When you have a hearing test, you audiologist will actually carry out several different tests. Each test is designed to check the function of a different part of your ear and how well you can hear different things. Using a number of tests helps to create a more comprehensive picture of the health of your ears and your hearing. After you have had these tests, your audiologist can sit down with you right away to discuss the results. Take a look at some of the tests that your audiologist can perform.

Ear examination

Your audiologist will usually begin by conducting a physical examination of your ears, or an otoscopy. They will look at your outer ear and ear canal to see if there are any physical problems. During this exam, they will look for any injuries or blemishes, as well as using an otoscope to look at the ear canal and ear drum. By shining a light on your ear drum, the audiologist can check how the light is reflected, which is an indication of its health.


An audiometry test is when the audiologist uses different sounds to check how well you can hear. You will usually wear headphones, earphones or sometimes bone-conduction headband. The sensitivity of your hearing at different frequencies will be tested and the results are shown on a type of graph called an audiogram. You will be asked to push a button when you hear a sound.

Speech testing

Being able to understand speech is one of the most important things for your hearing. You need to be able to hear yourself and other people to maintain your quality of life. Speech testing involves the patient repeating words that they are played at normal speech levels and without any background noise. Testing your understanding of speech can give you a more accurate picture of your hearing and possible hearing aid needs.


A tympanometry test checks the function of your eardrum (tympanic membrane). This is done by varying the pressure in your ear to see how your eardrum responds and how well it moves. It only takes a few minutes to do and it doesn't hurt. There's nothing that the person being tested needs to do, either. The audiologist carries out the test and records the results.

Acoustic reflexes

Acoustic reflex testing looks at how well the eardrum protects you from loud noises. When a loud noise occurs, the eardrum should stiffen. Acoustic reflex testing looks at how well the stapedius muscle functions, which contracts in response to a loud sound. This is often performed at the same time as the tympanometry, with beeps getting progressively louder.

Distortion product otoacoustic emissions

DPOAE testing checks the functioning of the outer hairs of the cochlea. The hairs produce sounds called otoacoustic emissions, and these are measured by playing clicks into the ear. Some types of hearing loss will means that these sounds don't occur.

After testing, the audiologist will sit down with you to talk about the results of the test. They will also discuss whether you might benefit from hearing aids and can demonstrate some options.