2023 Casper Test Guide: Scoring, Preparation, and FAQs

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Meet Casper—a major component of the Altus Suite. 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. To make matters even more frustrating, you won’t receive an exact score for the Casper test. 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. Instead, you’ll only find out how you did in relation to your fellow test takers, and weeks after your actual Casper scores have arrived at the schools of your choosing.

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.

NOTE: Altus Assessments posted a notice that it is changing to Acuity Insights. Expect changes at some point in the beginning of 2023, when the new cycle begins.

 

What is the Casper Test and How Does it Fit Within the Altus Suite?

Casper measures the kind of person you are beyond your grades and hard skills. It is one of three components within the Altus Suite, a multi-part assessment designed to evaluate a prospective medical student’s people skills and bedside manner.

  • Casper is a 100-120 minute situational judgment test.
  • Snapshot is a short, one-way video interview.
  • Duet is a value-alignment assessment.

Altus Suite descriptions of Casper, Snapshot, Duet

Learn more: Understanding Altus Suite: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet

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:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Equity
  • Ethics
  • Motivation
  • Problem Solving
  • Professionalism
  • Resilience
  • Self-Awareness

What does Casper assess? assessment icons

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 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.

Read our guide to every school and program that requires applicants to take the Casper.

 

How Long is the Casper Test?

Casper takes about 100-120 minutes to complete, including an introduction and two optional breaks. The test is composed of 15 scenarios, some video-based and some word-based. Each scenario is followed by three open-ended questions.

The scenarios are a blend of SJTs (Situational Judgment Tests) 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.

The test is divided into two response sections, a typed response section and a video response section. 

Casper Test Format infographic

The typed response section asks you to type your responses to three word-based scenarios and six video-based scenarios. You will be asked to respond to three corresponding questions after being presented with each scenario. You have five minutes to type your responses to the three questions before you are automatically advanced to the next scenario.

If you submit your answers before your five minutes are up or your timer runs out, your responses are saved and uploaded automatically. You cannot go back and change your answers.

The video response section asks you to record a video of yourself verbally responding to two word-based scenarios and four video-based scenarios. You will once again be asked three questions after being presented with each scenario. You are allotted one minute to record a video response to each question. Once your one minute is up, your response is automatically uploaded. You are not able to watch the recording back or change your answer.

 

Casper Test Dates

Girl on computer with calendar 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.

View the latest Casper test dates and times.

 

How is the Casper Test Scored?

Casper Scoring ghost and computer

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 multiple independent impressions of you. Raters are only given your reply; they are not provided with any personal information about you, and they don’t know how you answered the other 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 about two to three weeks after you take the test. That said, around a month after you take the test, you will receive a “quartile” indicating how you performed on the typed response section in relation to the other applicants who took the Casper test.

This is how the quartiles break down:

  • 25% of applicants score in the first quartile (0-24 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the second quartile (25-49 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the third quartile (50-74 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the fourth quartile (75-100 percentile)

If you land in the fourth quartile, it means the raters judged your typed answers as superior to 75% of your peers. If you land in the first quartile, it means the raters felt 75% of your peers provided answers that were more comprehensive and empathetic than yours.

Initially, Altus is only sending your typed response scores to all participating schools, and your quartile results are also only based on your typed responses. Results from the video response section will be shared with a handful of programs selected by Altus and used to help them responsibly evolve the Casper assessment.

This means:

1. You still need to prepare for the video response section, even though your results are not included in your initial Casper score.

2. You can expect Altus will continue to make changes and evolve the Casper test.

Learn more about How the Casper Test is Scored.

 

Casper Test Preparation

Casper Prep with ghost and computer

Although you can’t really study for the Casper test, you can practice for it. You can answer sample test questions, take practice tests, improve your reading comprehension, and record and review video responses 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 take time to familiarize yourself with them. You can access sample questions on the Casper website for free.

Find sample Casper questions.

For reference, this is an example of a word-based Casper scenario.

Prompt:

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.

Questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. What are the ethical, legal, and psychological implications of your decision?
  3. 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 a practice test that is available when you access your Altus Suite account. Navigate to the Casper section, and complete Step 1: System requirements check. Next, proceed to Step 2: Practice Casper.

Use your own judgment based on how comfortable you were with the practice questions to determine whether or not you need more preparation.

The practice test will give you a sense of the pace and timing of Casper as well as how you perform under pressure. You can also simulate a test with practice questions by setting your own manual timer.

In the case of the typed responses, read or watch the scenario and then set a timer for five minutes. Type your answers to the three questions as quickly and comprehensively as possible within the allotted five minutes. Move onto the next scenario after the five minutes is up, and reset the timer.

In the case of video responses, read or watch the scenario and then read the first question. Set a one minute timer and see how quickly and comprehensively you can respond. Once the timer is up, move onto the next question and reset the timer.

4 | Record Yourself and Review it Back

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the video response format. In order to succeed on the video response section, you need to practice getting your answers across clearly and effectively within the one minute time limit.

If you use Mac, use PhotoBooth, and if you use PC, use Camera to record yourself responding to each question within one minute. Watch the recording back to see how you performed. Are you speaking clearly? Do you look confident? Are you making consistent eye contact with the camera? Are you able to provide a comprehensive response within the one minute time frame?

Make adjustments where you feel you need them, and ask for feedback from trusted friends, family members, or tutors. Continue practicing until you’re happy with the results.

Learn more about how to succeed on the video response section of the Casper test.

Casper Video Response Strategies list

5 | 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.

6 | Ensure You Can Type Effectively

Since you’re only allowed five minutes to respond to the three questions asked after each scenario in the typed response section, 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.

7 | Get in the Right Headspace

Take 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.

Box Breathing:

  • 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.

Box Breathing step by step instructions

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, so it’s okay to miss a question. In the typed response section, take the full five minutes when answering the questions. In the video response section, take the full minute to respond to each question as comprehensively, empathetically, and equitably as possible. If you’re automatically presented with the next scenario or question before completing the previous question, take a deep breath, and roll with the punches.

Want more advice? Review our 15 different Casper preparation strategies that will help you succeed on test day.

 

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 double check the date and time of your test, ensuring you account for any time zone differences. Test times are in EDT/EST unless otherwise indicated.
  • 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 familiarize yourself with the unique Casper test format, including recording answers to practice questions within the one minute time frame for video reponses.
  • DO perform face and vocal exercises to warm up before the video response section begins.
  • 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.
  • DO let any roommates know you are taking the Casper test to ensure you are not interrupted or distracted.

 

  • DON’T purchase a Casper test from an external company. If you want to take a practice test, do so directly through Casper.
  • DON’T dress unprofessionally for your video responses—no pajamas or revealing clothing.
  • 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.

Casper Test Checklist

 

Casper FAQs

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 Altus Suite account.

To reserve your test:

  1. Click ‘+ Reserve new test’ on the Altus Suite homepage.
  2. Select the country which the program(s) you are applying to reside in.
  3. Select the language you would like to use when taking the Casper test, if applicable.
  4. Select the admission cycle for your program(s).
  5. Select the program type(s) you are applying to.
  6. Select the school(s) you are applying to (more can be added later).
  7. If prompted, type the application/student ID number(s) into the text field(s).
  8. Select your desired test date.
  9. Review your test reservation details.
  10. Input your payment information.
  11. Confirm and submit your test reservation payment.

Make sure you register for the test at least 3 days in advance.

All fees are non-refundable. 

What Do I Need to Register for a Casper Test?

To register for a Casper test, you must create an Altus Suite account with the following:

  • Government-issued photo ID (English/French)
  • Valid email address
  • Working webcam
  • Working microphone
  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • Reliable high-speed internet connection (Chrome or Firefox)

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.

Why Was a Video Component Added to Casper?

Starting with the 2022/2023 application cycle, there is a video response section on the Casper test that requires test takers to respond to questions with live recorded video responses.

Altus Suite decided to add this component after receiving complaints from test takers that Casper was essentially a speed typing test. In response to this feedback, Casper decided to add a verbal response section.

How Long Does it Take to Get Casper Test Results?

You will not receive your exact Casper test results. They are automatically sent to the medical schools of your choosing approximately two-three weeks after you take the test.

However, you will receive a “quartile” that indicates how you performed on the typed response section compared to your peers about a month after you take the test—after the schools you’re applying to have already received your score.

Quartiles break down like this:

  • 25% of applicants score in the first quartile (0-24 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the second quartile (25-49 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the third quartile (50-74 percentile)
  • 25% of applicants score in the fourth quartile (75-100 percentile)

If you land in the second quartile, it means your responses were judged as inferior to 50% of the other test takers, but superior to 25% of test takers.

How Much Does the Casper Test 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 results to. The fees you pay when you reserve your Casper test covers all applicable parts, including Snapshot and Duet.

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, reading comprehension, and verbal responses. 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.

Still have questions? We covered 16 of the most common Casper questions in our Casper Test FAQ.

 

Casper Prep With Med School Insiders

Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every aspect of your medical school application—including Casper. Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved in the process.

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