The CASPer test is the new kid on the block when it comes to medical school requirements. And with more and more medical schools using it, more and more students are trying to find out what the heck it is.
This post will cover everything you need to know about the CASPer test. You’ll learn how to prepare, what purpose it serves, how long it is, and much more.
Table of Contents
- What Is The CASPer Test?
- Why Was It Created?
- What Does It Measure?
- What Is the Format?
- How Long Is The CASPer Test?
- How Is It Scored?
- How Is It Used In The Admission Process?
- How To Prepare For The CASPer Test
- How Can You Take It Once You’re Ready?
- What’s Next
What Is The CASPer Test?
Preparing for the MCAT and ensuring that your GPA is as high as possible is already a huge undertaking for prospective medical students. However, there’s an additional test that you may have to take as part of the admissions process for medical school.
The CASPer test is a newer testing option that doesn’t focus on academics. First developed by researchers at McMaster University Canada in 2005, the test is being implemented into application processes for a growing number of medical schools around the world.
CASPer stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. This isn’t a test revolving around your academic prowess or knowledge of medical subjects.
Instead, it’s about analyzing how you think.
At its core, CASPer is a situational judgment test. It’s a psychology-based test that’s meant to give admissions panels better insigdfe2e6ht into who you are and how you would react in certain situations.
Why Was It Created?
Medical schools already require personal interviews and a slew of other requirements, so why add the CASPer test into the mix?
Well, the developers of the test found that the traditional ways of evaluating an applicant’s personal characteristics were not always effective.
As an applicant, your goal is to get accepted into as many schools as possible. Many applicants take a lot of time trying to craft an image of what they think medical schools want to see in students.
This means creating a well-crafted personal essay or trying to get a letter of recommendation from someone you know will provide glowing words of praise.
This careful selection of application material isn’t always the best gauge of someone’s true interpersonal skills or intrapersonal skills.
One study found that a vast majority of cases involving disciplinary action against doctors were caused by a lack of professionalism rather than issues with medical expertise.
Nearly 95 percent!
The CASPer test aims to give admissions panels more insight into what applicants bring to the table. It effectively measures those personal characteristics and provides quantifiable results without any biases. The test can show schools that you have the necessary characteristics to become an effective medical professional.
What Does It Measure?
The CASPer test is designed to examine several different personality traits. This isn’t a test that’s built around cognitive skills. Rather, it’s about measuring your professionalism, morality, communication skills, and empathy.
Some would argue that these are all skills and traits that can’t be learned. Instead, they’re characteristics that you develop over time through experience.
Medical schools want to learn more about your behavioral tendencies. They want to see how you will respond in certain situations and get more insight into the way you think and how you will come to make decisions in tough scenarios.
What Is the Format?
The format of the CASPer test is unique. But, it’s not too far off from other standardized tests you have taken before.
At a high-level, the test is broken down into 12 distinct sections.
Eight of those sections utilize videos to set the stage for the question, and the remaining four sections are all word-based. It’s similar to the multiple mini interview style that many schools utilize.
For every scenario presented, you have to answer three questions. The test provides a total of five minutes to respond to each scenario. So, you have to think quickly!
The interesting thing about the CASPer test is that most of the questions asked aren’t going to be related to medicine. You might have a question here or there that forces you to think like a physician.
But for the most part, the scenarios are designed to replicate general real-world situations that you’ve likely encountered at some point.
For example, you might see scenarios revolving around workplace decisions. The next scenario could put you at a party with your closest friends. While it might seem counterintuitive to the medical school application process, those scenarios provide a close look at how you think.
Let’s take a deeper look into the two sections.
For the scenarios that use videos, the questions are more open-ended. These sections closely resemble questions you’d see on typical situational judgment tests.
The section starts with a short one to two-minute video. The video will set the stage and describe your role in the scenario. For example, you might be one of the employees in a workplace dispute or a friend trying to help another person make a decision.
The questions are relatively simple. In most cases, they are “What would you do” types of questions where you have to explain your reasoning.
These sections are a bit different. Instead of a video, you’re presented with a short statement. The questions that follow are a mix of standard situational judgment test questions and behavior descriptor questions.
Oftentimes, these questions have you reflecting on specific past experiences. For example, you may be asked to think about a time when you were faced with a tough decision or forced to compromise on your own moral code.
How Long Is The CASPer Test?
The CASPer test is actually pretty brief. The entire test is 60 minutes long and is broken down into 12 sections that take 5 minutes each.
You will get the opportunity to take a 15-minute break if you wish (it’s optional), so assuming you take the break you’ll be done in less than half an hour.
When you compare this to some of the other massive tests out there (like the MCAT), the CASPer test is not very long at all!
How Is It Scored?
With the CASPer test, there are a lot of unknowns for test-takers! The developers do not provide any information about how standardized scores are produced.
To make matters worse, you don’t get to see your final score. Only the schools you apply to have access to it!
The grading process for the CASPer test is very unique. It’s all graded by humans. Each section is manually graded by a different person.
This means you’ll have 12 different people analyzing your questions and answers.
The independent graders come from a wide range of backgrounds. Sections could be rated by professional physicians, educators, those in charge of making policies, or other people that work in the field of medicine.
Not only that, but those graders come from diverse backgrounds, too. This is meant to replicate the demographics of the patient population as a whole.
As a physician, you’ll be working with people of all races, genders, and incomes. So, it only makes sense that your answers are analyzed by a wide demographic as well!
The good news is that many of the standard grading conventions are overlooked. Graders are instructed to overlook issues like spelling and grammar.
Instead, they focus on the content of your answer. The graders will even consider incomplete sentences if you ran out of time before completing a section.
How Is It Used In The Admission Process?
How your CASPer scores will be used in the admissions process varies widely from school to school.
This is a new test and not all schools require it yet. Furthermore, every school decides how to use the scores and what role it plays in the decision process.
There are no official standards for CASPer scores. Some schools will consider the results but not use official numbers to separate applicants. For example, it’s used as a first impression. The admissions panel may use it as a deciding factor if they’re on the fence about your application.
On the other hand, some schools will not even consider an applicant for admissions if it does not reach a certain threshold. They may have a cut-off point to screen applications.
At the end of the day, your CASPer scores are just another factor to compare you with other students. If the school requires those scores, they’ll use them to see where you fall within the larger pool of applicants.
How To Prepare For The CASPer Test
There’s not much you can do to prepare for the CASPer test in terms of performance. This is a behavioral exam with no right or wrong answers!
Graders are looking at how you respond and your reasoning behind your answers rather than whether or not it’s the right choice.
As a result, traditional test preparation doesn’t really apply to the CASPer.
That said, there are a few things you can do to feel more comfortable going in. First things first, make sure that your computer runs the software. Unlike the MCAT, this isn’t a test that you have to complete at a testing center with a proctor. You can do it at home.
The official CASPer site has a system checker tool. Use it to ensure that things run smoothly on test day.
Another thing you can do is brush up on your typing skills. With only five minutes to respond to three questions, you don’t have a lot of time. At the very least, aim for 40 words a minute.
While grammatical and spelling errors won’t affect your score, it’s still recommended that you follow proper writing conventions. Take some time to practice typing without errors.
Beyond the technical aspects of the test, you can also take a look at sample questions. These are readily available all over the Internet. You can even find video scenarios.
Before your test date, take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with medical ethics too. There are a lot of sources about this topic available. Understanding how medical professionals address conflicts can do a lot to mold your approach.
Also, think back on your own life experiences! Reflect on challenging experiences and jot down the lessons you learned. A big part of the CASPer test is explaining your thought process. So, being able to share experiences can make a huge difference.
Will Practice Tests With Sample Questions And Answers Help?
This is an area where there are many conflicting opinions. This is partly because the test is very new, and because there are also varying motives behind each opinion.
A lot of the large test prep companies are already advertising nicely packaged “CASPer practice tests” as a part of their existing product line. While we understand that it’s their business, there isn’t any hard data showing that practice tests make a significant difference in CASPer performance.
While going through a CASPer practice test that contains a number of sample questions and answers could help you feel more comfortable, at the end of the day your understanding of medical ethics will be what carries you through the test itself.
How Can You Take It Once You’re Ready?
The CASPer test is taken at least once a month. You only have to take it once. However, your scores are only valid for one application cycle.
You can register for the test on the official website.
From there, you will be able to choose a testing date. CASPer recommends that you enroll at least three days prior to your intended test date.
The fees are relatively modest compared to the MCAT. It costs $12 for American students. An additional fee of $12 is charged for every school that the results are sent to as well.
It’s recommended that you take the test during the spring of your application year. Ideally, you’ll want to take the CASPer test around the same time that you’re preparing your AMCAS application. So, around April or May is a good option. The latest you should take it is July.
After you’ve completed the CASPer test, it takes approximately three weeks to score and distribute. When you enroll, you’ll have the opportunity to select which schools will receive your scores.
The distribution process is automatic. CASPer will send your results to the schools you apply to. You won’t have access to your scores at all.
Now you know what the CASPer test is and your options for preparing for it.
Don’t let the abstract nature of this test intimidate you. It should actually be good news if anything!
Simply do a little some prep on medical ethics and don’t overthink it. This test is made to be a helpful piece of a much larger process, so there’s honestly no need to agonize over it.
If you want to go all-out and seriously prepare for the CASPer test, feel free to get in touch with us. This process is something we’re quite familiar with and would be happy to help you out.