One of the prerequisites for admission to a top global university is having great English-language skills. With rising demand for a foreign higher education degree, aspiring students, there has been a rise in the number of those vying for a good score in one of the globally-accepted English-language tests.
One such test is the Duolingo English language test which, according to the platform, has seen exponential growth in the number of students taking it in India. Between 2021 and 2022, its test volume nearly tripled in India.
Currently considered by over 3,000 programs and institutions worldwide for admission to various programs, the test has seen significant growth in awareness and acceptance amongst students in key markets and universities globally.
“A good number of prospective study abroad students now realize that the Duolingo English Test is a better alternative to traditional testing, designed with their requirements in mind and accepted by a very large range of universities across the globe,” says Neha Gupta De, Senior Market Development Manager, India, Duolingo English Test.
While the IELTS and TOEFL have been the preferred choice for many applicants over the years, the growing demand for a foreign education among Indian students has also contributed to Duolingo’s popularity.
Elaborating on the key reasons why Indians opt for Duolingo, Gupta De says: “Taking this test and being able to show that one has the requisite level of English for his/her next educational move, should be affordable, simple and accessible for all.”
However, the traditional language testing process is complex and stressful, and often involves booking an appointment at a test centre (for which there may be limited availability), travelling – sometimes across international borders – to a test centre, and then waiting days or even weeks for test results, she explains.
The cost of doing this, not including travel expenses, can be as much as a month’s salary in some parts of the world. “Offering our test online, on-demand, and at an affordable price (49 USD) means more students are able to test their best,” adds Gupta De.
Pandemic Impact On Use Of Duolingo Scores
Some of the major challenges for universities and test agencies after the onset of the pandemic have been to deliver education, testing and assessment online. With an increase in number of Indian students going abroad to destinations such as the US, The UK, Australia, Germany and Canada facing issues with travel, logistics, visa hurdles and border closures, English-language tests such as Duolingo also had to be conducted online in a systematic, secure and accessible format.
The pandemic highlighted the need for secure, accessible remote testing options even more. The Duolingo model of at-home, on-demand English language testing is aimed at overcoming the limitations of geography, time, and cost of the physical test centre approach — all while remaining highly reliable and secure. As the pandemic continues to affect how education and testing is administered, assessment technology has proven that high-quality at-home testing is possible for hundreds and thousands of students, says Gupta De.
What The Data Says
More students than ever took the Duolingo English Test for the admissions cycle of Fall 2021 from more than 12,000 cities, showing the global demand for international education.
Duolingo accepting universities are located in the US, China, India, the UK, Canada and Brazil. While the US had the maximum (23,000) test cities, China had 850, followed by India at 740, the UK at 590 and Canada at 530 cities.
The Indian cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi were among those with the highest test taker count at over 1,000 each during August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021 admissions cycle. Chennai and Pune had over 500 test takers.
Globally, 177 other cities from 36 countries accounted for more than 100 test takers. Most Indian Duolingo English Test takers apply to postgraduate programs; while those from China, the US, Canada and Brazil opt for undergraduate studies.
India recently overtook China as the largest market for this test. According to Duolingo’s research, being the second-largest international student market with many Indian applicants having English as their top two languages, this is not universally the case which proves English proficiency is all the more important.
“India has a large number of physical test centres but they cannot accommodate and cope with the test taker demand. While India’s 10 highest volume cities account for 60% of all Indian Duolingo English Test takers, a large minority (40%) are distributed right across the country,” reveals data.
Duolingo V/s TOEFL V/s IELTS
With over 11 lakh students studying abroad in 2021, India is one of the largest senders of students in international universities.
Each of the three tests are different when it comes to scoring, fees, syllabus and mode of examination. Another difference between Duolingo, IELTS and TOEFL is that the other two are conducted offline as well as online and Duolingo is conducted in the online mode only. Duolingo also has the lowest fee among the 3 tests and is priced at $49. It is also shorter and is conducted for 45 minutes. IELTS is conducted across 164 minutes and TOEFL for 206 minutes. Duolingo also has fewer sections and delivers faster results (within 48 hours).