Meet CASPer—the most recent addition to medical school applications. The medical community recently began to emphasize the importance of a doctor’s bedside manner in addition to their scholarly knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge. The CASPer test is not academic; it measures your empathy, professionalism, ethical decision making, and communication skills.
That’s right: there’s yet another step in your long and arduous journey to becoming a doctor. And, you won’t receive your score for the CASPer test to know how well you did. Your test results are automatically sent to the medical schools you’re applying to without you ever seeing them—just like your letters of recommendation.
This guide will outline everything you need to know about the CASPer test, including test logistics, how it’s scored, how to prepare, and a CASPer FAQ.
What is the CASPer Test?
CASPer measures the kind of person you are beyond your grades and hard skills.
CASPer stands for “Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics.” Although the title leaves little to the imagination, CASPer is a computer-based test that assesses your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, professionalism, ethics, empathy, and bedside manner—outside of academics.
The CASPer tests people based on the following 10 Constructs:
- Problem solving
Although stellar grades are a major asset to your medical school application, interpersonal skills are also very important. Doctors must have a strong foundation of knowledge and possess superior cognitive abilities, but they also need to be able to communicate effectively with their patients. They need to listen closely to what their patients tell them to deduce what could be wrong with their health, and they need to be able to deliver a wide range of challenging—and potentially devastating—information.
What Medical Schools Require CASPer?
Not all medical schools require you to take the CASPer. Although it was created in 2010, it has only recently gained popularity. That said, its popularity grows every year. There are dozens of US medical schools that require a CASPer test.
This is a list of every school and program that requires applicants to take the CASPer.
How Long is the CASPer Test?
CASPer is composed of 12 sections, 8 video-based scenarios and 4 word-based scenarios. Each scenario is followed by 3 questions. The video-based scenarios are all SJTs (Situational Judgment Tests), whereas the word-based scenarios are a blend of SJTs and behavioral descriptor questions. The scenarios typically aren’t based in a clinical setting. For example, you could be at a party with friends or in a one-on-one meeting with your boss.
Fortunately, CASPer doesn’t take long to complete. The test in total takes about 100 minutes, including an introduction and an optional ten minute break at the halfway point. You are allowed 5 minutes to type your responses for each answer section.
CASPer Test Dates
CASPer test dates vary between schools. The test season generally runs from May to December, but you need to pay attention to the due dates set by the schools you choose to apply to. Test dates for the upcoming admissions cycle are made available in the spring.
Keep in mind that you can only take the CASPer test once during an admissions cycle. Should your med school application be unsuccessful, you will have to take the CASPer again the next year you apply.
How is the CASPer Test Scored?
Each section of the CASPer is scored by a unique rater, so no two sections of your test will be graded by the same person. This way, your CASPer score is made up of 12 independent impressions of you. Raters are only given your typed reply; they are not provided with any personal information about you, they don’t know what you look like, and they don’t know how you answered the other 11 sections.
CASPer raters are required to complete a training session and accreditation before they are allowed to score CASPer responses. They are also trained to disregard typos or grammar mistakes when assessing your responses.
You won’t get to see how you did after you complete the test. Your CASPer score is automatically submitted to the medical schools you’re applying to.
CASPer Test Preparation
Although you can’t really study for the CASPer test, you can practice for it. You can answer sample test questions, take practice tests, and improve your comprehension to prepare.
1 | Review CASPer Test Sample Questions
Use sample questions as practice for your CASPer test. The scenarios and questions are just like the ones you’ll be asked on the real CASPer test, so you should take time to familiarize yourself. You can access sample questions on the CASPer website for free.
For reference, this is an example of a word-based CASPer scenario.
You are a customer. You are shopping at the pharmacy and see a young mother with her baby steal formula and walk out of the store. She seems well dressed and healthy. It doesn’t seem like anyone else in the store noticed this happening.
- What do you do?
- What are the ethical, legal, and psychological implications of your decision?
- Would your answer change if you were told this was the only time the mother did this?
2 | Practice Using If/Then Statements
There isn’t an exact right answer when it comes to the CASPer questions. The test is meant to gauge your professionalism and common sense decision making by asking what you would do in hypothetical scenarios where the ethics of the situation may not be clear.
It’s best to respond to the questions using if/then conditional statements. “If this is the case, then I would respond this way. However, if this is the case, then I would respond this way.”
Answering the questions like this demonstrates your ability to understand both sides of a situation, think ahead, and consider the possible consequences of your actions. It also allows you to reframe the problem by adding important context that’s not supplied by the intentionally vague scenario.
For example, say you’re in a classroom taking a test. You notice that your friend, Kevin, is cheating. What do you do?
A few possible answers could be:
“I would confront Kevin after class and ask him to admit to the teacher that he cheated. If Kevin refuses, then I would go to the teacher myself.”
“If during our interaction Kevin admits to me that he cheated but says it’s because he was busy taking care of his sick sister all night because his parents were away, then I would offer to help Kevin study and encourage him to let the teacher know about his family situation.”
3 | Take a Practice CASPer Test
While you won’t see your score even with a practice test, taking a practice CASPer will help you get used to the format and the kind of questions you can expect on the real CASPer.
CASPer offers practice tests, but they come at a cost. Use your own judgment based on how comfortable you were with the practice questions to determine whether or not you should pay for a practice test.
The practice test will give you a sense of the pace and timing as well as how you perform under pressure. If you’re on a budget, you can simulate a test with practice questions by setting your own manual timer. Move on to the next scenario and reset the timer after 5 minutes is up.
4 | Review Your Spelling, Grammar, and Word Choice
Although CASPer raters are trained to ignore spelling and grammar mistakes, you should still make an effort to keep mistakes to a minimum. A few minor grammatical errors aren’t a big deal, but major errors could impact the rater’s ability to understand your answer.
5 | Ensure You Can Type Fast Enough
Since you’re only allowed 5 minutes to respond to each scenario, it’s important that you’re able to type efficiently. If typing is a challenge for you, start practicing right away. There are also a number of online tools that can help.
How fast can you type? Find out at TypingTest.com.
6 | Get in the Right Headspace
Take the time to quiet your mind before taking the test. If you’re feeling nervous, focus on your breathing. Box breathing can help settle your nerves and clear your mind.
- Sit with your back straight.
- Exhale all of the air from your lungs.
- Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 4.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Don’t inhale for 4 seconds.
- Repeat this process 4 times.
This kind of intentional breathing will slow down your heart rate and keep you from panicking. It’s important to start the test feeling cool, calm, and collected.
During the test, remember not to rush. CASPer raters assign an overall score for each scenario, regardless, so it’s okay to miss a question or two. Take the full five minutes when answering the questions. If you’re automatically presented with the next scenario before completing the previous question, take a deep breath, and roll with the punches.
CASPer Preparation Dos and Don’ts
Follow our CASPer preparation Dos and Don’ts to help you prepare for your one-time test.
- DO visit the CASPer website and watch trial videos.
- DO register for the test at least 3 days in advance.
- DO perform the CASPer System Requirements Check at least 3 days prior to test day.
- DO practice taking the CASPer in the room where you will actually take the test.
- DO practice how many words you can type per minute while still maintaining accurate spelling and grammar.
- DO ensure your computer and webcam are fully functional.
- DO use up-to-date browsers like Chrome or Firefox.
- DO have a backup internet option available if possible, such as mobile data or portable Wi-Fi.
- DON’T purchase a CASPer course from an external company. If you want to take a practice test, do so directly through CASPer.
- DON’T assume spelling and grammar don’t matter at all. While graders are told to ignore spelling mistakes, too many mistakes can change the meaning or readability of your answers.
- DON’T go into your test unprepared. You can only take it once, so ensure you’ve adequately prepared.
How Do I Know If I Need to Take a CASPer Test?
Not every medical school requires the CASPer test, so how do you know if you’ll have to take it? The answer is a somewhat tedious one.
This is a list of every school and program that requires applicants to take the CASPer.
If the school or program you’re applying to is on that list, you’ll have to take the CASPer. If not, good luck with the rest of your medical school application!
How Do I Enroll for the CASPer Test?
First, you need to register your CASPer account.
To reserve your test:
- Click +Reserve new test.
- Select the country your program is located in.
- Select the language.
- Select the admissions cycle for your program(s).
- Select the program type(s) you’re applying to.
- Select the specific schools you’re applying to.
- Type your application/student ID numbers.
- Select the test date you want.
- Review the test reservation details.
- Enter your payment information.
- Confirm and submit the test reservation payment.
Make sure you register for the test at least 3 days in advance.
What Do I Need to Register for a CASPer Test?
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
Where Do I Take the CASPer Test?
The test is available online, so you can take it from anywhere, just so long as you have a computer and a reliable internet connection. Since the test will require your full concentration, it’s best to complete it somewhere quiet where you won’t be distracted or interrupted.
How Many Times Can You Take the CASPer?
You can only take the CASPer once. That said, your results are only good for one application cycle. If your medical school application is unsuccessful, you will need to take the CASPer again the next time you apply.
How Long Does it Take to Get CASPer Test Results?
You will not receive your CASPer test results. They are automatically sent to the medical schools of your choosing about 3 weeks after you take the test.
You will not receive any notification that your test results have been delivered. You can check whether or not your results were sent in the Past Tests section of your CASPer account. A green highlight means your test results have been delivered.
How Much Does the CASPer Test Cost?
It costs $12 for American students to take the test and an additional $12 for each school you want the results sent to.
How Long is the CASPer Sample Test?
The CASPer sample test is just as long as the real test. It takes about an hour or 1.5 hours to complete.
CASPer comprises 12 sections, 8 video-based scenarios and 4 word-based scenarios. Each scenario is followed by 3 questions. You only have five minutes to respond to the 3 questions after watching or reading the scenario.
How Many Hours of Preparation Are Needed for the CASPer Test?
That’s all up to you! It depends on how confident you feel in your typing and comprehension abilities. If you tend to get nervous or stressed under pressure, extra preparation will help you relax and feel comfortable on test day.
Do Spelling Mistakes Matter on the CASPer Test?
CASPer raters are trained to ignore spelling and grammar mistakes, but even so, the rater still needs to be able to comprehend your answer. Focus on answering the question to the best of your ability, as the content of your answer is definitely what matters most.
Do I Need to be Able to Type Fast for the CASPer Test?
It certainly helps! Since you’re only allotted five minutes to respond to each scenario, it’s important that you’re able to type quickly and legibly. If you’re worried about your typing abilities, start practicing right now. There are a number of free online typing tools that can help.
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