Types of Tests Used to Evaluate Hearing in Children and Adults

man sitting for hearing test

Our hearing is a precious resource. We have to make sure that we look after it to the best of our ability. But also, we have to be aware that our children need to protect their hearing as well. If you are ever concerned about your children’s hearing, or you feel that you need to double-check if your hearing is in peak condition, going to an audiologist for a hearing test is the best way to give you peace of mind. An audiologist will conduct a number of hearing tests, so let’s show you the different types they perform. 

Pure-Tone Testing

Also known as pure-tone audiometry, this type of test will measure your ability to hear sounds at numerous pitches and volumes. The test consists of you, or your child being asked to wear headphones, sitting in a specially designed booth while a series of sounds are played through headphones. Every time you or your child hears a certain tone, you will be asked to either press a button or raise your hand. 

Bone Conduction Testing

This type of pure-tone test will measure your inner ears’ response to sounds. A conductor is placed behind your ear which sends tiny vibrations through the bone into the inner ear, which is different from pure-tone testing, which uses air to send sounds. This type of test is used to determine your or your child’s type of hearing loss. 

Speech Testing

The speech reception threshold (SRT) is the measurement of the latest speech that you can understand 50% of the time. This tests your or your child’s abilities to separate speech from any background noise and can be administered in either a noisy or quiet environment. 


This is a test to determine how well your or your child’s eardrum moves. An audiologist will place a small device into the ear canal, which pushes air into the ear causing the eardrum to move back and forth. This test will determine if there is an issue with the eardrum, such as fluid or wax build-up or any damage in the eardrum such as a hole. While this test is commonly conducted in adults, it is not traditionally used on very young children since it requires your child to sit very still.  

Acoustic Reflex Testing

This is a test that measures any muscle contractions within the inner ear. Acoustic reflex testing is also known as middle ear muscle reflex (MEMR). In normal hearing, a tiny muscle inside your ear will tighten when you hear loud noises. The audiologist places a soft rubber tip inside the ear and plays a number of loud sounds through the tip. If your hearing loss is particularly severe, the sound may have to be very loud to trigger any form of reflex. 

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

This type of test is used to determine whether you or your child has a specific type of hearing loss known as sensorineural hearing loss. It is frequently used to test for hearing problems in newborns. The test consists of electrodes being attached to the head, earlobes or scalp, with headphones to wear and the brain wave activity is measured in how it responds to various sounds. 

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

These are sounds generated by the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. This type of test involves your audiologist using a tiny probe with a microphone and a speaker which serves to stimulate the cochlea and measure the response. Any individual with normal hearing will produce emissions from the cochlea, and this test will determine if there is either a blockage in the ear canal or damage to the hair cells in the cochlea.

What Do I Or My Child Need to Do to Prepare for A Hearing Test? 

There are no special preparations for any hearing test, and there are no risks to having a hearing test. The results will show if you or your child are experiencing hearing loss and if the hearing loss is either conductive or sensorineural. If you or your child is determined to conquer hearing loss, there are a number of treatments, for example hearing aids. 

If you have any additional questions about the types of hearing tests we use, you can get in contact with Flynn Associates at Concord: (978) 759-3540 or Wellesley: (781) 943-5040 and we will be more than happy to provide you with more information.