Translation:The students are reading their exams.
24 Comments This discussion is locked.
Don't get hung up. If you cant stand the phrase "reading their exams", just replace the object with palabras, libros, periódicos, letras, cartas, revistas, diarios, or something else you would rather read. It's just an exercise. Subject noun, verb phrase, possessive pronoun, object noun.
The verb ending -ndo is used when something is going on at the exact moment.
Ellos están leyendo thus means they are reading right now.
Ellos leen means that they are reading in a more general way, for example you could say ellos leen muchos libros en los veranos (they read a lot of books in the summers). In this case you do not use the -ndo ending because it is something that doesn´t happen right at the moment.
"Leen" is present simple tense, and literally translates to "The students read their exams."
"Están leyendo" is present progressive, and literally translates to "The students are reading their exams."
So, you can use either, and sometimes Duolingo shows a progressive translation for present simple - it's just not a literal translation. I was taught that, like in English, present simple is usually used for habitual actions (I eat cereal for breakfast every day), whereas present progressive is for what is happening in that moment (I'm eating cereal right now).