12 Tips to Raise Your Score on the Duolingo English Test

Are you going to take the Duolingo English Test? These tips will help you improve your score immediately.

To go deeper with your preparation, be sure to check out our other popular articles: Duolingo English Test Ultimate Guide and How to Practice for the Duolingo English Test.

Let’s jump into the tips!

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Table of Contents

  1. Duolingo tries to trick you.
  2. The difficulty of the questions adapts to you.
  3. Check with schools for fee waivers.
  4. Write and speak for the entire length of the question.
  5. Save time to proofread your responses to writing questions.
  6. Make sure you are alone for the duration of the test.
  7. Don’t look away from the screen.
  8. Make sure your internet connection is stable.
  9. Make sure it’s easy to hear you.
  10. On the Interactive Listening question, read the full conversation before advancing to the Summarize the Conversation question.
  11. Focus on improving your Production subscore.
  12. Don’t just answer practice questions. Make sure they are scored and you get feedback.

1. Duolingo tries to trick you.

In 3 question types — Read and Select, Interactive Listening, and Interactive Reading — Duolingo will give you options that seem correct but are not!

For example, in "Read and Select" questions, you have to decide whether a word is real or not. In the example below, "somether" looks and sound similar to the words "something" and "other", but it is not a real word!

Screenshot showing the word "somether" which is not a real word
Duolingo tries to trick you by giving you words that look and sound like real words.
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This is why for Read and Select questions, you should only select the words that you are confident are real. For more tips, check out our article: "Read and Select" - Question Guide

In "Interactive Listening" and "Interactive Reading" questions, Duolingo will give you options with only slight differences. You can see how similar the options can be in the example below. They’re all about a review session or study group, which are the same thing.

Screenshot showing how options on "Listen and Respond" questions can be similar.
Options on "Listen and Respond" questions can be similar.

2. The difficulty of the questions adapts to you.

The Duolingo English Test is “adaptive,” which means that its difficulty adapts to your level. If you get a question right, the next question will harder, and if you get a question wrong, the next question will be easier.

This is why the DET is so much shorter than tests like TOEFL and IELTS. You won’t waste time answering questions that are too easy or too difficult for you.

3. Check with schools for fee waivers.

Duolingo doesn’t provide fee waivers directly to students. Rather, Duolingo provides fee waivers to schools and other institutions who then give fee waivers to students.

You should check whether the schools you’re applying to provide fee waivers. Many have formal processes to request one, but many don’t.

👉 To learn everything you need to know about how to get a fee waiver, check out our article: How to Get a Fee Waiver for the Duolingo English Test

4. Write and speak for the entire length of the question.

For questions in which you need to write or speak, you are given a maximum amount of time to respond. Use all of it. Longer answers generally get higher scores.

There is no benefit to answering questions quickly. Each question has its own timer. Going faster on one question does not give you more time on other questions nor does it get you a higher score.

The only exceptions to this are the Interactive Reading and the Interactive Listening sections, where the entire section is timed and you have to answer multiple questions. This means that going fast on some questions, will leave you with more time for later questions.

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Writing and speaking questions count toward your Production subscore, which is the hardest portion of the test. To learn how to do well on writing and speaking questions, check out our popular article: 8 Ways to Improve Your Production Score.

5. Save time to proofread your responses to writing questions.

The Duolingo English Test moves quickly. So, during the test, people tend to write quickly, which causes them to make mistakes. This is why it’s crucial that you proofread your responses before time runs up. Fixing misspellings, typos, missing words, and other obvious mistakes is an easy way to raise your score.

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A good rule to follow is that for each minute you have, you should spend 50 seconds writing and 10 seconds proofreading.

So, for the 5 minute Writing Sample question, you should write for about 4  minutes and proofread for about 1 minute.

While you are proofreading, just fix the obvious mistakes. Don’t spend time trying to remember how to conjugate a verb or which preposition is correct.

This video explains the 3 most common, easiest to fix mistakes that test takers make on the DET:

6. Make sure you are alone for the duration of the test.

You take the Duolingo English Test from home. This is really convenient, but it also means that Duolingo is very careful about cheating.

During the test, Duolingo records you using your webcam. Human proctors review these recordings for any signs that you may have cheated. A common reason that results are not certified is that someone else is in the room while you are taking the test. Even if someone just walks by, your test will be invalidated.

👉 Important Rules You MUST Know for the Duolingo English Test

Email explaining why a test taker's results were not certified because Duolingo suspected someone else was in the room.
This test taker's results weren't certified because Duolingo suspected someone else was in the room.

7. Don’t look away from the screen.

This is another common reason that results are not certified. Many people struggle with this because it is natural to look away from the screen while you are thinking or speaking. You have to train yourself to stay focused on the screen during the test.

8. Make sure your internet connection is stable.

The Duolingo English Test is internet-based, and there is no way to redo questions on the exam. If there are disruptions in your connection, your answers won’t be submitted and you will have to retake the test.

9. Make sure it’s easy to hear you.

There many speaking questions on the DET. If it is difficult to hear your voice in the recordings, you will get a lower score, even if you speak well. You should:

  • Use a good microphone: If the microphone on your laptop or computer isn’t good, ask to borrow one from a friend or use an external microphone. However, you cannot use a microphone on a pair of headphones because headphones are not allowed on the DET.
  • Take the test in a quiet place: Background noise will make it more difficult to hear you.
  • Speak loudly: You should pretend like you are speaking to someone across the room, not someone sitting close to you. This will ensure that you are easy to hear.

10. On the Interactive Listening question, read the full conversation before advancing to the Summarize the Conversation question.

The Interactive Listening section is the most confusing part of the test. It simulates a real conversation. You will listen to what the other person says and then pick the appropriate response. You answer approximately 5 of these “Listen and Respond” questions. Then, you will be asked to summarize the conversation you just had.

But here’s a trick: After you answer all the “Listen and Respond” questions, you can scroll to the top of the conversation and reread the whole thing! If you answer a “Listen and Respond” question incorrectly, Duolingo shows you the correct answer. You can read the full, correct conversation so that you are fully prepared for the “Summarize the Conversation” question.

Screenshot showing how In "Listen and Respond" questions, Duolingo shows you the right answer if you answer incorrectly.
In "Listen and Respond" questions, Duolingo shows you the right answer if you answer incorrectly.

11. Focus on improving your Production subscore.

Of the 4 subscores on the Duolingo English Test, the Production subscore is the lowest on average.

The Production subscore measures your ability to write and speak. It should be no surprise that this is the hardest part of the test for most people!

The good news is that the Production subscore is the easiest to improve. By learning some simple strategies, tips, and tricks, you can quickly raise your score by several points.

Improving your Production subscore will also improve your English level as a whole, which will also help raise your other subscores.

12. Don’t just answer practice questions. Make sure they are scored and you get feedback.

If you answer a lot of practice questions, but you make the same mistakes again and again, you won’t improve. This is why you need scoring and feedback.

With Arno, you not only get unlimited practice questions for every question type on the Duolingo English Test for free. We also give you an instant estimated score plus feedback on your grammar and vocabulary. Arno even explains your mistakes to you so that you can learn.

Click the link below to sign up and start practicing in just seconds!

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