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What is the Duolingo English Test? Which Top Colleges Accept it?

Anyone who’s interested in learning a new language is probably familiar with Duolingo. This gamified app offers lessons, tests, and means of tracking your skills in a foreign language. 


If you’re studying English as a second language, it can go even further, by proving to colleges that you’re proficient in the language. While tests like Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) have been around for far longer than Duolingo, the newer app is steadily gaining traction as a sufficient means of proving that you’re competent in English.


What is the Duolingo English Test?


The Duolingo English Test is an adaptive test you can take online at your convenience. You’ll also receive your certified results quickly — within 48 hours, according to the website. 


The test is backed by research and claims to produce results on par with assessments like the TOEFL and IELTS. Beginning with a 5-minute setup, the adaptive test (45 minutes) evaluates reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. The final 10 minutes consist of a video interview, in which you will respond to open-ended questions. Questions are typically short and range from fill-in-the-blanks to image descriptions to speaking aloud. The Duolingo test is adaptive, meaning it adjusts to the individual’s skills as it progresses. 


Duolingo notes that they implement security protocols and that the adaptive technology helps prevent cheating.


How is the Duolingo English Test Different?


At just $49, the Duolingo English Test is far cheaper than the TOEFL and IELTS. But that’s not the only difference between Duolingo and more traditional English proficiency assessments.


Much like its alternatives, the test primarily assesses speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills. But unlike similar tests, it focuses on conversational language skills as opposed to more formal English. It also adapts to the test-taker’s proficiency as they go through the assessment, increasing with difficulty as they answer questions correctly. The structure of the test and questions, too, are less formal, covering a wide range of topics and real-life scenarios.


Another key difference is the fact that test-takers can take it from their homes rather than going to a testing center or other facility. (Though there have been some new options for taking the TOEFL and IELTS at home, too, in light of the pandemic.)

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Which Colleges Accept the Duolingo English Test?


The following top universities and liberal arts colleges accept the Duolingo English test to demonstrate English proficiency (note that colleges that require additional tests are not included; in some cases, an English proficiency test is not required but will be reviewed if submitted):


Top 20 Universities


Columbia University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Yale University

Stanford University

The University of Chicago

University of Pennsylvania

California Institute of Technology

Johns Hopkins University

Northwestern University

Duke University

Dartmouth College

Brown University

Vanderbilt University

Rice University

Washington University in St. Louis

Cornell University

University of Notre Dame

University of California Los Angeles


Top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges


Williams College

Swarthmore College

Wellesley College

Bowdoin College

Claremont McKenna College

Carleton College

Hamilton College

Middlebury College

Washington and Lee University

Grinnell College

Colby College

Davidson College

Haverford College

Smith College

Colgate University

Wesleyan University


You can review additional schools’ Duolingo policies and see up-to-date requirements on their website. Please double-check these policies, as they’re subject to change.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.