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IELTS vs Duolingo: Which is Better for Indian Students

IELTS vs Duolingo: Which is Better for Indian Students

IELTS vs Duolingo: Which is Better for Indian Students?

Indian students who aspire to settle abroad or pursue higher education are looking for suitable language efficiency tests. Most of the time, the choice is locked between IELTS and Duolingo. Supposing you are an Indian student trying to chalk out the main differences between IELTS and Duolingo. In that case, we will try to solve your doubts in this blog.


Let’s start by familiarising ourselves with the basics of both tests for beginners.
If you wish to ask what it is IELTS?
IELTS, in short, stands for International English Language Testing System. It is basically designed to test your ability to use English via four major parameters.

There are two sub-types of IELTS: Academic for higher education and General Training for work migration-related purposes.

The main difference between Academic and General IELTS lies in the Reading and Writing sections.

While Academic IELTS reading passages and writing tasks are more difficult and require a higher academic vocabulary and knowledge.

General IELTS reading passages and writing tasks, on the other hand, are more general. They are designed to be understood by more number of candidates.

The Speaking and Listening sections are the same for both tests. They check your ability to communicate in everyday situations.
IELTS is run by IDP IELTS and the British Council in India. You can take it online or in person. It costs around ₹16250 as per the latest update.


Coming to Duolingo?

Duolingo is a popular language-learning app. It also offers an English test called the Duolingo English Test (DET). It is developed to check your ability to understand and use English in real situations. It has an adaptive section covering reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. It also has a video interview where you are supposed to answer open questions. The entire DET is done on your computer or phone. It costs around ₹4,000 and is more affordable than other language tests.


What are the differences between the formats of both tests?

  1. Duration of both tests

While IELTS is conducted online and in-person, Duolingo is limited to online mode only.

The overall duration of IELTS is 2 hours 45 minutes. It is further divided section-wise as:

  • Listening: 30 minutes
  • Reading: 60 minutes
  • Writing: 60 minutes
  • Speaking: 11-14 minutes

The duration for Duolingo is just 60 minutes

  • Adaptive Testing: 45 minutes
  • Video Interview: 10 minutes

As you can note, IELTS is longer and has a separate speaking test with an examiner. At the same time, Duolingo records your voice on video questions.
IELTS assesses a wider range of English language skills in more depth. The DET, on the other hand, is more focused on assessing general English proficiency.

  1. Sections within the tests
    IELTS grades the participant via four sections that are:
  2. Listening
  3. Reading,
  4. Writing
  5. Speaking

For Duolingo, it’s an Adaptive section and interview.


  1. Type of Questions

IELTS has set questions, while Duolingo adapts to your level, i.e. in Duolingo, the questions can change based on your answers through an adaptive system. This means that as you progress through the test, the difficulty level of the questions may adjust according to your performance. If you answer a question correctly, the next question may become slightly more challenging.


  1. Number of Questions
    While questions in IELTS are around 85, but differ according to the sub-section. They are as follows.
    Listening- 40, Reading- 40, Writing-2, Speaking-3.

The number of questions in DET generally varies between 50-70 for the Adaptive testing, and there may be around 10-12  more for the interview.

ELTS generally has a larger number of questions than the DET. This is because the IELTS is a more comprehensive English language proficiency test. The DET is designed to be a faster and more convenient way to assess English proficiency.


  1. Scoring Parameters and results declaration
    In the IELTS test, you are marked with a score between 0 and 9, with half-point increments. On the other hand, the Duolingo test gives you a score between 10 and 160, with 5-point increments. Both tests give you an overall score and show how you did in each skill.

Nevertheless, the IELTS test also gives you a report showing your performance in each sub-section. But the Duolingo test gives you a certificate with your photo, score, and a video interview.


The results for IELTS generally take longer than the Duolingo test. IELTS results are available in 3 to 5 working days for the online mode, while offline mode takes 13 days. But to our surprise, the Duolingo test results are available within 48 hours. Both tests let you send your scores to institutions or organisations for free. Still, IELTS limits you to five recipients, while Duolingo has no limit.


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  1. Acceptance Rates

The final game-changing factor between the two tests may come while looking at the general acceptance of both. IELTS is known for its popular appeal and acceptance across 11500 institutions spanning 140 countries. These include the most sought-after destinations like UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
While Duolingo is gaining momentum rapidly, it is currently accepted by around 3000 institutions and organisations in over 50 countries. Most of these are in the US, Canada, and Europe. If you are an Indian student needing help, look for a Canada Study visa immigration consultant in Delhi.


Both IELTS and Duolingo tests are good ways to show how well you know English. But there are some differences you should consider before deciding which one to take. The IELTS test is longer and more structured, and you get to talk to a real person for the speaking part. But it costs more, and you might have to travel to take it. It’s accepted by more places, though.

On the other hand, the Duolingo test is shorter and changes based on how well you’re doing. You do the speaking part on a computer. It’s cheaper and saves time. But not as many places accept it. If you from Jalandhar need help with a Visa, look for a Canada study visa immigration consultant in Jalandhar.

The best test for you depends on what you like, what score you want, how much money you have, and where you want to go. All the best.


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