Resource | 16.06.2023 | By Imran Mulla

5.2. Toy based testing

McCormick Toy Test

The McCormick Toy Test is widely used in clinics and hospitals as an effective way of identifying hearing difficulties in young children.

The McCormick Toy Test uses 14 paired words, which are generally recognised by children from an early age. Each word in the list has a matching item in the set and a paired item with a similar vowel or diphthong, but differing consonants.

These are the words used:

  • TREE – KEY
  • DUCK – CUP
  • MAN – LAMB


The child is asked to identify each toy and any that are not identified are removed from the test. The child is placed in front of the toys and asked to “Show me the…”. This is requested at differing sound levels, and a child with normal hearing should be able to discriminate between items at a listening level of 40 dBA (decibel A scale). The criterion for passing this test is when a child gives four correct responses out of five requests. Current recommendations are that any child who cannot pass the test at 40 dBA should be referred to a specialist audiology centre.

This test is also available as the Parrot automated test, consisting of the hardware and software needed to complete the tests. It has the advantage of a standardised voice, allowing meaningful comparisons over time. The Parrotplus and Parrotplus2 are updated versions of this.

The Phoenix is a more complex automated test based on the Toy Test. It can also perform speech in noise testing and warble tone.

Age range: Over two years of age.

Who can use it? An audiologist, QToD, or educational audiologist.


  • It is simple to use.
  • Children like the toys.
  • Parents and teachers can immediately see the natural confusion that can arise when a child has a slight hearing difficulty.
  • There’s also an additional toy test available for children who speak English as an additional language (EAL).
  • The McCormick Toy Test is one of the tests that can be used on automated speech systems such as the Parrot.


  • Children need to know the toys by name so may need pre-teaching.
  • The assessment needs to be carried out in acoustically treated settings.T
  • The Parrot, Parrotplus, and Phoenix systems are all expensive and heavy to carry to different locations.

Is there a cost?


Where can I access it?

You can access the assessment on the Soundbyte Solutions website.

For more information:

BATOD Audiology Refresher (2009 publication) – Speech discrimination for the under-fives

Soundbyte Solutions The Phoenix Automated McCormick Toy Discrimination Tester

Soundbytes Solutions McCormick toy test

Soundbytes Solutions McCormick toy test scoresheet


Next pages in this section

5.3 Picture based testing

5.4 Single word testing

5.5 Sentence testing

5.6 Automated tests

5.7 Parent/guardian reports (under construction)

5.8 Teacher reports (under construction)

5.9 Children and young people reports  (under construction)

Previous page in this section

5.1 Sound based testing

Other sections