IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo - Which Exam to Take for Study Abroad?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Aug 03, 2023 11:19 AM IST

Proving your English language proficiency is one of the fundamental criteria to study in an English-speaking country. In this article, let us find out which among the IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo and PTE you should take. 

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo - Which Exam to Take for Study Abroad?

The dilemma over which English proficiency test to take exists in the minds of every-native English speaker who wants to study abroad. Normally, you have to take an English language test required by the universities you are applying to along with the immigration departments, future employers and professional bodies.

Well, when you talk about proving your English proficiency, four popular exams come into the picture. These include the IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo and PTE Academic, all of which are widely accepted tests across the world for admissions of international students. But, which English proficiency test is ideal for you?

While TOEFL and IELTS have been long-time players in the market, PTE and Duolingo are comparatively new but are gradually gaining popularity. Here, you will discover the benefits and disadvantages of each of these English proficiency tests and find out which among them is the best, easiest and most convenient for you.

About IELTS Exam 

International English Language Testing System or the IELTS exam is one of the most widely recognised English language tests in universities across the globe. The test began its journey in the year 1989. It is conducted by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. Universities across the world trust IELTS scores for admission to both bachelor's and master's programmes abroad. Universities all over the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, etc. IELTS scores. The examination is generally conducted offline but now it is available in online mode as well and the IELTS Speaking section of the examination happens face-to-face, either in person or in a video conference. The test lasts for two hours and 45 minutes and is conducted over a period of two days. While other sections such as IELTS Listening, IELTS Writing, and IELTS Reading are held on one day and the speaking skills are tested on the other day. The cost of the test is around USD 198 (approx. INR 16,250).

Related Reads:

IELTS Speaking Section IELTS Listening Section
IELTS Reading Section IELTS Computer-based vs Paper-based Test: Which is Better?

About TOEFL Exam 

The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL exam is the forerunner of all English tests, with it being the first to be introduced in 1964 to test English language proficiency. TOEFL is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Most universities in the USA among over 12,000 universities across 130 countries accept TOEFL scores. It gives stiff competition to IELTS. The TOEFL is conducted on an internet-based test or paper-delivered test where the internet-based test is unavailable. The test takes one working day and is conducted in a single sitting of three hours and 15 minutes. The cost of the test is USD 170 (approx. INR 14,197.44). TOEFL, like IELTS, also consists of four sections- Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Recently ETS announced a shorter version of the TOEFL iBT exam which will come into effect from July 2023 onwards. It will be more convenient and hassle-free for students as the registration process and result updates are also streamlined.

Know Which English Proficiency Exam to Give to Study Abroad!

About PTE Exam 

Pearson Test of English or PTE Academic is newer than the above two but is still considered an important English proficiency examination that serves as the passport to study abroad. The examination is conducted by the Pearson PLC group and was introduced in 2009. The PTE examination is comparatively recent and is accepted by universities in the UK, USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. Unlike the other two tests, PTE is only available in online mode. The speaking and writing sections are clubbed together. Apart from this section, there is also a reading and listening section on the basis of which a candidate is tested. The three types of PTEtests are PTE Academic, PTE Academic UKVI, and PTE Home. The duration of the examination is two hours and 15 minutes. It costs around USD 176 (approx. INR 14,700) and is comparatively cheaper than the TOEFL.

About Duolingo English Test

The Duolingo English Test (DET) has been newly added to the list of tests that measure English proficiency, and it has started its journey in 2011. Though students are taking this test, it is yet to achieve a nod from most of the universities in the world. It also serves as a website and mobile application where you can learn languages very easily. Some countries which have started accepting DET scores are the USA, UK, China, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Thailand, Qatar, etc. The cost of the Duolingo test is USD 49 (approx. INR 4,069) which makes it the cheapest English proficiency test which takes only 60 minutes to complete. The advantage of the Duolingo test is that you can take it when and wherever you are comfortable. Besides the conventional sections, Duolingo also includes video conference interviews. The result takes up to two days to come out.

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo: A Detailed Comparison

In this table, we have done a thorough comparison between IELTS, TOEFL, PTE and Duolingo English Test:





Duolingo English Test

Mode of examination

Online & Offline

Online & Offline




Academic & General Training

TOEFL PBT (paper-based test) & TOEFL iBT (internet-based test)

PTE Academic, General & Young Learner Test



164 minutes

116 minutes (less than 2 hours)

135 minutes

45 minutes

Examination Fees

USD 198

USD 185

USD 170

USD 49

Number of Sections






Reading, Speaking, Listening & Writing

Reading, Speaking, Listening & Writing Reading, Speaking, Listening & Writing

Adaptive section (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and video conference interview

Result Declaration

3-5 days (online examination)

13 days (offline examination)

8 days

2 days or 48 hours

48 hours

Scoring Range

Band (0-9)

Score (0-120)

Score (10-90)

Score (10-160)

Score Comparison Chart of IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo

Here, we have done a comparison of the scores of each exam among the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE and Duolingo English Tests:




PTE Academic

Duolingo English Test






Very Good

























Extremely Limited





IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo: Which is Better?

The four English proficiency tests are widely accepted throughout the world by different renowned institutions. Hence, you can take any one of them. However, you should keep in mind a few things before making the final decision. Find out which may be better for you.

US vs UK vs Canada vs Australia: Which Country Do You Want to Study in?

In general, all four examinations, IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo, are widely acknowledged across the world. Nevertheless, TOEFL is mostly recognised at American colleges, whereas IELTS and PTE are acceptable in the UK, Canada, and Australia. Duolingo, on the other hand, is most popular in the United States. We must verify with each university, college, and institution to discover which English language proficiency exam is necessary for admission. Certain Canadian schools, for example, Ascenda College of Management and Arbutus College, do not accept Duolingo. Yet, Duolingo is accepted by American universities such as Harvard. As a result, more than the country, it is university policy that determines which exam you can take.

Scoring vs Language Building: What is Your End Goal? 

In terms of difficulty, IELTS and TOEFL are more difficult to pass than PTE and Duolingo. IELTS and TOEFL demand more constant practice and preparation before the examinations. On the IELTS writing segment, for example, just two tasks are assigned. If you fail even one task, you will watch your total IELTS score, not just the writing component, plummet like a falling star with a crying babyface. Mock tests and practice come in useful here. 

PTE scores will not be harmed because you will be given 20 challenges in total, which is ample. Even if you make a mistake in one, you will have enough chances to make up for it throughout the test. Finally, because Duolingo is an adaptive exam, the difficulty of the questions will alter based on the candidate's performance, thus scores are guaranteed to increase.

Assume your primary aim is to obtain the lowest possible score. In such a scenario, you may utilise PTE and Duolingo because they are simple, as already described. Yet, if you actually want to develop and enhance your English language abilities, feel up to the challenge, and add another skill set to your portfolio, IELTS and TOEFL are always better options than Duolingo and PTE. As a result, your objective defines which exam to take.

How Long Can You Wait? 

The IELTS has the longest wait period of any English language proficiency exam, at 13 days, because the results are assigned by the test centres and the test designer, Cambridge University. Similarly, you must wait 2 to 5 days for your PTE results, and the TOEFL wait time is 6 to 10 days. Duolingo has the smallest wait period, which ranges from 24 to 72 hours. Hence, if you want speedy results, Duolingo is the way to go.

Expensive vs Cheap: What is Your Preference? 

When we discuss the cost element, we are referring to the exam as well as the cancellation and postponement costs. In terms of exam fees alone, in 2023, paper-based IELTS and computer-based IELTS costs INR 16,250. Similarly, TOEFL is USD 190, IELTS is USD 198, and Duolingo is USD 49. If you cancel or postpone the IELTS test within 5 weeks of the exam, the IELTS test facility will refund you after a 25% cost reduction. Similarly, if you cancel your booking four days before the exam, TOEFL facilities will reimburse 50% of your money. If you cancel your PTE test 7 days before the exam date, you will be reimbursed 50% of your money. As a result, when selecting the right test, be sure to include a cost calculation.

In conclusion, it makes no difference whether you take the IELTS Academic, TOEFL, PTE Academic, or Duolingo. They are all excellent English proficiency exams that give students the opportunity to study abroad at their desired university. Last but not least, you can begin preparing for any English skill exam whenever you want if you have the desire and determination to work hard and prepare for the exam.

If you are still in doubt about which English proficiency examination you should take, you can contact our experts at and get to know all the detail about all types of study abroad exams.

Know Which English Proficiency Exam is Accepted by Your Dream University!


Which one is more difficult: IELTS Academic or PTE Academic?

It can be said that IELTS Academic is more difficult than PTE Academic. The speaking section of the IELTS exam is completed face-to-face with an examiner. In contrast, you are conversing with a computer during the PTE exam. Many people who are prone to anxiety consider this to be a less demanding option. Another consideration is that the PTE exam is marginally shorter than the IELTS and can be viewed as easier as a result.

Which is easy - TOEFL or IELTS?

Both, the TOEFL and IELTS exams are considered equally tough except for the Reading section of both exams. When compared to the TOEFL reading section, the IELTS reading section is regarded as being significantly simpler. In contrast to the IELTS essay, which is 250 words long, the TOEFL essay is 300 words long. So, in terms of the reading component of the TOEFL, you will need to study more diligently.

Which is easier: PTE Academic or Duolingo English Test (DET)?

It can be said that Duolingo English Test (DET) is easier than PTE Academic. In contrast to the Duolingo speaking test, which asks you to describe a picture, the PTE speaking module consists of 11–17 questions on the candidate's personal life. Given that it is an online test, Duolingo is a more convenient and easier test than PTE. A Duolingo score between 135 to 140 is regarded as excellent. In contrast, a PTE score between 83 to 85 is seen as being very good.

Which exam should I take IELTS or TOEFL or PTE?

You should take IELTS or TOEFL or PTE depending upon their acceptability in different countries or where you wish to study abroad. IELTS tends to favour British or Australian English, but TOEFL and PTE tend to favour American English. While the TOEFL is better accepted in American universities, the IELTS is more likely to be accepted in Europe and Australia.

Which is easier: TOEFL or IELTS or Duolingo or PTE?

Overall, it can be said that Duolingo and PTE are easier than TOEFL and IELTS. Both IELTS and TOEFL are harder to score than PTE and Duolingo in terms of difficulty level. Comparatively more persistent practice and preparation are needed for IELTS and TOEFL. On the other hand, Duolingo is easier than PTE Academic.

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