How to Prepare for the CASPer Test

May 3, 2024
10 min read
Contents

”Jonathan

Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/17/24

Here’s our guide on how to get ready for the CASPer test to get into medical school. Follow along for tips, sample questions, and more.

The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) test is used to assess the responses of med school applicants. The CASPer test prompts you with multiple hypothetical scenarios you must respond to. Read on to learn how to prepare for the CASPer test!

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15 CASPer Test Preparation Tips

Getting ready for the CASPer can be challenging. That’s why admissions experts Nicole De La Pena and Aditya Khurana have broken down what med schools are looking for and how to navigate the CASPer in this video: 

Let’s review more general CASPer prep tips to help you get ready for test day! 

1. Research 

Because of how different the CASPer Test is from other SJTs, it's important to do your research. CASPer is not a test you buy a book for; you can’t rely on memorization. 

Do your research for the casper

Because of how different the CASPer Test is from other SJTs, it's important to do your research. CASPer is not a test you buy a book for; you can’t rely on memorization.

Your research should involve reading as much as you can about the healthcare field and familiarizing yourself with the etiquette and practices that are required for patient interactions. 

The scenarios you will be presented with are examples of what you may one day experience as a friend, family member, colleague, or doctor. Read and familiarize yourself with cultural sensitivity, ethical issues, workplace dynamics, and how to properly communicate within a professional setting. 

Researching these subjects will give you the insight you need to properly respond and articulate your message while taking the test. You’ll have to demonstrate that you are capable and fully aware of the conduct required to succeed.


2. Understand the Test Format 

understand the exam format

As stated earlier, the CASPer test is fully virtual and taken from the place of your choosing. Ensure there is a stable internet connection capable of running the test uninterrupted. The CASPer website states that a minimum of 1.5MB/s internet speed is required to take the test smoothly. 

In addition, you need a functioning, front-facing webcam, Google Chrome or Firefox, and a pair of headphones or speakers (with a mic). Once you have set up your CASPer account, you can run the system requirements check to ensure you’re ready to take the test. These are the first and most important steps in understanding the test format.

Another important part of the test is the location. You can take the test wherever you want, but you must take it alone without any outside help. You can take it while sitting on your living room couch or sipping coffee at the kitchen table. Wherever it is, make sure it is quiet and comfortable for you. 

Each video prompt only plays once, so pay close attention to the scenario that is described and the questions you'll have to answer. The videos are not very long, so don't be mistaken into thinking that you'll have to memorize tons of information within a short span of time. 

If needed, you are allowed to have a blank piece of paper, a pen, a pencil, and a dictionary while you take the test. You'll be allowed to take any notes you want as you take the test, such as names or specific details, but pre-written notes of any kind are not allowed. 

You will be presented with fourteen scenarios divided across two sections. The first section is the video response section, and the second section is the typed response section. You’ll only have one minute to record each of your video responses and five minutes to write your written responses for each scenario. 

Read each question carefully and plan your answers accordingly, giving each question enough time to be answered thoroughly and completely. If you run out of time while answering a question, don't be alarmed; evaluators are aware of the time constraints.

3. Understand How You'll be Scored 

Understand How You'll be Scored

Each section of the CASPer test is evaluated by a different person. This is done in order to minimize any bias that may appear during the evaluation phase of the testing process. 

Evaluators are not made aware of any personal information; they will not know your name, age, ethnicity, or any other revealing information. This eliminates the possibility of any prejudices interfering with a just evaluation. 

Evaluators are instructed to ignore spelling and grammatical errors; these types of minor mistakes are common and do not count against you. As evaluators read your responses, they flag responses that don’t align with ethical or professional practices. They must justify the reason for flagging your response. 

If your test has too many flagged responses, it will be deemed unacceptable. Additionally, giving a well-articulated and accurate response to a single question is better than giving three subpar responses within a single section.  

CASPer evaluators rate your responses on a 1 to 9 scale, with 1 being a poor response and 9 representing a satisfactory response. Each evaluator is responsible for judging all of the responses they receive from multiple students at a given station. 

Once your sections have been scored, you’ll receive a quartile score:

Quartile Meaning
1st Quartile You scored in the lowest 25% compared to other test-takers
2nd Quartile You scored higher than 25% of test-takers, but no more than 50% of test-takers
3rd Quartile You scored higher than at least 50% of test-takers, but no higher than 75% of test-takers
4th Quartile You scored higher than 75% of test-takers

Something unique about the CASPer test is that your score is dependent on the performance of your peers! Your CASPer score is relative to how other test takers have done on the exam.

4. Practice With Sample Questions 

Practice CASPer Sample Questions

When it comes to the CASPer test, you can prepare by answering sample questions. You can find CASPer practice questions on the official CASPer website, which has some fantastic video and text-based scenarios to help you familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be asked. 

These scenarios will be general and will not pertain to a specific field or practice. Read the prompts and questions and watch the videos. Be aware of what the CASPer test will look and feel like when test day comes around. 

5. Get Expert Feedback on Your Responses 

Get feedback on your exam results

How will you know if your answers are strong, and what can you do to stand out when you take the real CASPer test? It’s a good idea to get expert, unbiased feedback on each of your responses to CASPer sample questions. This way, you can improve weaker answers and develop a strategy for answering any type of question.

6. Eliminate Tech Problems in Advance 

Eliminate tech problems befor taking the test

The best way to ensure you have the system requirements needed to take the CASPer test is to run the system requirements check found on the reservations page of your CASPer account. Don't go through the checklist on the day of the test. 

Run through it a few days before, and give yourself time to make any necessary changes to your computer, test location, or equipment. 

4 CASPer Test Typed Response Prep Tips

Here are some CASPer prep tips to ace the typed response section. 

1. Improve Your Typing Skills 

Responding to three questions in five minutes can be challenging. Fast typers typically have an advantage here, with more time to flesh out their responses. Typing faster with fewer errors means you won’t need to go back and fix mistakes as often, and raters are more likely to understand the flow of your responses. 

If you’re not a confident typer, we recommend practicing with tutorials or games to boost your WPM. 

2. Use Words to Convey Core Competencies

You don’t need to comb through a thesaurus, but you can use words to your advantage as you write responses. For example, you may want to approach a person “in private” or “gently” guide someone to do something else. Show your professionalism, empathy, and respect with your words. 

3. Don’t Get Caught Up On Grammar and Spelling 

While grammar and spelling are important on most written tests, do your best to let perfectionism take a backseat to the flow and content of your answers. You have a limited amount of time; your answers are fine with a few grammar and spelling mistakes as long as your intentions are clear. 

4. Practice With If/Then Statements 

If/then statements can help you construct winning answers while answering scenarios. For example, you can write: “If this is the situation, then I would do this. If this is actually what’s going on, then I would do this.” Practice with this style before test day! 

4 Tips For the CASPer Video Response

Here are four CASPer prep tips to help you get ready for video responses. 

1. Record Yourself Practicing 

When you’re practicing with video response questions, record yourself and watch it back. This can help you identify how you come across on video—are your answers too quiet? Are you looking anywhere but the camera? These are things you can adjust with practice before your test. 

2. Warm Up Your Voice 

It’s important to warm up your voice. We recommend saying a few tongue-twisters, over-enunciating words, and ensuring your voice is “warmed up” to ensure everything you say is clear. This can also reduce your chances of stumbling over words. Additionally, keep water nearby to remedy a dry/scratchy throat! 

3. Make a Conscious Effort to Limit Fidgeting and Watch Body Language 

Maybe you have a habit of playing with your hair, putting your hand in front of your mouth when you speak, or slouching. People often tend to fidget more when they’re nervous, but it’s in your best interest to limit closed-off body language and fidgeting to appear more confident. 

Watch your posture, and do your best to avoid distracting movements.

4. Visualize Speaking to a Person 

Speaking to a computer with no one on the other end can feel unnatural. Picturing another person on the other end can help you hold eye contact with the camera, keep your tone conversational, and make you seem more engaged.

Example CASPer Questions and Answers

Here are some sample CASPer questions and answers to help you get ready for the test. The test has 14 scenarios, some in video format and some in text. After each scenario, you'll face 2-3 open-ended questions. Now that you know how many CASPer questions to expect, let’s take a look at some practice questions and answers. 

CASPer Practice Question #1

“In October 2018, the recreational use of cannabis became legalized in Canada."
Question (1): "Discuss the pros and cons of the legalization of recreational marijuana."
Question (2): "How do you feel this decision has impacted our society to date?"
Question (3): "Discuss a similar scenario that is currently up for debate in today’s society.”

How to answer this question: Political issues can be challenging to respond to because you don’t know which side of the question your interviewer is on. That’s why it’s crucial to do plenty of up-to-date research on the current political climate.

Stick to the facts. How does the criminalization of cannabis impact minority communities? What are the biological impacts of cannabis on the human brain? Think of how you can respond to the question from an educated point of view rather than simply stating your opinion. 

Even though the question is political, your response should come from a healthcare perspective. 

CASPer Practice Question #2

“Patience is an essential skill in any field, and particularly in medicine.”
Question (1): "Discuss a time where you lost your temper."
Question (2): "What strategies do you practice to foster patience in your everyday life?"
Question (3): "How does having patience make you a better person and professional?”

How to answer this question: This question is an example of the main focus of the CASPer: psychological assessment. You should answer the question honestly. It’s human to lose your temper—the key is how you recover from it. 

This question is designed to get to know your coping mechanisms. As a physician, having healthy coping mechanisms is essential in times of stress. You’ll want to talk about why you lost your temper but focus mainly on how you reassessed, took a breath, and learned something from the experience. 

CASPer Practice Question #3

“You are a university student and you haven’t seen one of your closest friends, who also happens to be in many of your classes, all week. This is unusual for them. You attempt to call them, but they don’t answer your calls. Their roommate bumps into you in the hallway and mentions that your friend hasn’t been looking so good lately.”
Question (1): "How do you handle the situation?"
Question (2): "What factors do you consider in deciding whether or not to show up at your friend’s dorm room?"
Question (3): "How do you decide if/when to involve the help of other individuals (professionals, parents etc.) in this situation?”

How to answer this question: Not all CASPer questions will ask you for a “doctor’s” perspective, and this prompt is a great example of that. Here you have to answer the question as if you were talking about a friend. As a friend, it’s important to understand boundaries but also to do what you can to help each other. 

Answer this question honestly. How would you respond if they told you they weren’t okay and needed help? What if they lie and say they’re fine when it’s clear they are not? Try putting yourself in the shoes of your hypothetical friend. When would you want them to step in? 

It may help to picture a specific scenario from the past to help you pinpoint an answer to broad questions like this one.

CASPer Practice Question #4

“Think of a time when you had to make a sacrifice in order to accomplish a goal.”

How to answer this question: When tackling a question like this in a straightforward tone, it's important to keep your response concise yet impactful. Start by identifying a specific instance where you had to make a sacrifice to achieve a goal. Briefly describe the goal you were working towards and the sacrifice you made to attain it. Focus on the actions you took and the reasons behind them, avoiding unnecessary details. Then, emphasize the outcome of your sacrifice and how it contributed to your overall success or personal growth. By staying focused on the key elements of the situation and expressing them directly, you'll provide a clear and effective response to the question.

CASPer Practice Question #5

“Two peers are working on a group assignment, discussing how their third group member, Paul, has been unable to do his work due to a medical condition. Then, a group member discovers a post showing Paul at a pool party, and the legitimacy of Paul’s medical condition is questioned. 
There is no indication of when the picture was taken. The team wonders if they should tell their subject coordinator, so Paul doesn’t receive credit for the assignment. It’s up to you to make the final decision.”

How to answer this question: When addressing this scenario, keep it simple and clear. Start by acknowledging the discovery of the pool party picture and the concern it raises about Paul's medical condition. Highlight the importance of honesty and fairness in group work. 

Suggest discussing the situation openly within the group to gather more information and perspectives. Emphasize the need to consider Paul's rights and well-being while also upholding academic integrity. 

Ultimately, advocate for a fair decision that balances these factors. By keeping the response straightforward and easy to follow, you'll effectively address the question.

CASPer Practice Question #6

Your male coworker is about to have a baby and tells you his wife wants him to take paternity leave with her. He is excited about staying home with his baby, but also has a huge work project coming up that could lead to a promotion. 
He knows paternity leave is not supported in his male-dominated field, so if he takes leave he will probably not receive the promotion. He must choose between his family and his career, and you are asked for your opinion on the matter.

How to answer this question: Start by acknowledging the challenging decision your coworker is confronted with between family and career. Highlight the significance of paternity leave in fostering family bonding and supporting his spouse during this crucial time. 

Then, discuss the potential career implications of taking leave in a male-dominated field, where such decisions might not be widely supported. Encourage your coworker to reflect on his personal values and long-term priorities while also considering the support available from his workplace and family.

Ultimately, emphasize the importance of making a decision that prioritizes his well-being and aligns with his values, whether that involves embracing fatherhood or pursuing career advancement. This fluid approach ensures a clear and understandable response to the question.

If you’re looking for more CASPer sample questions to practice your skills, you can check out our tool below! It’ll take you through tons of CASPer example questions so you can familiarize yourself with the format.

Importance of Preparing for the CASPer Test

CASPer test preparation is unique in the way that you won’t be going over traditional course material. There is no test book to go through or terms to memorize. There are no right or wrong answers when you take the CASPer Test, but there are strong and weak answers. This is what separates it from other SJTs. 

Instead of assessing what you did in a specific scenario, the test analyzes why you responded the way you did. Demonstrating a full understanding of the given scenario and being able to give a unique response will result in a successful response to CASPer questions. 

This can be difficult, but keeping this in mind will help you with your CASPer preparation. 

The CASPer test for medical school changes and evolves each time it’s given. You won’t know beforehand what questions or scenarios you’ll confront. Still, preparing and devising a strategy to answer any question they may ask will put you in the best position possible to succeed. 

Is It Necessary to Study for the CASPer test?

It is necessary to prepare for the CASPer test. It's important to be aware of the issues doctors may face in a professional setting. This doesn't mean that clinical experience is required, but by being aware, you are preparing yourself for the types of scenarios you may be presented within CASPer and your future career.

What Is the CASPer Test? 

The CASPer test is an online situational judgment test (SJT). It's different from tests like the MCAT, which assesses your knowledge from college courses. The CASPer test assesses your empathic abilities, communication skills, and ethical conduct. The test was introduced into the med school admissions process over ten years ago. 

Snapshot & Duet

CASPer is now offered as one of three Altus Suite assessment tools alongside Snapshot and Duet. These tools aren’t part of the CASPer test unless your medical school specifies that you need to take them.

Snapshot has been discontinued as of the 2023/2024 cycle. Duet is a value-alignment tool designed to help future students evaluate their fit with different medical schools. The online tool acts as a questionnaire, connecting each of your answers to school values. 

How Much Does the CASPer Test Cost?

It costs $85 to take the CASPer test. This cost covers the distribution of your results to up to 7 programs. Any additional programs cost $16 each

How Long Is the CASPer Test?

The test will take approximately 90-110 minutes to complete. There’s an optional 10-minute break between questions that will reduce or lengthen the total time. You will be presented with 14 scenarios; six require a video response, and eight require text-based responses.

CASPer Challenges and Tips for Overcoming Them 

The most difficult part of the CASPer test is its uncertainty. Do everything possible to prepare. Read up on healthcare practices, learn how to communicate effectively, and study workplace dynamics. If you're the type to get test anxiety, complete practice questions until you get comfortable with the process. 

If you're struggling to find a good location to take your CASPer test, you may be able to rent a room at your local library. You can always ask a friend if you can take it at their house or find a secluded setting on campus where you can take the test. 

If you’re a slow typer, the CASPer test may prove to be the ultimate challenge for you. There are several online resources you can turn to for this; you can compete in games or complete tutorials that will train you to type faster.

FAQs: CASPer Test Preparation

Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about how to prepare for CASPer to get into medical school.

1. Is the CASPer Test Hard? 

While the CASPer test doesn’t test prior knowledge from courses, it can be challenging to formulate complete, well-thought-out answers. That said, CASPer scenarios are meant to challenge you!

2. How Long Does It Take To Prepare for CASPer?

Many students need between six and eight weeks to prepare for the CASPer. Some may need more or less time, depending on their familiarity with the test’s content and initial proficiency. 

3. Do You Need to Prepare for the CASPer Test? 

Preparing for the CASPer is in your best interest. Practicing ensures you understand how to build your answers to demonstrate your soft skills and align with what raters are looking for. 

4. Is CASPer Easy to Pass? 

CASPer is not a pass/fail test. However, half of people score in the third and fourth quartiles (scoring higher than at least 50% of test-takers). While it may not necessarily be “easy” to pass, you can do so with enough preparation. 

5. What Should I Avoid on the CASPer Test? 

Avoid using slang, vulgar, or inappropriate language. You should also avoid leaving incomplete answers or contradicting yourself throughout the test. 

6. How Long Is CASPer?

The CASPer test takes between 90 to 110 minutes to complete.

Study Hard for the CASPer and Get Into Med School 

The CASPer Test is not an academic assessment to measure your memorization or cognitive skills. It measures your ability to empathize, communicate, and integrate yourself into a professional setting. 

Knowing how to study for the CASPer test is an important part of being ready for it. The number of schools that use the CASPer test is increasing, and familiarizing yourself with the test format early can help you when your test day comes around.

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