Need to take the CASPer for medical school? Read on to learn more about the CASPer exam format, how it’s scored, and more!
Some medical schools require the CASPer exam as part of your medical school application. But what exactly is the CASPer? Many medical schools ask for CASPer test results to round out a student’s application.
We’re here to provide you with everything you need to know about the exam. You’ll learn the CASPer’s purpose, format, and how admissions committees use the results.
The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a form of situational judgment test (SJT) run and developed by Altus Assessments Inc. The psychological test presents realistic, hypothetical scenarios which you must answer questions about.
You’ll be asked how you would handle the situation and explain your reasoning. The CASPer test is designed to analyze your behavioral tendencies, specifically, how an individual behaves in situations and how they translate their knowledge, which determines the effectiveness of the responses.
This behavioral analysis style is similar to what you find in the MMI (multiple-mini interview) med school interview format.
You want to register for the CASPer at least three days before your preferred test date. It takes time for the system to process your payment and verify your identity, so don’t wait until the last minute to register. If you require accommodations, you should complete your registration for the CASPer at least three weeks before the test date.
To register for a CASPer test, you must create a CASPer account with the following:
You’ll be recorded throughout the first section, which is why a working webcam is required. This is to ensure you’re not cheating in any way. You can take the CASPer test once per admissions cycle. Remember, all fees are final and non-refundable, so ensure you register for the correct CASPer exam for your region.
The CASPer test’s purpose is to ensure students aren’t just academically capable but behaviorally qualified to succeed in the medical profession. While the MCAT puts your education to the test, the CASPer centers around whether you have the characteristics of someone who would make an excellent physician.
Therefore, applicants can demonstrate their people skills early in the application process, giving them a better chance of receiving an interview invitation.
The CASPer test assesses the following behavioral characteristics:
Your CASPer’s purpose is to assess your soft skills.
The CASPer test format has some updates! The new version is made up of 14 scenarios that are divided into two sections:
Each of the video-response scenarios are followed by two open-ended questions, and the word-based scenarios are followed by three questions. You have one minute to record each of your video responses, and five minutes total to type your three written responses. This means you’ll need to be quick on your feet with your answers and type them quickly.
CASPer now provides an optional 10-minute break between questions and another optional five minute break midway through the typed response section. The CASPer test takes approximately 90 to 110 minutes to complete.
Ensure you give complete answers because you can’t review them at the end. A different person grades each section, and once the exam has been scored, it’s sent to the programs you selected. You won’t receive your score, nor will you have access to it.
Each school sets its own criteria, so a score considered high for one school might not be as high for another.
Word-based questions provide a scenario, and the student must respond to the accompanying questions. Let’s look at an example from a previous edition of the CASPer:
You are a physician on duty at the local ER. A 'scruffy' looking middle aged man, dressed in sweatpants and an old sweater walks in complaining of severe back pain. While taking the history, the man kept insisting that the only thing that helps his pain is a very strong painkiller. A nurse quietly tells you that this gentleman frequently visits the hospital and gets prescribed painkillers.
1. What is going through your mind right now?
2. What should you do in this situation?
3. How would you handle the patient if he kept insisting on getting prescribed painkillers?
These questions ask you to use your problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities to come to a conclusion. You want to discuss how you reached your conclusion, the action you would take, and why. Here is another form of a word-based question:
Think of a time when you had to make a sacrifice in order to accomplish a goal.
This is a broader statement that requires the applicant to discuss a moment in their life, expand upon it, and how it has affected them. Broader questions aren’t as geared towards critical thinking and reasoning as the other example. Rather, this pulls from your experiences to get a better understanding of who you are.
Video-based questions offer a short clip to watch, followed by questions to respond to. When you watch some examples of previous video-based questions on the CASPer test, you’ll see that each one varies to gauge your behavioral characteristics stated earlier.
Unlike other tests where you receive a clear score, your CASPer score is relative to the scores of other test-takers. CASPer scores are divided into quartiles:
A score in the 1st or 2nd quartile doesn’t mean you “failed;” it just means your responses weren’t as strong as other candidates who took the test.
Many programs have begun incorporating new tools, such as the CASPer test, to ensure students have the necessary soft skills and behavioral characteristics to succeed.
Research shows that CASPer is reliable and predicts future success in medical school, so test scores give programs meaningful information about their applicants.
For applicants, the CASPer is advantageous because it enables you to demonstrate your people skills earlier in the admissions process. Programs receive thousands of applications, making it challenging to stand out.
Completing the CASPer exam gives programs insight into your behavioral characteristics before the holistic review and interview phase. You’re allowing the admissions committees to make a more informed decision on your application.
Although it’s challenging to “study” for the CASPer test (since it’s based on your behavior and ethics), there are different ways you can prepare for the exam. You can better prepare yourself for the CASPer by:
The best way to get more comfortable with CASPer test content is to work with practice questions.
Still have questions about the CASPer test for medical school? Read on to have your burning questions answered.
Many MD and DO programs require applicants to take the CASPer exam. You should check program requirements to determine if this test is required.
Programs want to ensure students have the soft skills necessary to become great physicians. While there are other application materials they can use, the CASPer is a cost-effective way to reach all applicants.
This exam is often used as an intermediary between the application and the interview. So, your performance on the CASPer could dictate whether or not you get an interview.
Because the CASPer is a behavioral exam, study for it the way you would for an MMI interview. The best method for preparing is to take practice CASPer tests. Because you have limited time to type your response, practicing your typing can help. You can try to increase your typing speed to answer the three questions provided in five minutes.
Because your CASPer results are only usable in the current application cycle, you want to take the test as soon as possible. The test is administered online so you can take the exam from home. Register for the CASPer test on the dates they have available.
Webcams are strictly required for the CASPer to ensure you aren’t cheating; it’s part of the identity assertion and proctoring methods. Your face must be visible during the exam.
While it’s minimizing spelling and punctuation errors is encouraged, CASPer raters are trained to disregard these mistakes when they review your responses. Reviewers are more concerned with the content of your responses.
The CASPer’s cost varies based on country, program, and school. It costs roughly $10 to take the CASPer and $10 per result distribution. So, if you send your results to five schools, you’ll pay $60 in distribution fees. Find out the dates and fees for your exam here.
It depends on the importance each medical school places on your results. Many schools may use your scores and application materials to decide whether or not to invite you to interview. It’s best to do as well as possible on your CASPer exam!
The CASPer takes approximately 90 to 110 minutes to complete.
The CASPer test is becoming more popular to help medical schools review applicants. It’s essential to understand the test’s importance, format, and how you can benefit from taking it. If you want an advantage against others in the applicant pool, be sure to prepare for the test in advance.