Online Hearing Tests: Are They Reliable and Effective?

Online hearing tests are everywhere, but can you trust them? Read our latest article to find out how accurate online hearing tests are and much more!

Nicole Brener
Nicole Brener
Online Hearing Tests: Are They Reliable and Effective?

Can you trust online hearing tests? You've probably seen them; they are everywhere. There are apps that promise hearing test results, online quizzes and questionnaires, online hearing tests you can do with your headphones, and ones that don't even require headphones. 

Their accuracy is up for debate.

What is an online hearing test?

An online hearing test aims to measure your hearing capacity with the goal of indicating if you have hearing loss.

Most audiologists are sceptical of online hearing tests, and with good reason. Factors such as clogged ears with earwax, ear infections, and even honest self-assessment may affect the accuracy of online hearing tests, making them unreliable for determining the degree of hearing loss (if any).

The best way to find out if you have hearing loss is to visit an audiologist and get a baseline hearing test by undergoing a proper hearing screening that can help you understand how mild or severe your hearing loss is and the type of loss you have, and treatment options.

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What does an in-clinic hearing test entail?

A woman in a sound proof room wearing headphones during an in-clinic hearing test.

An in-clinic hearing test involves a medical evaluation and occurs in a sound-treated room. It starts with an otoscopy to examine the ear. Next, the audiologist sets you up with headphones that go over the ear or inserts earphones that go in your ear.

The first part of the test involves listening for the softest sounds you can hear and pressing a button to signify you heard them. During the test, the specialist also looks into bone conduction. For this, you'll be required to wear a special headband behind your ear and again will be listening to those beeping sounds.

The hearing specialist or audiologist will proceed to read the results of the test and determine the degree of hearing loss as well as personalized treatment options and recommendations. 

Conducting this examination, including the physical examination and tone testing, can pose limitations when done online. Instead, we can use online hearing tests as a screener or baseline to potentially discover hearing loss.

Are online hearing tests accurate?

Following the instructions closely is important for the online test to be as accurate as possible. For example, most online hearing tests require finding a quiet room and proper headphones. However, the quality of the headphones is also important. Headphones like AirPods or Bose deliver proper sound quality to yield more accurate results.

What are the different types of online hearing tests?

Frequency test

Frequency hearing tests involve playing a low-frequency sound up to a high-frequency sound. These types of hearing tests can provide an age range for your ears, telling you how old they are. This makes them very popular online, with promotional clickbait like “Find out how old your ears are.” However, this online hearing test fails to take into account the cochlea shape, and for this, it lacks accuracy.

Pure tone test

This hearing test plays a series of beeps, and you'll pick the softest sound. This is probably the closest to a true audiogram, measuring your hearing sensitivity across a range of sensitivities.  

Speech and noise

This test will play background noise, and you will try to decipher spoken words or numbers. This online hearing test is useful to gain an understanding of how well you can hear in noisy environments, but while it provides useful metrics, it's not enough to determine if you need hearing aids.


In conclusion, online hearing tests are good starting points for people who might suspect hearing loss or would like to assess their hearing health. It might give you a sense of whether you have a problem, but it won't tell you much more.

The pure tone test is an online hearing test with the potential to provide a better idea of whether you have some degree of hearing loss. However, it's still advisable to visit an audiologist and perform an in-clinic hearing test to determine your hearing health.

Nicole Brener

Copywriter based in Miami, FL. Leads copywriting workshops and mentors women entrepreneurs at the Idea Center of Miami Dade College.

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