Here’s an example of some fairly effective marketing from Duolingo. 


The UCLA student in the video says of the Duolingo English Test:

“I didn’t have to travel halfway across the city to go find a test spot. I didn’t have to book a test spot. The website didn’t crash on me. And it was definitely more affordable. I didn’t have to buy really expensive test material. I didn’t have to pay a whole bank account for me to buy a spot for me to take the test. I thought it was just one of those things that also had results that came really quickly and that was also super great so I think for me the DET was just this amalgamation of the best of everything that could happen for test taking for me.”

In thirty seconds the video hits on most of the things test-takers care about nowadays:

“I didn’t have to pay a whole bank account.”

Fees for taking so-called “legacy tests” have increased dramatically in the past few years.  Test-takers in some countries faced price hikes TWICE in 2023.  The decline of most currencies against the USD makes things more challenging. In conversation, some executives at testing firms have expressed skepticism that price is a factor when students pick an English test.  But it is.

“It was definitely more affordable. I didn’t have to buy really expensive test material.”

Speaking of affordability, many students in 2024 really don’t want to invest heavily in test prep and there is a perception that legacy tests require test-takers to spend quite a lot of money in order to get a score that matches their actual aptitude with the language. Test makers may be reinforcing this belief each time they unveil a new suite of costly preparation products.  This has been a through line in standardized testing since before I was born and with old monopolies dissolving it is now an issue in language testing.

“The website didn’t crash on me.”

Many test-takers really, really, really want to test at home. That said, some of them fear that at-home testing from legacy test providers is clunky and prone to technical problems. They also worry that if a failure occurs they will be on the hook financially for the failure.

I haven’t even mentioned the elimination of travel time or quick test results.

Anyway, that line at the end – “the amalgamation of the best of everything” – is marketing done well. Really really well.

Again, I want to emphasize that I love the legacy tests.  These posts are just an attempt to explain changes in the market that have occurred over the past four years.

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