IELTS vs Duolingo: Difference and Comparison

English is a language that has been developing and progressing for 1400 years. English belongs to the family of Indo European language.

English came from Anglos, who were considered as some of the earliest settlers in England.

English is considered a West Germanic language, but it influences both French and Latin. Modern English is spoken around the world.

Due to its free word order, inflectional morphology, auxiliary verbs etc. English is the most famous language internationally.


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English is also one of the most spoken languages. IELTS and Duolingo are two English language learning systems.

Key Takeaways

  1. IELTS is a standardized English proficiency test widely recognized by educational institutions and employers, administered in a proctored environment.
  2. Duolingo offers an online, adaptive English test with flexible scheduling, appealing to those seeking convenience and affordability.
  3. IELTS remains the gold standard for English proficiency assessment, while Duolingo provides an accessible alternative for some situations.

IELTS vs Duolingo

IELTS is a widely recognized English language proficiency test which measures the ability of non-native English speakers to communicate in English. Duolingo is an online language learning platform that offers courses in several different languages, including Spanish and English.

IELTS vs Duolingo

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System, which is jointly managed by Cambridge Assessment English, British Council, IDP and IELTS Australia. It is a standard test that was established in the year 1989.

Since then, the IELTS test has been conducted every year, and it is one of the major tests held for the English language internationally. IELTS test is valid all over the world.

To take higher education or to take a job, immigration into various academic and professional organizations of different countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, Europe, Ireland and New Zealand, the United States accept this test.

Duolingo is a language learning website as well as an application that has its headquarters in Pittsburg, United States. It is an American company that has over 500 million users that are registered.

It provides a course on the English language and other languages of the world. It is a freemium app which means that it doesn’t charge money from its users.

If they want, they can purchase its premium version by paying money. Users learn the language by learning specific skills pronunciation, reading, grammar etc.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonIELTSDuolingo
Type of TestBoth Paper and Computer-BasedComputer-Based
PlaceVarious locations in the worldAt home
Test structure4 sectionsMixed up pattern
Duration100-105 minutes60 minutes

What is IELTS? 

IELTS test was launched in 1980. At that time, two organizations started it i.e.British council and Cambridge English Language assessment.

When these tests were introduced, it was a very innovative method that brought changes in both learning and teaching of English as a language.

Because of IELTS, there was an increase in English as a communicative language and English was used for special purposes.

When it was introduced, test takers were very low in number. But in five years they grew from 4000 to 10000.

Earlier, there were difficulties faced by test takers in registering for the test.

IELTS course was redesigned so that people can understand and see the test. IELTS test was designed keeping in mind the usage of English as a language in the real world.

On the International level, IELTS was launched in 1989. Four modules of the test were released. Two were non-specialised and two specialised.

Non-specialized courses are Listening and Speaking. Specialized ones are Reading and Writing.

After that, the number of test-takers increased by 15%.

Globally, it was conducted in the paper mode in 210 cities. IELTS is designed to develop the full range of abilities of non-native speakers into expert speakers.

There are two versions of IELTS-one is an Academic version for students who want to pursue their higher studies in English speaking countries.

The other is the General Training version for those who want to work, train, migrate to English speaking countries.

Scores in IELTS are given according to the band scale from 0 to 9.


What is Duolingo? 

Duolingo was founded by Louis Von Ann, who wanted to give free education to the world. Born in Guatemala, Swiss-born Louis saw that it was very difficult for people to learn a new language. They have to spend a lot of money.

So the idea of Duolingo came in 2009. They started with teaching foreign languages to various companies.

After that, they would charge money from them. After raising money, Duolingo made a website.

Where each course was built on the concept of tree.

In ‘trees’, various skills were there, and a specific aspect of a language was focussed. Trees are divided into various sections.

Skills consist of vocabulary, grammar, idioms, colours, relationships etc. and have six levels from 1 to 6 and are Legendary. After learning skills, users have to give the test to pass and go to the next level.

When they complete one chapter, they are rewarded with XP points.

In the year 2019, Duolingo launched stories where stories in different languages like French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese were available for the speakers of English.

Duolingo for School was also introduced so that teachers can check the language learning of their students.

Duolingo’s logo depicts a green owl named Duo.


Main Differences Between IELTS and Duolingo

  1. IELTS exam gives you two options between paper and online mode. Duolingo is available only in online mode.
  2. IELTS can be taken from various locations in the world. 48 test days are provided in a year for offline mode. Duolingo Test can be taken from the convenience of your home.
  3. IELTS test has four module structures, i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Duolingo test has a mixed up pattern consisting of all grammar, vocabulary, idioms etc.
  4. The duration of the IELTS exam is 100 to 105 minutes. The duration of the Duolingo exam is 60 minutes.
  5. The number of questions in IELTS is 250. The number of questions in Duolingo is 50 to 100.
  6. Fees of the IELTS exam is very expensive as compared to Duolingo.
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