6 Ways to Improve Your Conversation Score

6 Ways to Improve Your Conversation Score
Koh Tao, Thailand. Photo by Max Böttinger / Unsplash

The Conversation subscore on the Duolingo English Test is the second lowest subscore on average. This is why so many test takers want to improve it.

If you’re one of those people, you’re in the right place! In this article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know in order to quickly and significantly raise your Conversation subscore, including how you can get unlimited practice on Conversation questions with instant scoring and feedback.

Let’s jump in!

Table of Contents

Understand the Conversation Subscore

The Conversation subscore is 1 of the 4 subscores on the Duolingo English Test (DET), so it counts for 25% of your overall score.

The official Duolingo diagram that explains the 4 subscores of the Duolingo English Test
The official Duolingo diagram that explains the 4 subscores of the Duolingo English Test

Duolingo defines Conversation as, “The ability to listen and speak.” This makes sense. When you’re in a conversation, you need to speak and listen to the other person.

In 2022, the average Conversation subscore was 98.68.

👉 To see the average on all subscores, check out Global average scores on the Duolingo English Test

Top 6 Tips for Conversation Questions

Make sure your volume is turned up

If you can’t hear the recording, you won’t be able to understand it!

In some question types, you can only listen to the recording one time. For other question types, the recording will play automatically, and you can only replay it twice. Later in this article, we're going to look closely at each Conversation question type.

Listen carefully

Small details in the recordings can be the difference between a mediocre score and a great score. When you’re listening, make sure you really focus.

Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly

When you have to record yourself, it is crucial that you make yourself easy to understand. During the test, you will be stressed, and when we are stressed, we speak more quickly. It’s important that you remember to slow down. It’s also important that you make sure you clearly pronounce each word and to speak loudly. You want to speak more slowly, carefully, and loudly than you would naturally.

You should pretend like you are speaking to an elderly person who can’t hear very well who is sitting across the room 👵 This will help you to slow down, pronounce each syllable, and speak loudly so that your voice is easy to hear in your recording.

Use a good microphone

If your microphone is bad, it will be hard to hear you in your recording and you won’t be able to get a good score.

You can test the quality of your microphone by practicing Conversation questions using Arno. We give you unlimited practice questions for every question type with instant scoring and feedback. It’s also completely free! Just click the link below to start practicing.

"Try Now" call to action for Arno

Take the test in a quiet place

Background noise will make it harder to hear your voice in your recording.

Don’t stop if you make a mistake

In questions that require you to speak, you will only be able to record yourself 1 time. If you make a mistake, just keep going. It is still possible to get a strong score, even if you make a mistake.

Conversation Questions on the Duolingo English Test

There are 8 question types that count toward your Conversation subscore. Let’s look at each one as well as tips for each of them.

Listen and Type

A "Listen and Type" question on the Duolingo English Test
A "Listen and Type" question on the Duolingo English Test

This question type appears 6 to 9 times on the test.

💡 Tips

  1. Pause between listens and ask yourself, What do you think they said? What did you not understand? Were there any words you didn’t recognize?
  2. Use the 3 plays of the recording strategically. You should listen to the recording twice. Next, write your response. Then, listen to the recording for the final time. This order ensures you get the most out of each listen.

👉 To learn more about how the Listen and Type question type, check out our article: “Listen and Type” - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

Read Aloud

A "Read Aloud" question on the Duolingo English Test
A "Read Aloud" question on the Duolingo English Test

This question type appears 3 to 6 times.

💡 Tips

  1. Practice first, then record yourself
  2. Pay attention to punctuation. Pause briefly when there’s a comma. Pause for longer when there’s a period. If there’s a question mark (?), end with an upward inflection.

👉 “Read Aloud” - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

Speak About the Photo

This question appears just once on the test.

💡 Tips

  1. Use the 5 W's strategy to structure your response
  2. Study the image carefully. The image you are given is quite small. Be sure to study it carefully to notice all important details.
  3. Speak for the entire 90 seconds. This will help you get a higher score.
  4. Stay on topic. If your response is not relevant enough to the image, you will lose points.

👉 "Speak About the Photo" - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

Read, Then Speak

A "Read, Then Speak" question from the Duolingo English Test
A "Read, Then Speak" question from the Duolingo English Test

This question appears once on the test.

💡 Tips

  1. Use the Answer the Questions strategy
  2. Read the topic carefully. Make sure you understand all the aspects you need to address.
  3. Speak for the entire 90 seconds. If you don’t speak enough, you can’t get a high score.

👉 "Read, Then Speak" - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

Listen, Then Speak

A "Listen, Then Speak" question from the Duolingo English Test
A "Listen, Then Speak" question from the Duolingo English Test

This question appears 2 times.

💡 Tips

  1. Use the I LAST strategy
  2. Make sure you understand the topic. Use all 3 replays in order to make sure you talk about the right thing.
  3. Speak for the entire 90 seconds

👉 "Listen, Then Speak" - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question

Speaking Sample

A "Speaking Sample" question from the Duolingo English Test
A "Speaking Sample" question from the Duolingo English Test

This question appears just 1 time.

💡 Tips

  1. Read the topic carefully. It will be quite long with many aspects that you need to address.
  2. Use the I LAST strategy
  3. Stay on topic. If you talk about something off topic, you will lose points.
  4. Speak for the entire 3 minutes. Longer answers generally get higher scores.

👉 Speaking Sample - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question

Interactive Listening

The final two Conversation question types make up the Interactive Listening portion of the test.

Listen and Respond

Screenshot of a "Listen and Respond" from the Duolingo English Test showing how you have to play the recording before you can select the correct response.
You need to listen to the clip in order to respond.

This question type appears 5 times and they’re all part of one “conversation.” You have to listen to what the other person says and then pick the correct response 5 times.

💡 Tips

  1. Choose your answers carefully. There are usually multiple options that seem correct. Duolingo is trying to trick you into picking an incorrect answer.
  2. Listen carefully. You can only listen to each audio clip one time.
  3. Read the correct answer. This allows you to still understand the conversation even if you pick the wrong response.
  4. Before clicking “Next” at the end of the conversation, reread the scenario and conversation. This will help you with the next question.

👉 "Interactive Listening" - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

Summarize the Conversation

After the conversation is over, you are asked to summarize it.

A "Summarize the Conversation" question from the Duolingo English Test
A "Summarize the Conversation" question from the Duolingo English Test

Although this question is part of the Interactive Listening section, it actually doesn’t require you to listen. At the end of the conversation you can read through what the other person said and the correct responses. This is a super helpful trick to make sure you can get a great score on this question!

Screenshot showing the end of the "Listen and Respond" question
The end of the "Listen and Respond" question

💡 Tips

  1. Use the 5 W’s strategy
  2. Save approximately 20 seconds to proofread your response. Look for obvious errors like typos and misspellings.

👉 "Interactive Listening" - Guide to Duolingo English Test Question (2023)

How to Practice Conversation Questions

Arno is the best way to practice Conversation questions (and every question type on the Duolingo English Test!)

We give you instant score estimates and feedback on your vocabulary and grammar — even on speaking questions! Our users tell us all the time that it’s amazing 🤩

Screenshot showing how Arno gives you instant scoring and feedback.
Arno gives you instant scoring and feedback.

Arno will even explain your grammar mistakes so that you can understand why something is incorrect.

Arno explains your grammar mistakes.
Arno explains your grammar mistakes.

You can also replay your recording and on Read Aloud questions compare it to the original, so that you can perfect your pronunciation.

Screenshot showing how Arno allows you to compare you pronunciation to a perfect pronunciation.
Arno allows you to compare you pronunciation to a perfect pronunciation. 

The best part is that Arno is completely free! Just click below to start increasing your Conversation subscore.

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