Some medical schools now require you to take the CASPer exam as part of your medical school application. But what exactly is the CASPer exam? Preparing for the MCAT is already tedious enough, so including another exam seems to be superfluous. However, many medical schools ask for CASPer test results in order to round out a student’s application. We are here to provide you with everything you need to know about the exam. You will learn the purpose of CASPer, the test format, and how the admissions committee uses these exam results to find top candidates in the applicant pool. With this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the CASPer test for medical school.
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 you with realistic, hypothetical scenarios which you must answer. You will be asked how you would handle the situation and your reasoning behind it. The CASPer test is designed to analyze your behavioral tendencies, specifically, how an individual behaves in a certain situation and how they translate their knowledge, which determines the effectiveness of the responses. This behavioral analysis style is similar to what you would find in the MMI (Multiple-Mini Interview) format of a medical school interview.
You want to make sure you register for the CASPer exam at least three days prior to your preferred test date. It takes time for the system to process your payment and verify your identity, so do not wait until the last minute to register. If you require special accommodations, you should register at least three weeks before the test date to ensure all paperwork is submitted and processed on time.
In order to register for a CASPer test, you must create a CASPer account with the following:
- Government-issued photo ID (English/French)
- Valid email address
- Working webcam
- Working microphone
You will be recorded throughout the entire test, which is why a working webcam is required. This is to ensure you are taking the exam according to the regulations provided and not cheating in any way. You can take the CASPer exam once per admissions cycle. For example, you can only take the American Health Sciences test once per academic year; you will need to take a separate test for Canadian Health Sciences. Remember, all fees are final and non-refundable, so be sure to register for the correct CASPer exam for your region.
The purpose of the CASPer test is to ensure that students are not just academically capable but also behaviorally qualified to succeed in the medical profession. While the MCAT puts your education to the test, the CASPer test centers around whether you possess the suitable characteristics of someone who will likely succeed in medical school. Therefore, applicants have a chance to demonstrate their people skills early in the application process, giving them a better chance at receiving an invitation to interview.
The CASPer exam assesses the following behavioral characteristics:
The CASPer test is made up of twelve sections containing word-based or video-based scenarios and three open-ended questions. You have five minutes to type up your response to all three questions. This means you will need to be quick on your feet with your answers and be able to type them quickly. There is no break between sections, so once the five minutes are up, you’ll be automatically moved from one section to the next. However, there is an optional 15-minute break halfway through the exam. The CASPer test takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Be sure to answer each question thoroughly because you do not have a chance to review your answers at the end.
Each section is graded by a different person, and once the exam has been scored, it is automatically sent to the programs you had selected for distribution. You will not receive your score, nor will you have access to it. Each school sets its own criteria, so a score that is 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 questions related to the scenario provided. Take a look at the follow 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?
This scenario is followed by questions that 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.
1. Briefly describe the situation and the sacrifice you made.
2. Do you regret your decision to make the sacrifice? Why or why not?
3. Did you learn anything from this situation that can be applied to your desired career? Explain your response.
This is a broader based statement that requires the applicant to discuss a moment in their life, expand upon it, and how it has affected them. These aren’t as geared towards critical thinking and reasoning as the other example. Rather, this pulls from your experiences and in order to get a better understanding of who you are.
Video-based questions offer a short clip to watch followed by questions to respond to based on what you just watched. When you watch some of the examples of previous video-based questions on the CASPer test, you will see that each one varies to get a better understanding of the behavioral characteristics stated earlier.
Many programs have begun incorporating new tools such as CASPer to make sure that students are not only academically capable but also possess the suitable characteristics of someone who will likely succeed on the job. Research shows that CASPer is reliable and also predicts future success in medical school, so scores from the test are able to tell programs something meaningful about their applicants.
For applicants, the CASPer is advantageous to take because it enables you to demonstrate your people skills earlier in the admissions process. Programs receive thousands of applications and don’t have the ability to review each one in detail until they bring it down to a reasonable amount. By completing the CASPer exam, you give programs insight into your behavioral characteristics before the holistic review or the interview phase. You are allowing the admissions committees to make a more informed decision on your application.
Because the CASPer test is a behavioral exam, you can study for it in a similar way to an MMI interview. Look to these tips to help you prepare for the CASPer:
Chrome and Firefox browsers are safe bets when taking the test, so download these for free onto your computer and take your test through one of those platforms. Also, make sure your webcam is functioning because you will need to have it on during the CASPer.
This allows you to become familiar with the questions they may be asked, the response format, timing, and how to pace yourself. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you take the actual CASPer.
The CASPer and MMIs similarly analyze behavior, so MMI practice resources are valuable to use when preparing for the CASPer. Practice reading the problems and answering them in a logical fashion, as expected during your exam.
Because there is no official material to help you prepare, asking a friend who has taken the CASPer is a great way to get an idea of what to expect. They have taken it and can give you tips and tricks on how to do well, along with a general summary of what questions were asked.
You should research topics such as ethics and conflict resolution in relation to the field of medicine to get an understanding of the characteristics expected from doctors and physicians. The CASPer wants to see if you can demonstrate the people skills and problem-solving abilities to be successful in this career.
Because you have five minutes to type a response to each of the three questions provided for each question, you want your typing to be as quick and accurate as possible. If you’re the type of person that types one button at a time, you will really struggle with this test. Take the time to practice your typing abilities. Practice typing tests and practice CASPer tests are a great way to hone in your skills because you channel your typing and prepare for the CASPer.
There are many MD and DO programs that require applicants to take the CASPer exam. You should check with the programs to which you are applying to find out if this test is required.
Programs want to make sure students are not only academically capable but also possess the characteristics required for someone to be successful in the medical profession. While there are other resources admissions committees can use to obtain this information, the CASPer is the most cost-effective way to reach all applicants. This exam is often used as an intermediary step between application and interview. So, your performance on the CASPer test could dictate whether or not you get an interview.
Because the CASPer is a behavioral exam, study for it in the way you would for an MMI interview. The best methods for preparing is to make sure your computer and software is compatible with the exam format, and to take practice CASPer tests. Because you have a limited amount of time to type your response, practicing your typing would be beneficial. You can try to increase your typing speed in order to be able to answer the three questions provided in each section in five minutes.
Because your CASPer results are applicable to your 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 are not cheating; it is part of their identity assertion and proctoring methods. Your face must be visible throughout the duration of the exam.
While it is strongly encouraged that you minimize spelling and punctuation errors, CASPer raters are trained to disregard these mistakes when they review your responses. Reviewers are more concerned with the content of your responses and your ability to answer each question thoroughly.
The cost of the CASPer test varies based on the country in which the school you are applying to resides, the program(s) to which you are applying, and the school(s) to which you are applying. It costs roughly $10 to take the CASPer and $10 per result distribution. So if you are sending your results to five different schools, you will pay a total of $60 in distribution fees. Find out the dates and fees for your exam here.
The CASPer test and the CASPer Snapshot are similar but not the same. Both the exam and Snapshot provide admissions committees a better understanding of who you are, but the Snapshot is a short video response tool created as a response to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Snapshot is a three-question one-way interview tool taken through your TakeCasper account. Once you start Snapshot, you will be asked to begin recording yourself and that is when you will see the first question. You will read the first question and respond, all while being recorded. You have up to two minutes to read the question and respond. These responses are recorded, rather than the CASPer test which requires all answers to be typed. You will not have the opportunity to re-record yourself, so be sure to use the practice questions as many times as you like until you are comfortable with the format.
The CASPer test is becoming more popular for medical programs when evaluating potential applicants. This comprehensive guide has provided you with necessary information regarding the CASPer test for medical school. It is important to understand the test’s importance, format, and how you can benefit from taking the exam. If you want to have an advantage against others in the applicant pool, be sure that you prepare for the test in advance.