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Choosing the right English test can make all the difference if you're planning to move abroad for work, study or migration. IELTS and Duolingo English Test (DET) are popular two options. Both tests are designed to test English competency, but IELTS stands out as the clear winner owing to its global recognition and the flexibility it offers to test takers.

IELTS or DET: The key differences

Duolingo is a language platform that offers an array of exercises, games, and online tools to help people improve their language skills. Since 2014, the company has been offering the Duolingo English Test (DET) which is primarily an academic test that is accepted by some universities and colleges.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) on the other hand has been around for more than 30 years and offers multiple tests for different test taker needs. Globally accepted, with over 2,200 test locations and online in more than 80 countries, it is the leading choice of students, aspiring migrants and jobseekers looking to embark on their overseas journeys to native English-speaking countries.




Accepted by 11,500 organisations worldwide

Accepted by 4000+ universities and colleges

Available formats

Available on paper, computer and online

Only available online

Accepted for migration by Australia, New Zealand, UK and Canada



Speaking test

One-to-one speaking test with a real person who understands different accents.

Requires test takers to record their verbal response to questions by speaking into a microphone.

DET is not accepted for migration

Duolingo currently doesn't offer a test that is accepted for migration. Compare that with IELTS, which is widely recognised and is globally accepted by all immigration departments that require an English Language test, including: Australia, Canada, UK and New Zealand.

IELTS enjoys three times more recognition compared to DET

IELTS is accepted by over 11,500 organisations worldwide, whereas DET's recognition is limited to around 4,000 universities and institutions – almost a third of the number of organisations that recognise IELTS.

IELTS or DET: Test format

DET does not assess all critical language skills required for success in an English-based academic setting as it only focuses on grammar and vocabulary. It consists of two sections. The Adaptive section runs over 45-minutes and features multiple-choice questions that adjust the difficulty level of questions based on the test taker’s previous answer. This is followed by a 10-minute video interview, where test takers are presented with a series of prompts and are required to record their spoken responses. The test uses statistical machine learning algorithms to calculate the results on a scale of 10-160.

IELTS in contrast offers two distinct tests for academic and migration purposes that comprehensively test your competency in four key language skills: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. The total duration of the test is around 165 minutes, and each section features a variety of different question types designed to accurately assess your English proficiency. The Listening and Speaking sections are machine-marked, while the Reading and Speaking components are marked by a trained team of certified examiners.

IELTS gives you the flexibility to choose the format

IELTS can be taken on both paper or computer, whereas DET is only available online. This flexibility to choose the format is a significant factor for many test-takers in deciding which test to take.

IELTS or DET: Which test is more reliable?

In contrast to DET, IELTS has been around for more than 30 years and there has been extensive research and continuous improvement to ensure fairness and reliability of the test. Its testing procedures are subject to the highest quality controls, security protocols and integrity management practices, ensuring greater reliability and accuracy of results.

Alternatives to DET

As DET is accepted by a limited number of universities and colleges, it is yet to prove itself as a reliable English proficiency test that can be used for a variety of purposes.

IELTS Academic and General Training on the other hand are recognised and trusted by leading universities, institutions, professional organisations and immigration departments across the world. By taking IELTS, you open yourself to a wider range of options and opportunities, locally and globally.

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