The CASPer test, the most recent addition to medical school applications, doesn’t assess your medical knowledge or even your ability to apply that knowledge. CASPer is designed to measure an applicant’s professionalism, ethical decision making, empathy, and communication skills. You may be wondering, if CASPer isn’t a test of your academics, how is the CASPer test scored?
In this post, we will cover how the CASPer test is scored, including information about the Raters, what specifically is being tested, and how scores are formulated.
When you’re done here, read our comprehensive CASPer Test Guide, which outlines everything you need to know about CASPer, including test logistics, how to prepare, and FAQs.
What is CASPer and Do You Need to Take the Test?
CASPer stands for “Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics.” True to its name, CASPer is a computer-based test designed to assess your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, empathy, professionalism, ethics, and bedside manner. In other words, CASPer measures the kind of person you are beyond your hard skills and grades.
While impressive grades, exceptional cognitive ability, and other hard skills are essential to every medical student and future physician, interpersonal skills and a strong bedside manner are also essential. Doctors must be able to communicate effectively with their patients. They need to listen closely to what their patients tell them in order to gather information and deduce what could be wrong with their health. Doctors also need to be able to clearly deliver an expansive range of challenging, and at times devastating, information to people in fragile emotional states.
CASPer was developed in 2010 by Harold Reiter and Kelly Dore at McMaster University’s Program for Educational Research and Development (PERD) in Canada to measure these interpersonal skills in medical school applicants. The test did not catch on immediately, but it has seen a recent surge in popularity that is showing no sign of slowing down. There are currently dozens of US medical schools that require applicants to take the CASPer.
Curious to know if you’ll have to take the test? New schools are added to the list every year. Find out which schools require applicants to take the CASPer.
How is the CASPer Test Scored?
CASPer is made up of 12 sections. There are 8 video-based scenarios and 4 word-based scenarios. Each scenario comes with 3 questions. Each of the video-based scenarios are SJTs (Situational Judgment Tests), and the word-based scenarios are a blend of SJTs and behavioral descriptor questions. Generally, the scenarios are not based in a clinical setting. For example, you could be in a grocery store or at a party with friends.
CASPer is not a long test. In total, the test takes about 100 minutes to complete, and that includes an introduction and an optional ten minute break at the halfway point. You are given 5 minutes to type your responses for each answer section.
Below we’ll cover:
- What CASPer Tests
- How You Are Assessed/Scored
- Who Assesses Your Test
- Obtaining Your CASPer Score
1| What CASPer Tests
CASPer is a test of your soft skills, such as your ability to listen and communicate with peers and patients, as well as your ability to effectively empathize with others.
CASPer tests for the following 10 Constructs:
- Problem solving
There’s a lot more to being a doctor than excelling at science. Patients need to be able to trust their doctor with a great deal of sensitive information, and they need to believe their doctor has their best interests at heart. If a patient doesn’t trust your judgment or advice, then you have failed in your role. A perfect 528 on the MCAT doesn’t effectively demonstrate an applicant’s ability to connect with patients in this way, which is why the CASPer test was created.
2| How You Are Assessed/Scored
Each section of the CASPer is scored by a unique Rater, meaning no two sections of your test will be graded by the same person. Your CASPer score is therefore composed of 12 independent impressions of you. Raters are not provided with any personal information about you, they don’t know anything about what you look like or where you’re from, and they don’t know how you answered the other 11 sections. Raters are only provided with your typed reply to the specific section they are scoring.
CASPer is scored using a Likert-style scale that runs from 1 to 9, 1 being an unsatisfactory response, and 9 being an ideal response. Raters are also not provided with any kind of answer key—they are given general information about which central concepts and ideas are essential to each scenario. Therefore, CASPer isn’t necessarily made up of right or wrong answers.
While there are some clues to what assessors are specifically looking for, in general, it’s best to answer questions from the most ethical and equal standpoint, ensuring laws are abided by, and each person in the scenario has equal representation. One thing assessors are definitely looking for are any potential red flags, such as anything in the response that could be construed as unethical, unprofessional, harmful, or dangerous.
Assessors are trained to focus on the content of your answer, not on your grammar or spelling. That said, it’s important to ensure you are able to get your points across clearly. If your answer is full of glaring grammar and spelling errors, the Rater may not be able to understand what you are trying to say, and they therefore won’t be able to give you a good score.
Although each section has three questions, your score is based on your overall performance in that section. So if you run out of time and miss a question, it’s possible that you will not incur a penalty—as long as your initial response is professional, appropriate, and comprehensive. Still, it’s important to answer all three of the questions if you can.
3| Who Assesses Your Test
To reiterate, each section of the CASPer test is scored by a different assessor who has no idea who you are or how you responded to the other 11 sections. Your CASPer score consists of 12 independent and objective assessments of you.
CASPer Raters are required to complete a training session and accreditation before they are permitted to score CASPer responses. CASPer Raters can come from a range of different industries, not just medical. Raters must reside in the same country as the test takers they’re evaluating and have knowledge and experience of the culture of the country. In an effort to build a diverse group of Raters, Altus encourages people from all walks of life to apply.
When hiring CASPer Raters, the following qualities are sought after:
- An analytical mindset
- Attention to detail
- Comfort working with technology
- A continuous improvement mindset
- A strong alignment with Altus’ Mission and Values
4| Obtaining Your CASPer Score
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see your score after you complete the test. Your CASPer score is automatically submitted to the medical schools you’re applying to, similar to the way you don’t see your letters of recommendation before they are sent.
Your CASPer score is made available to the programs on your distribution list two to three weeks after you take the test, but you will not receive an email saying that your results have been delivered. Instead, you need to visit the Reservations section of your Altus Suite account. If your results were delivered, you will see “Completed—Results delivered.” If your CASPer score hasn’t been sent yet, you will see, “Completed—Results pending.” It may take a while for individual programs to update the status of your CASPer score in their system.
Your CASPer score is only valid for one application cycle. If your medical school application is unsuccessful and you need to reapply the following year, you will need to take the CASPer test again.
CASPer is designed to provide admissions committees with an evaluation of the kind of person you are beyond your hard skills, grades, and other credentials. Very few aspects of the medical school application inform admissions committees about your soft skills and bedside manner. Someone who looks excellent on paper may be completely ineffectual when it comes to dealing with patients in a professional and ethical way—and that’s where CASPer comes in.
While the exact method used to grade your responses is tough to determine, CASPer Raters are not looking for a right or wrong answer—they’re looking for mature, professional, ethical responses that touch on as many dimensions of the question as possible. Assessors want to see that you have recognized and considered the wide-reaching implications of the scenario for everyone involved, just as professional physicians have to do every day.
Prepare for CASPer With Med School Insiders
Although you can’t study for CASPer, you can and should 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 sample questions, and prepare you with the methods you need to crush your CASPer test.