If I say, there is a testing option, easier than IELTS or TOEFL making its presence felt more than ever, you may be excited to know about it. The Duolingo English Test is an online exam which measures the English language proficiency of an individual for work or study purposes in overseas such as USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and other places (as of 2020). The test is heading into its fourth admission cycle and about half of US top Universities recognize it now. The year 2020 is witnessing a surge in the popularity of Duolingo English Test amid the current situation of COVID 19 pandemic. The traditional tests such as IELTS or TOEFL are interrupted at the places most affected by the pandemic and education providers across the word are turning to Duolingo English test as a standalone exam or supplementary along with other measures in place to assess the English language of students for admission. The convenience to take the test from the comfort of your home at your demand makes it a savior for students aspiring to study in overseas in the crises of global lockdown. Duolingo English Test is modern, fast and pocket saver. The cost of the test is $49 and the results are delivered in just 48 hours. Before you dive into it, I want to take you through the main points important for the success in the test.
Understanding the Test: Like IELTS and TOEFL, Doulingo tests all the fours skills of English language; Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing but it is disparate in all other facets. Duolingo English Test is adaptive which means the level of difficulty of a new question increases if your previous answer is correct and decreases if the answer is wrong. This enables Duolingo to evaluate your English proficiency in a short span of time. Doulingo English Test is a single exam of consisting of mixed questions. After attempting a reading question, you will have next a listening question. The questions are brief and short enough like a single sentence. You can finish the test anytime between 45 to 60 minutes and it is experienced that students proficient in English can finish in short duration. The test taker receives the holistic score from 10 – 160 and not the score for each language skill. The scores are valid for 2 years and can be sent to as many institutions completely free of cost from your result page. You can take two tests in a period of 30 days. It is worthy to mention that Duolingo English Test is general in nature and several companies in the USA use it to test the English skills of it new employees but it has proved its applicability in the academia across the globe now.
Understanding the format: - The test format is divided into three sections and might be entirely new to you. The first five minutes runs a test taker through the instructions and rules of the exam. The second section is major graded section of 45 minutes and includes questions such as listening to spoken words and selecting the real ones or typing out a statement that you hear. The reading questions include to completing the missing letters from a text. The speaking presents you to describe an image aloud, recording yourself saying a written sentence or verbally answering a spoken question. Your writing skill is assessed by putting written words for reviewing and selecting the real ones. You may have to describe an image in writing and respond in writing to a written question.
The third item includes a “video interview” section of the exam, in which you speak for 1-3 minutes on a topic you choose out of two choices. This is ungraded, but accompanies your test results you send to universities—which is a great addition helping you to express yourself more in terms of displaying your confidence and speaking skills.
General rules for the test: Since the test is computer based which you can take from your home, have certain rules in place. The first 5 minutes of the test runs you through the introduction and rules to follow while taking the Duolingo English Test.
There is a virtual proctor who assesses the recorded video of your test. You have to avoid using any notes, headphones and side talking. Take out your uninterrupted 60 minutes and make sure the room is well lit.
You need to be alone in the room and nobody else must be there or speaking to you. You must totally focus to the window screen during the whole time of the test. Your ears must be visible all the time.
The internet connection must be stable and preferable browser is chrome. The computer or laptop must be incorporated with a speaker and a micro phone.
As you are under invigilator and the test video is reviewed in every angle, it is important to follow the said instructions. If found any non-compliance of the rules, you will be asked to retake the test.
Institutions accepting Duolingo English Test in 2020: Initially being accepted by undergraduate Colleges and schools in USA, it has taken big strides in 2020 to find its name in the list of prerequisites for English meeting requirements in the institutions across the globe. The Universities and Colleges from Canada are using currently as a temporary replacement to IELTS or as a supplementary English test. A wave of Universities from the UK is accepting Duolingo English Test as a Standalone exam as institutions from Ireland look confident for the test. However not every institution is using it as an English assessment tool so you need check with your College or University before taking the Duolingo English Test. You can find out here if your institution does accept the Duolingo English Test.
Use of Duolingo English Test for the study visa: This has been a question of every student currently if the Duolingo English helps to get the study visa. There has been an official update from the Embassy of Ireland saying they accept Duolingo English Test as a temporary measure but student must provide the letter from the institution stating that it is satisfied with the Duolingo result of the student. If the Duolingo score is equivalent 6 bands in IELTS, there can be no visa interview but the lesser score means the student may be interviewed by the visa officer to verify the level of English. For UK and USA, Duolingo may not cause a problem in your visa as long as you have a chosen a good institution and meet other visa requirement. To process your study visa for Canada, the students have two options. Student direct stream (SDS) is a streamlined category boasting quick processing time and good acceptance rates but you require an IELTS score of minimum 6 in each language skill among other prerequisites to process your visa application. Duolingo English can help you to apply in the regular category (Non SDS).
All the best!
About the author: Asif Jalal is working as an advisor to students for overseas education for the past 5 years. He is credited with having placed hundreds of students in different parts of the world. Besides, he is an aspiring writer who relishes writing blogs and poetry.