UCLA Optional Duolingo English Test

Sounds like some international applicants are getting a request from UCLA (and apparently other UCs) for an English assessment (Duolingo English Test), in addition to the submitted TOEFL score. This is an independent assessment likely targeting Asian students due to the pervasive cheating from the region.

In case you are not aware, the UCs were hit with a huge cheating scandal that ended up in a Reuters investigative reporting piece in 2016. Berkeley was the first campus to take action, selectively interviewing transfer applicants through a third-party vendor, InitialView ($220), starting in 2016. UCLA followed suit in 2017, sending out requests to selected applicants to take the optional Duolingo English Test. The assessment was likely meant to serve as verification that the high TOEFL score (which most recipients of the request seemed to have had back in 2017) was legitimate and not bought.

Even though this is fairly new (but UCLA has updated its admissions page for international students to mention the optional test), it’s possible that the verification is triggered automatically when a specific flag is detected (hard to say what UCLA is looking for; perhaps history showed that students with a certain range of TOEFL scores were more likely to have hired a test taker?). While not required, I do recommend that students take the assessment to put UCLA at ease regarding their English proficiency.


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