approximately equivalent to an IELTS band score of 6.5.

What is the scoring pattern of the Duolingo and IELTS tests?

Duolingo does not assign a numerical score to its users but instead assigns a "skill level" based on the correct number of questions they answer. The skill level ranges from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). The IELTS test is scored on a scale from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Each of the four parts is scored separately, and the overall score is an average of the four.

What is the fee for the Duolingo and IELTS tests?

Duolingo is a relatively cheap test with a fee of around $49. The exam costs vary depending on the country, ranging from $150 to $250.

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