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Are Free Online Hearing Tests a Scam?

It’s easy to see why people love free online hearing tests. Aside from the free aspect, you can do it at home, it usually only takes a few minutes, is relatively easy to do, and is very discreet with minimal human interaction. But are these tests real? Do they really evaluate your hearing for free? And are the results actually accurate? We break down these questions and more in this post.

Why is it free?

Any time you see something for free when it usually costs money, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. Ask yourself, “Why is it free”? If someone else is successfully charging money, why is this person or website giving this away for free? You’ll find that most of the time, there is a very apparent reason. It’s often one of two things - it’s very low quality and you ‘get what you paid for’, or it’s used to indirectly acquire something else. With free hearing tests, most of the time it will be one of the two, if not both. Either it will be super simple and a waste of time, or it will push you into buying hearing aids or prompt you to pay for the results. This is often the same problem with in-person free hearing tests too, especially if the company sells hearing aids. The main exception to this would be government or charity websites that genuinely want to help, but unfortunately, they are affected by some of the next points we discuss.

Entry Level Testing

Simply put, it’s impossible to do a full hearing test online. Even if a website were to invest in a complicated enough system that could offer a detailed evaluation of your hearing health (which 99% of websites will not do), a comprehensive hearing test requires very specific equipment that cannot be replicated at home. Instead, online tests focus on a pure-tone air-conduction threshold test, which essentially grades your hearing based on the quietest sound you can hear. According to earLAB, hearing tests by a trained audiologist would test your speech and word recognition, how sound moves through your ear canal, your comfortable listening levels and even how you respond to sudden loud noises. Just analyzing through sounds you can hear is barely scraping the surface of what is required for a true assessment.

Inaccurate Results

Due to the limited testing, your results can be inaccurate. Additionally, your home setup and surrounding environment may affect your results too. This includes low-quality headphones, poor computer volume, sound issues, loud outside sounds, surrounding distractions, and plenty more. An in-person test ensures that you use the same equipment as everyone else, ensuring a consistent and accurate result. Additionally, the room will often be distraction-free and noise-canceling, which ensures nothing will tamper with the final result.

Lack of Context

Online hearing tests cannot add context to your lack of hearing. While your ears may be struggling due to hearing loss, it’s possible that it could be something else entirely. Your ears need to be checked first, to ensure there are no looming issues that are preventing you from hearing. As an example, blocked ears can cause muffled hearing. An online test cannot check to see if your ears are filled with earwax, so it will assume this muffled hearing is an indicator of hearing loss, and will most likely suggest you invest in hearing aids. So instead of a $100 quick fix, you’re now spending thousands of dollars on something you don’t need and won’t help with the problem.

Some Simply Don’t Work

Unfortunately, some online hearing tests simply don’t work. Whether they give you a rough and basic answer based on a few yes or no questions, or they tell every single user the same answer, it’s unavoidable that people can (and will) lie on the internet. Some websites want to offer this free solution, whether it’s to increase their sales, get your email address, or simply win your trust, but they don’t want to put in the hard work of making something that actually works. You could have crystal-clear hearing, and be told that you’re almost deaf. It’s very difficult to figure out which websites are trustworthy since there are hardly any community-driven review websites for free online hearing tests, and they will rarely let you leave a comment or review on their website.


So ultimately when you’re looking for a hearing test, you need to ask yourself how much your hearing is really worth to you. If you need something quick and easy that gives a basic overview of your hearing, then find a government or charity website with nothing to gain. If you need a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing health, you should book an appointment with a trained audiologist.

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