Test Update: New scored, long-form speaking and writing

To better assess students’ speaking and writing ability, the Duolingo English Test now scores the long-form, open response speaking and writing as part of the overall score. These are scored using artificial intelligence for more consistent grading than human raters.

The Duolingo English Test strikes a balance between offering an accessible test length (via stable internet connection) and ensuring that test items are highly predictive of the language skills they measure. Changes to the test items are a result of feedback from institutions that students’ ability to speak and write is paramount to their success in an academic setting. While our previous measures of speaking and writing were predictive of those abilities, institutional feedback compelled us to explore further ways to assess speaking and writing. As such, Duolingo has developed reliable automated scoring of the previous video interview and writing sample without significantly adding to the test length—which remains under an hour. 

What type of questions are students answering?

Prompts are multi-modal and may be written, audible, or image based. The difficulty is correlated with the test taker’s performance. The more proficient the test taker, the more abstract the questions become. Examples include:

  • [Audible] Describe your favorite mode of transportation. Is it by car, boat, airplane, bicycle, or train? Explain why.
  • [Written] Talk about a book you read recently. What was it about? How did you first hear of it? What did you like or dislike about it?
  • [Image] Describe graffiti art on the wall of an urban landscape.


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