Learning or winning?
I’m on day 26 and I’m up to 1900 words. I don’t think a genius (which I definitely am not) could commit that many words to memory that fast. I can read much easier that I can speak. So I can’t really tell, am I learning or just winning?
The words are what you have seen in the course. If doesn’t mean that you necessarily remember them right now, it just means that when you practice a lesson, you will see those words. Most adult people will know about 20,000 to 35,000 words in thier native language by the time they’re middle-aged so in comparison 1,900 isn’t very much. Also keep in mind that some words might be another word conjugated differently or a different version of another word (i.e, a female animal that’s normally grammatically male).
Only you would know if you were actively learning or not. And, I would not call it "beating Duolingo". From what you're explaining, it seems you can recall words that were not necessarily retained in your long-term memory. However, you had "learned" (or have simply been exposed to) words in your target language. I cannot define that as learning or not, since I'm not an expert on how your brain works. You mostly likely did learn if you are able to read a foreign text fairly easy. But again, I can't make a clear determination.