Just because you can’t study for Casper doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. The Casper test is a unique and fast-paced experience, which means the more familiar and experienced with the format you are, the better you will perform. Comprehensive Casper test preparation will give you the confidence you need to answer clearly and effectively during both the typed and video response sections of the test.
What matters most is how well prepared and confident you feel. After completing practice questions, do you feel rushed, flustered, or unsure of yourself? If so, it’s important to commit yourself to more dedicated practice. Below we’ll outline 15 different strategies that will help you succeed on your Casper test.
What is Casper and What Does It Test?
Casper stands for “Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics.” True to its name, Casper is a computer-based test designed to measure the kind of person you are beyond your grades and hard skills; it’s an assessment of your professionalism, social intelligence, and bedside manner.
Casper evaluates applicants based on the following 10 Constructs:
- Problem Solving
Learn how the Casper test is scored and what raters are looking for.
For more information on Casper test logistics, scoring, and frequently asked questions, read our comprehensive Casper test guide.
Casper is not a test you can study for traditionally, but there is plenty you can do to prepare and familiarize yourself with the Casper format.
Preparing for Casper: 15 Casper Test Tips
1. Familiarize Yourself With the Format
Casper is different from any other test you’ve taken in the past. Casper has a unique format that was recently updated to include a mandatory video component.
The Casper test is made up of 15 real-world situations where an ethical dilemma is presented, and you’re asked to explain what you would do. There are two kinds of scenarios: word-based scenarios and video-based scenarios.
The test is divided into two response sections, a typed response section and a video response section.
The typed response section asks you to type your responses to three word-based scenarios and six video-based scenarios.
After being presented with a scenario, you will be asked three open-ended questions. You have five minutes to answer each of the three questions before you are automatically advanced to the next scenario. If your timer runs out or you submit your answers before your five minutes are up, your responses are automatically saved. You cannot go back and change your answers.
The video response section asks you to respond verbally through video to two word-based scenarios and four video-based scenarios.
After being presented with a scenario, you will be asked three open-ended questions. For each question, you are allotted one minute to record a video response. After the one minute is up, your response is automatically uploaded, and you are not able to review or change your answer.
2. Review Practice Passages
Practice for Casper with sample questions. The scenarios and their corresponding questions are just like the real thing, so get familiar with them. You can find sample Casper questions on the Altus Suite website for free.
For reference, this is an example of a word-based Casper scenario.
This is a prompt called Paying a Price:
Think of a time when you had to make a sacrifice in order to accomplish a goal.
- Briefly describe the situation and the sacrifice you made.
- Do you regret your decision to make the sacrifice? Why or why not?
- Did you learn anything from this situation that can be applied to your desired career? Explain your response.
3. Practice Within the Test Format
Take a practice Casper test on Altus Suite to help you get used to the format and the kinds of questions you’ll be asked to respond to on the real Casper test.
Casper offers a practice test that is available when you access your Altus Suite account. Navigate to the Casper section. Complete Step 1: System Requirements Check. Next, proceed to Step 2: Practice Casper.
Gauge your comfort level with the practice questions in order to determine how much preparation you need. The practice test will show you how you perform under pressure and demonstrate the pace and timing of Casper.
You can also simulate a test with practice questions by setting a timer for yourself. Once five minutes are up, reset the timer and move on to the next scenario. Or, in the case of video responses, set a timer for one minute to practice verbally responding to each question within that time frame.
4. Practice Answering With If/Then Statements
There aren’t exactly right or wrong answers on the Casper test. Casper is designed to evaluate your ethical and common sense decision making and professionalism by placing you in hypothetical, ethically-murky scenarios.
Since this is the case, it’s best to answer the questions with if/then conditional statements. “If this is true, then I would respond this way. But if this is actually true, then I would respond this way.”
Responding to the questions in this fashion shows that you’re able to see and comprehend both sides of a situation as well as the possible consequences of your decisions. If/then statements also enable you to add important context to the situation that’s not supplied by the scenarios, which are designed to be intentionally vague.
For example, say you’re in a college bookstore. You witness a student take a medical textbook and leave the store without paying. What do you do?
Some possible answers could be:
“I would confront the student and demand they return to the store and pay. If they refuse, then I will report them to the staff and encourage them to call the police.”
“If during my confrontation with the student, they tell me it’s their dream to become a doctor, but they cannot afford all of the exorbitant costs, then I would offer to pay for the textbook myself and offer to help them look into financial aid opportunities.”
5. Mitigate Distractions
On the big day, you can’t afford to become distracted. Casper is a timed test, and if you’re thrown off of your game by a notification or a roommate (pets and parents included) knocking on your door, it could really hinder your performance.
Plus, a portion of the test requires video-based responses. If you become distracted while recording your answer verbally, you may not be able to get your point across in time, and it will be difficult to recover mentally.
Turn off your phone, or leave it in another room entirely. You won’t need it while you’re taking the Casper.
You need a quiet and distraction-free environment in which to take Casper, and you can’t afford to be interrupted. So if you live with other people, let them know what Casper is and when you will be taking the test. Since people are naturally forgetful, put a sign on the door as a reminder. Or better yet, ask your roommates to leave the house or apartment for a couple of hours.
Life is noisy. What if a roommate decides to make a meal while you’re recording your timed verbal answer, and they set off the smoke detector?
Maintaining your focus is critical. Do whatever is necessary to preserve it.
6. Prepare Your Technology
Taking an online test relies on up-to-date technology. Ensure you have the proper browsers installed on your computer. Chrome and Firefox are the only supported browsers.
Run a system requirements check in the space where you intend to take the test using the same technology and internet connection you plan to use during the Casper test.
Additionally, here are the technical requirements outlined by Altus Suite for the day of your test:
- Download an updated version of both Chrome and Firefox here. Please note that only these two web browsers are supported.
- Restart your computer.
- Close all other applications (e.g., Skype).
- Use an incognito/Private browser.
- Disable any Firewall or pop-up blockers.
- Disable all plug-ins and extensions (e.g., Grammarly).
- Deactivate your Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Chrome or Firefox.
- Log in to your Altus Suite account approximately thirty minutes before your scheduled test time.
You will need a working webcam for the duration of your Casper test and a microphone to record your answers during the video component. Invest in either an external USB microphone or one built into your headphones. Even though your laptop has a built-in microphone, depending on your model, these can be quite lousy at clearly picking up recorded audio.
On test day, make sure your laptop is fully charged and you have a power cord nearby, just in case. Don’t let a simple tech issue, such as not having an up-to-date browser installed or running out of battery power, affect your mindset on test day.
7. Test Your Connection (And Have a Backup)
Your ability to complete the Casper test is reliant on a secure internet connection.
Casper is taken online, which means any interruption to your connection will drastically hinder your chances of success. A lost internet connection could cause you to miss a question, or even if you get back online quickly, a dropped connection could completely throw off your groove and mindset.
Make sure you have a strong and reliable internet connection for test day. Test your connection in advance using a website such as fast.com. Ideally, you’re looking for an internet speed of 1.5 Mbps or more and an upload speed of 2 Mbps or more.
If you live with roommates, this is another great chance to inform them of your needs on test day. Let them know you will be relying on a strong internet connection. Ask them not to put any heavy burden on your service while you’re taking your test, such as downloading a TV series, playing online video games, or restarting the modem.
If possible, have a backup option available just in case. This could be a portable Wi-Fi device, or you could utilize your cellular data plan to grab an emergency personal hotspot connection on your computer.
8. Get in the Right Headspace
Take time to get in the right headspace before you take Casper. Understandably, there’s a lot of pressure for premeds around test taking. Ensure you enter your Casper test cool, calm, and collected.
Do all that you can leading up to test day to calm your nerves and feel at ease. Take some time away from studying to participate in a relaxing activity you enjoy, meditate, and practice mindfulness in whatever form you feel most comfortable with.
9. Pay Attention to Your Breathing
If you have thoroughly prepared and practiced, there’s no reason to be anxious about Casper. That said, if you do feel stressed or anxious, the best way to clear your mind and control your nerves is to focus on your breathing. Box breathing, a technique practiced by US Navy Seals, can help you quiet your mind and find focus.
- 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.
It’s important to start this test calm and focused. Breathing intentionally in this fashion slows down your heart rate, which will prevent you from panicking.
Remember not to rush during Casper. It’s okay to miss a question or two, as Casper raters assign an overall score to each scenario. In the typed response section, take the full five minutes, and in the video response section, take the full minute or as long as you need to thoroughly respond to each question. If you’re automatically moved to the next scenario or question before you’re ready, take a deep breath, and stay calm. Keep moving forward.
Tips for Casper Test Typed Response
10. Improve Your Typing Speed
While typing is only a small piece of preparing for Casper, having strong typing skills will allow you to focus on your answers rather than your keyboard.
Casper is a timed test, so being able to type quickly and legibly is to your advantage. Being able to type fast with few errors also means you won’t need to go back and fix mistakes as frequently, and the raters will easily be able to understand the points you are trying to convey.
Raters are trained not to penalize you for spelling and grammatical errors, but you still need to get your point across effectively. If your response is filled with errors, it may be tough for your raters to decipher what you are trying to say. You could also change the meaning of your answer entirely with a simple typo.
For example, there’s a big difference between: “I would offer to help that individual” versus “I wouldn’t offer to help that individual.”
The complete meaning of your response can be altered by misspelling a word or missing an apostrophe.
11. Hone Your Reading Comprehension
While some of the scenarios are video-based, you will need to read and fully comprehend the word-based scenarios within a limited amount of time.
Reading comprehension is an incredibly useful skill for your Casper test, the MCAT CARS section, and your life in general. Being able to quickly understand what you read is an invaluable skill to have—especially in a profession like medicine, which is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.
Reading comprehension is a skill, and like any skill, it requires dedicated practice to improve.
One way to improve your reading comprehension is through active reading. Active reading is when we thoroughly engage with a text by asking questions, challenging the author’s point of view, making personal connections, rereading what we don’t understand, and focusing on the author’s use of language to deeply understand the author’s true intentions.
It’s also a good idea to force yourself to read challenging texts. As a premed, you’re probably no stranger to difficult texts—and things are only going to get more challenging in medical school. Build this skill now for greater success down the line.
For more strategies to improve your reading comprehension, read our guide: How to Improve Reading Comprehension — 10 Strategies.
Tips for Casper Test Video Response
12. Record and Review Practice Questions
Being in front of a camera isn’t for everyone. Many of us are sensitive about our speaking voice and looks, so the idea of a video response section may seem very daunting. This is completely understandable and something many, many of your fellow applicants are feeling as well.
The only way to truly get over your nerves is through plenty of practice and experience. The more you expose yourself to something, the less nerve-wracking it is. Practice recording yourself responding to Casper sample questions. If you’re a Mac user, utilize apps like Photo Booth. If you’re a PC user, utilize apps like Camera.
Review the video afterward and identify areas you think you could improve. Ask a trusted friend or family member to review your recording and provide you with feedback as well.
While it can be tough to watch yourself on camera, it’s something you will need to get used to, as interviewing is an essential skill to master when applying to medical school and then residency. If the programs you’re applying to require Snapshot as well as Casper, it’s a good idea to get as comfortable as possible with speaking into a camera.
Focus on the substance of your answers. Are you able to respond articulately and succinctly within the five minute time frame? Keep practicing until you feel confident.
13. Complete Vocal and Face Exercises
Do you stretch before going for a jog or hitting the gym? If your friend was about to compete in a marathon without stretching and warming up first, what would you say to them?
While you won’t pull a muscle in your face, you will very likely trip over your words. Speaking too fast, slurring your speech, and getting tongue-tied will make it more difficult for the Casper raters to understand what you’re saying. Speaking clearly will help you feel more confident, and it will ensure the raters understand the full substance of your responses.
Warm up your mouth by quickly repeating tongue twisters, such as, “red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather,” and “the tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips.”
Focus on enunciating every syllable of the words. Exaggerate the movements of your mouth; make them way bigger than they need to be. Imagine you’ve just stuffed ten pieces of gum into your mouth. Chew the words up. How fast can you say the above phrases articulately?
Performing these vocal warmups will loosen up your mouth, helping you to speak confidently and clearly while responding to the Casper questions.
Use face yoga to loosen up your face. You want to appear engaged and confident instead of remote and robotic. Open up your mouth and eyes as wide as possible like you’re about to scream. Hold this position for a few seconds, then do the exact opposite. Shrink your face as tiny as possible, wrinkling your nose, squeezing your eyes shut, and pinching your lips together. Alternate between these positions to liven up and relax the muscles in your face.
Record yourself answering Casper practice questions to ensure you are clearly enunciating and appear engaged while you are speaking.
14. Watch Your Posture
Sitting up straight with good posture has benefits that are twofold.
First, you will look more engaged and prepared when sitting up straight. Casper is a measure of your professionalism, and while the raters are trained not to focus on your physical attributes or clothing choices, they’re still human. It’s important to project confidence. And not only that but sitting up straight will make you feel more confident. You are a future medical professional. Carry yourself with the dignity and authority demanded of your profession.
Secondly, sitting up straight means you won’t be compressing your vocal cords. Keeping your back straight and your shoulders back will help you speak more clearly and confidently.
15. Make It a Conversation
Think of the video response section as a conversation. Visualize speaking to someone on the other end of your camera (because you are.) Practice making eye contact with your camera while you are speaking. Use hand gestures to make it feel more natural and to emphasize your points.
Making eye contact and using hand gestures are also excellent interview techniques. It shows you are actively participating in the conversation, and it keeps the person you’re speaking with engaged. While this may feel unnatural within the Casper format, you are, in fact, engaging with someone on the other side of the camera who will be rating the substance of your answer. Keep this in mind as you practice.
The new video response section of the Casper test requires a whole set of new preparation strategies. Read our full guide to the Casper video response section, which includes frequently asked questions and strategies for video response success.
Still have questions? Read our Casper Test FAQ.
Prepare for Casper 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 Casper.
We’ll walk you through the entire process, provide you with Casper sample questions, and prepare you with the methods you need to dominate your Casper test. Browse our wide range of resources, which includes articles and guides on the Casper test, the MCAT, the medical school application process, and more.