2023 Altus Suite Duet Guide

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The Altus Suite Duet section was a new addition to the 2022 application cycle. Duet is a short value-alignment assessment that compares your values to those of medical school programs. Although there are no right or wrong answers to this component, there’s still plenty you can do to prepare for Duet in order to make informed decisions about your values and preferences.

This guide will cover how Duet fits within Altus Suite, how to prepare for Duet, and important Duet FAQs.

NOTE: Altus Assessments is changing to Acuity Insights. Expect changes at some point during the beginning of 2023, when the new cycle begins.

 

How Duet Fits Within the Altus Suite

Altus Suite is a multi-part assessment designed to evaluate a medical school applicant’s bedside manner and general people skills. It provides prospective medical students with a few different opportunities to demonstrate their professional and personal skills through both written and verbal content.

Altus Suite consists of three parts: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet.

Casper is a 100-120 minute situational judgment test. The goal of Casper is to assess applicants based on 10 non-academic attributes, including professionalism, communication, problem solving, and ethics.

Learn more in our Casper Guide.

Snapshot is a short, one-way virtual interview in which applicants are asked three questions surrounding why the applicant wants to pursue medicine and become a doctor. Snapshot is a way for applicants to showcase their people skills and bring aspects of their personal statement to life.

Learn more in our Snapshot Guide.

Duet is a value-alignment assessment. Applicants are asked what they value most in a program, and the values they choose are then compared to what medical programs determine to be their own core values. Duet only applies to applicants to US medical schools and graduate medical programs.

Altus Suite descriptions of Casper, Snapshot, Duet

 

How Duet Works

Duet requires applicants to work their way through a list of multiple choice pairs of program characteristics in a few different categories, such as research opportunities, teaching style, and interactions with faculty.

Applicants are asked to compare characteristics and choose between them to determine which aspects of a program they value most. Once you work through the comparisons, you will be asked to compare each of the categories in pairs.

There are no right or wrong answers; Duet is designed to place you with the program that most aligns with your values. Your preferences are compared with the unique profiles of contributing programs to help evaluate your mutual alignment in a standardized way.

It’s important to note that you can only change your answer to the question that’s right before the one you’re currently on. You’re not allowed to go back farther than that, so be sure of your choice before you make your selection.

While Duet is all based on personal preference, there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself and better understand what your own values and preferences actually are.

 

How to Prepare for Duet

1 | Understand Your Own Values

Duet is all about knowing yourself and understanding what you’re looking for in a medical program. There are no right or wrong answers; it really comes down to what’s most important to you and what you want most from your school.

So, what do you value most? Have you ever considered what your own personal core values are? Your core values determine how you behave in your day-to-day life, and they can help guide your decision making process for medical school. How do your core values translate into the medical career you want to pursue?

Do you want to work in rural medicine, or do you want to work in underserved population medicine? Are you more interested in patient care or scientific innovation and research?

It’s important to begin considering these things as soon as possible, and not just because of Duet. Choosing which schools to apply to is a painstaking and time-consuming process that requires a great deal of introspection, reflection, and research. Gaining a better understanding of yourself and your values will help you better align with the schools you are most suited to.

2 | Think About Your Preferences in Advance

It’s imperative that you research the programs you’re interested in in advance. Don’t sit down to complete Duet without a great deal of research; without it, you cannot accurately determine what you value most in a program.

Likely, you’ve been thinking about the medical schools you want to attend for a long time, and you’ve got a few you’re dreaming of. You may want to live in a certain city, you may already have a specialty in mind, or you may value a school’s prestige. Dig deeper than these characteristics; while you may already know you love the teaching style at a certain school, you may not want to live in the city it’s located in, and vice versa.

There are so many important factors to consider, so don’t limit yourself to just one. Get to know more about different schools and dedicate yourself to researching and considering a wide range of factors.

For example, you may be looking at tuition cost, but have you compared cost of living, travel expenses, and financial aid opportunities? Have you thought about how you prefer to learn? Are you more interested in early clinical exposure or student-centered learning? Many medical schools grade on a pass/fail basis. Do you have a preference for how you are graded?

What are YOU looking for? Give yourself plenty of time to think about what matters most to you, and dig deep into what medical school programs offer to determine which is the best fit for you.

Learn more: How to Decide Which Medical Schools to Apply to (12 Important Factors)

3 | What Do Your Programs of Choice Value in Applicants?

While you may know what matters most to you, it’s also important to consider what matters most to the programs you’re interested in. What characteristics matter to the schools you want to apply to? The best way to figure this out is to research the statistics of recent matriculated medical school students for each of the schools you are considering applying to.

AAMC’s Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) database allows you to search, browse, sort, and compare medical schools—including stats on GPA and MCAT averages. These facts and statistics about the qualifications and backgrounds of recent matriculants can help you to better ascertain how well you, as well as your accomplishments and grades, are suited to the schools you want to attend.

While AAMC’S MSAR comes with an annual cost, it provides you with invaluable data to help you determine where you have the best chance of acceptance and which programs are the best fit for you.

4 | How Would You Answer the “Why Our School?” Question?

The programs you’re applying to want to know why you’ve selected them. Why are they the best fit for you? Taking the time to consider your answer to this common interview question is an excellent way to prepare for Duet.

Answering this question involves a whole lot of research. What are the program’s strengths? What’s unique about the program? Are you interested in a specific specialty? Do you share the school’s core values and relate to the school’s mission statement? Why?

In the context of a medical school interview, details are the name of the game. This question is meant to test how intimately you know the program. The interviewer will ask about why the school is a good fit for you specifically. Knowing how you would answer this question for a few different schools will give you a good understanding of your own values as well as the values of the programs you’re interested in—which is key to Duet.

Learn more: 21 Medical School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

5 | Hone Your Decision Making Skills

Although there are no right or wrong answers when completing Duet, making decisions on the spot is tough to do, and for some, the thought of making a choice between two options can be paralyzing.

Depending on how difficult you find making decisions, you may need to work at improving the skill. There are a lot of very important decisions you’re going to have to make in the coming months while applying to medical schools. Take time to learn different decision making techniques to help you get better at making informed decisions and to improve your confidence when making decisions.

6 | Follow Your Gut Feeling (After Doing Your Research)

Altus Suite encourages you to go with your gut when choosing which program characteristics are most important to you. Following your intuition and your personal preferences is also a crucial piece of deciding which medical schools to apply to. But this doesn’t negate the fact you need to do plenty of research first. “Go with your gut” doesn’t mean “choose on a whim” or whatever feels right in the moment.

Once you’ve put in the work and completed ample amounts of research, you’ll know the ins and outs of the programs you want to apply to. You will have a detailed understanding of the values and offerings of the programs you’re interested in, as well as your own values. This means your instincts will be honed to recognize the characteristics that sound most appealing to you as well as the characteristics that sound most like the programs you’re interested in.

Copious amounts of detailed research make your instincts much more reliable. If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t, and vice versa.

Putting in the research means you’ll be able to follow your instincts with confidence when completing Duet.

 

Altus Suite Duet FAQs

What Schools Require Duet?

Duet only applies to US medical schools and graduate medical program applicants. So if you’re planning on studying outside of the US, you likely won’t be required to complete Duet.

Nearly 200 medical schools in the US now require applicants to complete the Casper component of Altus Suite as part of their application, but these schools do not necessarily require Duet or Snapshot. Check with the requirements of the specific schools you’re applying to in order to understand which components of Altus Suite are required.

When is Duet Due?

Individual programs determine their own Altus Suite requirements for their admissions process. Altus Suite recommends you complete Duet within two weeks (14 days) of taking your Casper test, as this will ensure all of your Altus Suite components can be viewed together by the programs you’re applying to.

If individual program requirements change, you will still be able to complete Duet anytime before your earliest program distribution deadline.

How Much Does Duet Cost?

The fee to take Altus Suite is $85 USD, which includes distribution of results to 8 programs. An additional $15 USD is charged for each additional program you need to send your scores to. The fees you pay when you reserve your Casper test covers all applicable parts, including Duet.

What Types of Characteristics Are Asked About?

Duet asks applicants to compare a wide range of characteristics in a few different categories, such as interactions with faculty, research opportunities, and teaching style.

Characteristics may include the types of patients you want to care for, how important the diversity and inclusivity of the campus is, whether you want the mission of the program to focus on ethics or scientific innovation, if you’re more interested in early clinical exposure or student-centered learning, and so on.

Can I Go Back if I Want to Change My Answers?

You are only permitted to go back to the question immediately preceding the one you’re currently on. After that, your answers are automatically saved. This means you need to enter the Duet section of Altus Suite prepared and ready to confirm all of your answers.

Do I Need to Prepare for Duet?

There is no right or wrong answer in Duet, so you do not need to formally prepare. That said, it is vital that you have a clear understanding of your own values and preferences as well as those of the programs you’re most interested in attending. And this takes a great deal of thorough, detailed research into the specific offerings and values of the medical schools you’re planning on applying to.

Do not underestimate the importance of getting to know yourself and what you are looking for from a medical school; it’s a critical part of the application process. Medical school is four years of your life, and your success and happiness at that medical school will depend on how well you feel like you fit in with the student body as well as how well-suited you are to the school’s offerings, values, and mission statement.

While you do not need to formally prepare for Duet, this kind of comprehensive research is a vital part of your overall medical school application. Give yourself plenty of time to study up on the unique characteristics of the medical schools you want to attend, and this time, sweat the small stuff.

 

Prepare for Altus Suite with Med School Insiders

Although you can’t study for Altus Suite, it’s important to prepare for it. Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every aspect of the medical school application process—including Altus Suite. We can help you choose the medical schools that are the best fit for you and improve the specific areas of your application that will get noticed by your top choice schools.

Browse our wide range of resources, which includes articles and guides on the Casper test, the MCAT, the medical school application process, and more.

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