Duolingo English Test

9 Mistakes To Avoid In DUOLINGO Exam To Score High

Acing the Duolingo Exam (DET) can be your ticket to educational opportunities, work visas, or simply proving your English language proficiency. But with 1000 words looming, nerves can get the best of you. Don’t worry; avoiding these common mistakes will make you well on your way to DET domination.

1- Don’t Just List, Describe the Image:

The Duolingo English Test (DET) throws a variety of tasks your way, and one particularly common one involves describing a photo. Here’s the catch: many students simply list the objects they see, falling into the trap of “labeling” instead of telling. This leads to two significant drawbacks :

  • Limited Vocabulary: You’re only using essential words, missing out on showcasing your true vocabulary range.
  • Simple Sentence Structure: Labeling relies on short, choppy sentences that don’t impress the graders.

2- Writing Only The Minimum Word Requirement:

The DUOLINGO English Test (DET) features writing sections, but simply meeting the minimum word count is insufficient. The DET website emphasizes “length” as a grading criterion. This means they expect you to go beyond the minimum requirements to showcase your ability to develop ideas and express yourself clearly.

3- Forgetting The Track in the Speaking Section:

Losing of thought during the DUOLINGO speaking section can be a real problem. It will confuse you and will lead to a decrease in your marks. The key is to maintain focus and have some recovery strategies in place in case you do get sidetracked. And sometimes, when you lose track, the relevancy factor, which is the primary grading criteria, is missed.

4- Selecting All Options:

This exam presents vocabulary challenges in two forms: reading and listening. While the “Select All” strategy might seem tempting in multiple-choice questions, it can be detrimental. Choosing all options may occasionally lead to correct answers by chance, but it also increases the likelihood of selecting incorrect ones. 

A more effective approach is carefully analyzing each option and selecting only demonstrably true ones. Selecting all may lead you to:

Negative Marking: The DET penalizes you for selecting incorrect answers. Picking everything gives you points for the actual words but also deducts points for the fake ones, potentially leaving you worse off.

5- Punctuation Errors:

The DET dictation section presents you with spoken English; you must transcribe it accurately, including all punctuation marks. Proper punctuation is essential for conveying your sentences’ intended meaning and structure. 

It helps the reader understand the flow of ideas, separates elements within a sentence, and indicates pauses. Without proper punctuation, your writing can become confusing or ambiguous, even if the words are spelled correctly.

6- Rushing Through the Practice Test:

The DET offers a practice test for a reason. It’s your chance to familiarize yourself with the format, question types, and time constraints. Treat it like a mini-dress rehearsal. Don’t just skim through; actively engage with the questions, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and adjust your study plan accordingly.

7- Forgetting Vocabulary is Key:

The DET throws various vocabulary words your way. Don’t just memorize isolated terms. Focus on building context by learning synonyms, antonyms, and how words function in sentences. Use flashcards or spaced repetition apps to make vocabulary retention a breeze.

8- Panicking Under Pressure

Test day jitters are normal. But remember, you’ve got this! Take deep breaths, stay calm, and read the questions carefully. Don’t get hung up on a difficult question; move on and return to it later if time allows. Manage your time effectively and avoid spending too long on any single section.

Know how to prepare for DUOLINGO in 7 Days

9- Looking Away From The Screen:

(DET) is designed to be taken at home, offering flexibility for test-takers. However, DUOLINGO prioritizes test security to ensure the validity of results. Looking away from the screen repeatedly might trigger a red flag for the proctoring system.

This system is in place to maintain the integrity of the test and prevent potential cheating. Keeping your eyes on the screen demonstrates that you’re completing the test independently and without unauthorized assistance.

Preparation Tips For DUOLINGO Exam To Score High:

  • Go beyond “labeling”: Don’t just list objects in a photo. Use descriptive language to paint a picture with words. Mention colors, sizes, materials, and positions of objects.
  • Expand your vocabulary: Learn synonyms and descriptive words to showcase your language range.
  • Craft complex sentences: Move beyond simple subject-verb structures. Use connectives, phrases, and clauses to build grammatically exciting sentences.
  • Write more than the minimum: Aim to exceed the minimum word count. Use the extra space to elaborate on details and showcase your ability to develop ideas.
  • Practice recovery strategies: Anticipate getting sidetracked and plan how to get back on track. Prepare some transition phrases to refocus your answer smoothly.
  • Maintain relevance: Ensure your speaking stays connected to the prompt or question. Avoid going off on tangents that don’t contribute to the topic.
  • Pay attention to pauses and emphasis: Punctuation reflects spoken language’s intended meaning and flow. Use commas, periods, question marks, and exclamation points correctly to convey the message clearly.
  • Practice dictation: Sharpen your listening and writing skills with dictation exercises from various sources.
  • Actively engage: Don’t just breeze through the practice test. Analyze your performance, identify improvement areas, and adjust your study plan accordingly.
  • Simulate test conditions: Treat the practice test like the actual exam. Manage your time effectively and get accustomed to the format and question types.
  • Minimize distractions: Avoid looking away from the screen repeatedly. This can trigger flags in the proctoring system.

To level up your practice, you can choose Gurully. Our online platform will help you practice in a streamlined manner. Our platform offers a realistic exam simulation that mimics the actual DET experience, complete with authentic mock test content. These practice tests are designed to reflect the predicted questions you might encounter on the exam, giving you a valuable advantage and helping you identify areas for improvement.


In conclusion, while the DET may seem daunting at first glance, with focused preparation, you can take it and achieve your English proficiency goals. By avoiding the pitfalls we’ve discussed and implementing these practical strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to showcase your language skills on test day. Remember, the DET is your chance to shine—so take a deep breath, stay calm, and confidently demonstrate your English abilities!



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