Like most high-stakes exams, the Duolingo English Test has strict rules—and there can be serious consequences for breaking them. With the freedom to test on demand comes the added responsibility of managing your own test environment, and we know that taking a high-stakes exam from home is new for a lot of people! So why are the rules so important, and how can you avoid breaking them?

The rules are there for a reason

Rules are an important way we ensure that people around the world taking the test from their personal computers are being assessed according to the same circumstances. The purpose of the DET is to assess English proficiency, and true proficiency means you can use the language in any setting, without any support, and without needing to memorize or prepare anything in advance. So, to certify that your score is a valid assessment of your proficiency, our proctors need to be sure the language you use to respond to items on the test comes from you, and no one else.

A test taker on a computer screen surrounded by floating items. From the top left: A speech bubble, a paper airplane, pencils and a phone.

That’s why you must be alone in the room for the duration of the test session, with your ears visible and your eyes focused on the screen. It’s also why you cannot have external programs, dual monitors, or predictive text software running during the test, and why we check to make sure you aren’t using template responses you’ve memorized in advance. If we detect any one of these behaviors, we may assume you’ve cheated on the DET and we can no longer be certain your score was validly obtained.

What if I break a rule without meaning to?

A moving gif of a test taker sitting at a desk. He is distracted when a child's head pops up next to him. Behind him, a door opens and a woman's head pops out. He shakes his head and the door closes behind him. A yellow check mark appears in the top right corner once the distraction is eliminated.

We know that people make mistakes, and that sometimes, a test taker may break a rule unintentionally. If something happens to prevent us from certifying your score, you’ll receive notice that the test session was invalidated, and, in most cases, you’ll have another chance to take the test, at no additional cost. And, if you believe your session was invalidated in error, you may have the option to appeal your result.

Making a mistake is one thing—dishonesty is another. The DET is a high-stakes exam, and we take test security very seriously. If you intentionally cheat on the DET, such as consulting outside sources, speaking to another person during the exam, or having someone else take the test in your name, you will not be permitted to take the test again.

Be ready to test your best

The consequences for cheating are serious, but don’t stress! If you’re taking the test in good faith, you have nothing to worry about. The best way to ensure you follow the rules is to familiarize yourself with them in advance: Read the readiness guide, check out our Youtube channel, or take a practice test, so you’ll know what to expect.