Queen’s accepts language-learning platform Duolingo as proof of English proficiency

University using Duolingo to expand language requirement options during COVID-19, extends out-of-province application deadline

The Duolingo English Test can be accessed online, allowing applicants to write the test from home.

As Queen’s continues to pursue enrollment targets for the 2020-21 year, the University is now accepting the Duolingo English Test (DET) to fulfill English proficiency requirements for incoming students. 

Duolingo, the popular language-learning platform that created the DET, is now a language certification option accepted by more than 2000 colleges and universities in a recent effort to expand its service. The DET costs $49 to complete and can be accessed online, allowing applicants to write the test from home.

“[The University] continually reviews new curriculum and language tests as a standard part of our business,” Chris Coupland, acting executive director of Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment, wrote in a statement to The Journal.

Queen’s, an English-speaking institution, requires students to provide proof of proficiency before applying to the University if they have lived in a country within the three most recent years where English is not the primary language.  

The language requirement can be waived if students meet other criteria, including completing an IB diploma or attending an educational institution where English is the language of instruction.

Prior to accepting the DET, the University had only accepted the International English Language Testing System (EILTS), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) as proof of English proficiency. The cost of these tests ranges from $285 to $319 per attempt.

Students can also opt to complete a 12-week course at the Queen’s School of English to meet the language requirement.

However, final assessments for these options must be evaluated at on-site test centre locations. During COVID-19, these options have become inconvenient for applicants and could delay the student admission process. 

According to Coupland, each of the approved tests is reviewed in consultation with the Queen’s School of English. The DET has been approved to meet their standards in assessing a student’s English language proficiency and will continue to be accepted after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The test is administered using computer adaptive technology, meaning that the question difficulty adapts to each test taker,” Coupland wrote.

He added that another area of convenience is the DET’s promptness in sharing test results with applicants.  

“The entire test experience takes just under an hour and is available online, on demand,” Coupland wrote. “[R]esults are certified within 48 hours and can be shared with an unlimited number of institutions.”

As part of easing the application process for incoming students, the University has also extended the out-of-province application deadline to June 1 to match the new deadline set by the Ontario University Application Centre (OUAC) for students in Ontario.

“Students who came from outside of Ontario would normally have had until May 1 to accept their offer,” Coupland wrote. 

While the University remains uncertain about whether classes will resume on campus or continue remotely in the fall, Coupland said Queen’s is committed to making the transition process as smooth as possible for incoming students. 

“We continue to actively engage with prospective members of our community and are excited to welcome the Class of 2024,” he wrote.  


This article was updated to correct the spelling of Chris Coupland's name.

The Journal regrets the error.

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