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Hearing in Noise Test (HINT)

Photo of a young man with headphones being placed on his ears for a hearing test

The Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) is a speech discrimination test that helps determine how well someone can understand speech in quiet and in background noise. Per the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) guidelines, applicants with abnormal results on a hearing test must take the HINT. You can find these guidelines and more information here:

https://post.ca.gov/portals/0/post_docs/publications/medical-screening-manual/Hearing.pdf

Both versions of the HINT (unaided and aided) are offered on Thursdays and Fridays, pending audiologist availability. The unaided test (if you do not wear hearing aids) lasts about 45 minutes and the aided test (if you do wear hearing aids) lasts about 90 minutes. Your department will let you know which test you must take. Please read these frequently asked questions for the appropriate test for you. HINT testing is only available at our Downtown L.A. office. The phone number for appointments is (213) 483-9930.

Unaided HINT – For people who DO NOT wear hearing aids

Q: I don’t understand why I’m taking the HINT; I hear other people just fine. Do I really need to do this?

A: It is not uncommon to have a minimal hearing loss and still need to take the HINT. The HINT can determine what kind of impact the hearing loss might have for you, even if you feel your hearing is fine.

Q: How can I prepare for the HINT?

A: There is no way to prepare/study for the test but it is recommended that you avoid loud noises (concerts, noisy bars, power tools, etc.) for at least 24 hours prior to taking the test.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: You must bring the following:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Your most recent hearing test
  • The letter you received requiring you to take the HINT.

If your hearing test is older than 30 days at the time of the appointment, we will need to have your hearing retested at your visit. Please be aware that this hearing test, if necessary, would have an additional charge.

Q: How long does the test take?

A: The test can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. We ask that you arrive at the clinic 20 minutes prior to your appointment to fill out paperwork. That way, we can start on time.

Q: I have hearing loss in only one ear. Do I still need to take the HINT?

A: POST guidelines indicate that applicants who have atypical hearing must take the HINT. If you have hearing loss in one ear only, it is still required that you take the HINT. Depending on the severity, your hearing loss could have a significant impact on your hearing abilities on the job. Your employer will decide whether you must take the HINT.

Q: When will I get the results? How do I know if I passed or failed?

A: We will be able to print the results right away and share them with you. In order to get a passing score, you must pass all four listening conditions of the test. Our audiologists will explain the results to you in person and whether you passed or failed.

Q: Can you send the results directly to my department?

A: Yes, we can send the results after you have signed a release form here at the clinic. If you give us a fax number or an email address, we can forward your HINT results to your department or the physician reviewing your hiring application. This will require you to sign an authorization form to release information to a third party. We will give you the original copy of the results, in case there is any difficulty sending the documents via fax or email.

Q: How much does the test cost? Does insurance cover the HINT?

A: The unaided HINT will cost $150, whether you pass or fail. If you require a new hearing test (see above), that would cost an additional $86. We do not bill insurance for the HINT or the associated hearing test. You must pay for the test at the time of your appointment. If your department will reimburse you for the test, you must speak with them outside of your visit to our clinic.

Aided HINT – For people who DO wear hearing aids

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: You must bring:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • The letter you received requiring you to take the HINT.
  • Your hearing aids
  • Your hearing aid fitting report

View a sample of the hearing aid fitting report. Please take a look at the images to make sure you bring the right document. If you bring the incorrect document, you will not be allowed to take the test. Please ensure that your hearing aids are working properly prior to the test.

Q: What is the hearing aid fitting report? Why do I need it?

A: The hearing aid fitting report is a document that explains how the hearing aids were programmed for your hearing loss. Our audiologists need to verify this information and make sure the sound is appropriate, otherwise we cannot proceed with the test. Your report should include your name, the date of the last adjustment to the hearing aids, the make/model/serial number of your hearing aids, and the volume output at each pitch/frequency. It may also contain your previous hearing test results.

Q: What happens during the test? How long does it take?

A: The aided HINT is a two-part test. The first part has four listening conditions and the second part has three conditions. You will need to pass all seven conditions for an overall passing score. If you fail one or more of the first four conditions, we will not proceed to the next portion and you will only be charged for the first portion of the test. You can expect the full test to take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. We ask that you arrive 20 minutes prior to your appointment to fill out paperwork, so that we may start on time.

Q: What is the cost of the HINT? Does insurance pay for it?

A: The first portion of the HINT costs $250, whether or not you pass. If the second portion is attempted (see above), the total cost is $375, whether or not you pass. If you do not make it to the second portion, you will only be billed $250. We do not bill insurance for the HINT. You must pay for the test at the time of your appointment. If your department will reimburse you for the test, you must speak with them outside of your visit to House Clinic.

Q: Should I bring my old hearing aids?

A: You should only bring the hearing aid or pair of hearing aids that you are currently wearing, along with the fitting report from your audiologist/hearing aid provider. Be sure that your hearing aid fitting report matches the current settings on your hearing aids.

Q: I just started wearing hearing aids. When can I take the HINT?

A: If you have never worn hearing aids before now, then you will need to wait 30 days before taking the HINT. All new users must spend at least 30 days with no adjustments to the hearing aids before being eligible to take the test. For example, if your hearing aids were last adjusted on January 1st, you can only take the test on or after January 31st. If you have any changes during this time, the 30 days will start over.

Q: I’ve worn hearing aids my whole life. When can I take the HINT?

A: If you are an experienced hearing aid user, you only need to wait 14 days after your most recent adjustment before taking the test. This gives your brain enough time to adapt to the new settings before taking the HINT.

Q: I have Lyric hearing aids. Can I still take the HINT?

A: If you wear Lyric hearing aids, you can still take the HINT. However, at some point our audiologists will need to remove the device from your ear and will not be able to replace it. You would then need to return to your audiologist/hearing aid provider to have new ones placed sometime after your HINT appointment.

Q: (I wear just one hearing aid) or (I wear a CROS/BiCROS hearing aid). Do I need to take a different test?

A: The aided HINT is the same for anyone wearing one or two hearing aids or a CROS system. Please follow all of these guidelines just the same.

Q: When will I get the results? How do I know if I passed or failed?

A: We will be able to print the results right away and share them with you. In order to get a passing score, you must pass all seven listening conditions of the test (four conditions for the first portion, three conditions for the second portion). Our audiologists will explain the results to you in person and whether you passed or failed.

Q: Can you send the results directly to my department?

A: Yes, we can send the results after you have signed a release form here at the clinic. If you give us a fax number or an email address, we can forward your HINT results to your department or the physician reviewing your hiring application. This will require you to sign an authorization form to release information to a third party. We will give you the original copy of the results, in case there is any difficulty sending the documents via fax or email.

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