Here’s our guide on how to prep for CASPer to get into medical school. Follow along for CASPer exam preparation tips, sample questions, and more.
The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) test is a tool used by admissions committees to assess the psychological and ethical responses of medical school applicants. The exam differs from the MCAT as it is primarily centered around psychology rather than academics.
The CASPer test prompts you with multiple, different, hypothetical scenarios and asks you to respond with how you would react to them while solving the issue at hand. The number of schools that require the CASPer test has increased in recent years, but each school you're applying to may have its own requirements.
It may appear daunting at first because of how unique a challenge it is, but we're here to teach you how to prepare for the CASPer Test.
Let’s talk about everything you need to study for CASPer, and how to go about your test prep.
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 test 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, the dynamics of the workplace, 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.
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, pen, 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 asked three questions, which must be answered within the 5-minute time limit. 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.
Each section of the CASPer test is evaluated by a different person. This means that each test taker has 12 unique individuals from different professional and socioeconomic backgrounds evaluating their test. 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 any spelling and grammatical errors as they make their judgments; these types of minor mistakes are common and do not count against you. As evaluators read your responses, they flag any responses that do not fall in line with ethical or professional practices. They will have to 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.
Test-takers are scored in relation to how all other test-takers performed. Scores are not linear or explicitly defined, and they are conjured in relation to all who write the exam. Each section will receive a score from 1 to 9, and once all evaluations are done, they will be averaged between all section scores. The highest score you can receive on the test is a 9.
When it comes to the CASPer test, you can prepare effectively 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.
How will you know if your answers are strong and what you can 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.
The best way to ensure you have the system requirements needed to take the CASPer test is to run the system requirements check found within the reservations page of your CASPer account. Don't go through the checklist 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.
Here are some sample CASPer questions and answers to help you study for the test. We have only included test prompts, but video prompts asking similar questions will also be on the test.
“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 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.
“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.
“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 ok 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 for broad questions like this one.
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 changes and evolves with 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.
It is absolutely necessary to prepare for the CASPer test. It's important to be aware of the types of issues that doctors can face within 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 with in CASPer and in your future career.
There are only five minutes to respond within each section. These five minutes will feel like two if you’re under pressure, but by preparing, you will feel at ease and comfortable knowing you’re ready for whatever they throw at you.
The CASPer test is an online situational judgment test (SJT), meaning that it is purely a psychological assessment that examines your ability to respond to specific scenarios that you may experience in your future career. It's different from tests like the MCAT, which primarily assesses your science background to ensure you are academically ready for medical school.
Specifically, the CASPer test assesses your empathic abilities, your communication skills, and ethical conduct. The CASPer test is not used to assess your scientific or medical knowledge. It is a psychological test that identifies whether or not you possess the necessary interpersonal and intrapersonal skills required to succeed within a professional setting.
The CASPer test was first introduced into the medical school admissions process approximately ten years ago The test was first developed and introduced into the admissions process at McMaster University in Canada. Now, its popularity has grown and the test has become an essential part of the application process for many top schools.
There are no testing centers for the CASPer Test; it is taken online, using your webcam and other peripherals. It is highly accessible and can be pretty much taken from anywhere, as long as you have a stable internet connection and are in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted.
CASPer is now offered as one of three Altus Suite assessment tools alongside Snapshot and Duet. These tools are not a part of the CASPer test unless your medical school specifies that you need to include them in your application, although they are recommended to include as an added component.
CASPer Snapshot is a quick (three-question) video response tool that can be used alongside a CASPer test. Snapshot offers students time to practice reading and answering questions before recording. However, once you begin your Snapshot you cannot retake your video.
Duet is a value-alignment tool that has been designed to help future students evaluate their fit with different medical schools. The online tool performs as a questionnaire, connecting each of your answers to the values of different schools.
It costs $10 to take the CASPer test, and for each school you send your scores to, it is an additional $10. Each school is different and may or may not require the CASPer test as you go through the application process, so make sure that you check and know which schools to require your CASPer results.
There are 12 sections within the test, and each one is five minutes long; the test will take approximately 100 minutes to complete. There is an optional 10-minute break at the halfway point that can reduce or lengthen the total time. You will be presented with 12 different scenarios, eight through video and another four that are text-based.
Each of these scenarios is presented to you in random order, and there are three follow-up questions you must answer after each clip. The questions will be in regard to the presented scenario, and you must type out your response to each one as quickly as you can; you are only given five minutes per section.
The video-based scenarios are generalized and are designed not to favor one type of applicant. These hypothetical scenarios can place you in a doctor's office, at a night out with your friends, or within your own house having a discussion with a sibling.
Each scenario is devised to be answered without having clinical experience; this factors out any advantages that applicants who have that experience could possess. The only difference between the written and video scenarios is that the written scenarios also present you with behavioral descriptor questions.
The most difficult part of the CASPer test is its uncertainty. It's anxiety-inducing. To avoid these feelings of despair, do everything possible to prepare. Read up on healthcare practices, learn how to effectively communicate, and study workplace dynamics.
There is no one thing you should prepare for, but by reading up on professionalism and ethical practices, you'll be prepared to take the CASPer test without any hiccups. If you're the type to get test anxiety and crack under pressure, go through the practice test provided by CASPer several times until you get comfortable with the process.
Finding a quiet place at home can be challenging. If you're struggling to find a good location to take your CASPer Test, you may be able to rent out a room at your local library and take it there. 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 an ultimate challenge for you. Even experienced typists have difficulties in answering every question within the time limit. There are several online resources that you can turn to for this; you can compete in games or take it easy and complete tutorials that will train you to type better and faster.
Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about how to prepare for CASPer to get into medical school.
On test day, you should run through the systems requirements check once more to ensure everything is up to standard. Restart your computer and close all applications, except the browser you'll be using to take the test. Finally, log in to your CASPer account and locate the countdown timer for your test.
The countdown on the CASPer website will be the most accurate tool for knowing at exactly what time to start the test.
If you run into a technical issue while taking the test, do not panic. CASPer is aware of potential technical issues and has sanctions in place to handle these situations. If something does go wrong, refresh your page. If that doesn't work, move on to your backup web browser and attempt to take the test from there.
If that doesn't solve the issue, then you should immediately contact the live support and technical team through the online chat function found in the orange bubble at the bottom of the test screen. Don't be afraid of losing your answers or responses; CASPer saves them every second, as long as your internet connection is stable.
Scores are not explicitly released to you or anyone else besides the schools you chose to send them to. This happens at least 2-3 weeks after the original test date. Each school uses the CASPer test results differently, and what may be competitive at one school may not be for another. There is no baseline for comparison, so your exact score doesn't get revealed to you.
With that said, the creators of the CASPer test are running a pilot program where select test takers may receive quartile data. These types of results only reveal your quartile position among other test takers. This means you could place in the first, second, third, or fourth quartile among applicants.
This type of feedback maintains the test security and reveals how you scored against other students. Quartiles do not measure what percentage of questions you get right or wrong, they measure the percentage of applicants you scored higher than.
Test takers can reschedule their tests as long as there are still available test dates within the current admissions cycle. If you miss your test, you can reschedule without penalties.
This varies from school to school. You'll have to check and verify if your desired school uses the CASPer at any point in their admissions process. The use of the CASPer Test has been increasing over the past several years, so there's a chance your school may require it.
Your CASPer Test scores are only valid for a single admission's cycle.. If you wish to reapply or apply in future admissions cycles, you must take the CASPer again. The CASPer test changes each year, therefore scores are not transferable between admissions cycles.
The test itself comprises 12 different sections and presents you with unique hypothetical scenarios in both written and video format. Each section lasts only five minutes; a big part of preparing for the test is getting comfortable with this time limit.
Once you have created your CASPer account, take the practice test that they give you. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the time limit and what it really feels when you're under pressure. Time always feels like it's flying by when you're under stress.
The CASPer Test is not an academic assessment to measure your memorization or cognitive skills. It is a measure of 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.