How to pass the Duolingo English exam

If you’re planning on taking the Duolingo English Exam, then check out our top tips guide to passing with the high score that you want! You will be asked to complete various tasks that test your speaking, reading, listening and writing skills, scored using the Duolingo score system but in relation to IELTS and TOEFL scoring. You can expect tasks such as:

Choose the real words from a written list

In this task you are given a list of words, some real and some made up and asked to choose only the correct ones. 

Top Tip: Be careful with choosing the correct word and make sure you check the spelling as some words look like they might be correct but in fact are made up!

How to pass the Duolingo English exam

Choose the real words from an audio list 

Similar to the previous task but instead of reading you listen to the words being given orally before selecting the real words. 

Top Tip: The same advice goes for this exam task as the last one. The pronunciation might sound like a real word but in fact it isn’t so listen very carefully!

Duolingo English exam

Complete the words in a paragraph

This task requires you to complete the missing letters in selected words in a given paragraph. You’re being tested on vocabulary knowledge, sentence formation and grammar structures. 

Top Tip: You could try revising some specific grammar structures or dependent prepositions to help prepare for this part of the test.

type missing letters

Type the statement that you hear 

A simple task of writing what you hear with the option to repeat the audio 3 times. Here you are being tested on your listening comprehension, vocabulary and spelling skills. 

Top Tip: The accents that you hear are American, if you’re not familiar with this accent then start watching American TV and film or listening to an American podcast.

type the statement

Record yourself saying a given statement 

This task is all about your pronunciation of individual words but also your sentence stress and intonation knowledge. Remember that English is a stress timed language which means that some syllables will be longer or shorter unlike other languages such as Spanish, French or Cantonese for example. 

Top Tip: Record yourself saying short sentences and listening back to them to see if you can improve your pronunciation. You can check online for specific pronunciation of words you are practicing to make sure they are correct.

record yourself with statement

Speak the English word for each image 

This time instead of being given a word to pronounce you are being tested on your vocabulary knowledge as well as your general pronunciation. If you are unsure of the word for what you are seeing, you can always take a guess. 

Top Tip: You are not penalized for making wrong answers so always have a guess if you don’t know!

speak the word

Write at least one sentence about the given image 

This task is asking you to think about your writing structures using descriptive language. You will need to write complete sentences that have appropriate punctuation and give the reader an idea of what is being shown in the picture. 

Top Tip: The more you are able to write in the short amount of time given, the higher mark you would receive.

write one sentence

Prepare to speak for at least 30 seconds about the given question

This task gives you some prompts on the topic that they would like you to speak about. As the test is recorded using your webcam, the video is assessed and a mark given for your fluency, accuracy, pronunciation and how well you are able to get your point across. 

Top Tip: If you cannot think of a true answer to the question then you can invent one. E.G. Don’t get stuck thinking about what your favourite hobby is, just choose one that you know and go from there.

talking about hobby

Choose one topic to speak about for 1-3 minutes 

Similar to the previous task, this one aims to get you showcase as much of your spoken language as possible. They want you to push yourself and demonstrate your English, try to include interesting language, complex grammar structures and discourse markers. This part isn’t actually marked and part of your exam result, but it is sent to the institutions that you apply for. This is a great opportunity to show them who you are and your English skills. 

Top Tip: Don’t forget about your pronunciation and sentence intonation when speaking in a monologue.

choose one topic

Choose one topic to write about for 3-5 minutes 

Writing! This task is where you will be able to show off your excellent writing skills about either of the given topics. You are also given prompts about what to include so you’re being tested on your instruction following skills as well. Try to write for as long as possible (5 minutes and 500 words is the maximum) to make sure that you demonstrate your writing style and general English knowledge.

Top Tip: You should aim to use discourse markers, linking words, descriptive and imaginative language and complete sentences with complex grammar structures if you can.

choose topic to write

write a topic

Final top tips for passing for the exam

This exam has been designed to test your general level of English and is not based on specific exam techniques needed for tests like IELTS or TEOFL. The best way to prepare for this is to improve your general language by taking classes with a teacher or doing some self-study. While we always recommend students to take responsibility for their own learning and to study by themselves, we think the most effective way for a student to improve is by combining this with taking lessons with a qualified English teacher.

Preparing for any kind of test can be daunting but at The Language Gallery, we’re here to help you. If you’re interested in doing some preparation for the Duolingo test, then why not get in touch with us at The Language Gallery where one of our experienced and qualified teachers can help you achieve your goal?

Simply enquire now by completing the form on this page or contact us directly and one of our team members will be happy to help you choose the course that will suit your goals best.


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