CASPer is a situational judgement test and an online screening tool adopted by a number of medical schools to evaluate certain key personal and professional characteristics relevant to the medical profession, such as professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy. The incorporation of CASPer into the holistic review process is an additional way to evaluate each applicant as an individual, weighing personal attributes in equal or similar measure with academic metrics and life experiences. Similar to the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), CASPer is designed to evaluate core personal characteristics. However, while the MMI is used to assess these personal attributes in the interview phase, CASPer results are considered a reliable and predictive screening tool to assess personal attributes in the pre-interview screening phase of the holistic review process. Not all medical schools employ CASPer in the same way: some use it more as a pre-screening tool leading up to a possible interview offer, others more as a part of the whole review process in general; some schools may recommend applicants to take it, others require it.
The CASPer test is composed of 12 sections. Each section contains either a brief video- or word-based scenario, followed by a series of three open-ended questions for which you will have five minutes to answer. Each situation relates to one or more personal characteristics. You will be asked how you would respond or behave in the situation portrayed. See abbreviated sample test for illustrative purposes. The limited time to type your answers and the requirement to use a computer with a webcam are linked to security issues (i.e., ensuring that test takers are not consulting with others, or having someone else taking the test on their behalf, etc.).
The CASPer test is administered by Altus Assessments and has fees involved. You will have to register for the test at least three days in advance and will be given an opportunity to ensure your computer meets the technical requirements first. If you need to request accommodations, submit your supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org at least three weeks in advance of your targeted test date. Be sure to read CASPer's FAQ.
In terms of preparation, here are a few basic tips:
- Although no special training, discipline-specific knowledge or experience are required to take CASPer, you will benefit from familiarizing yourself with the test format, timing and the technical environment in which the test will be provided, and by reflecting on the key competencies a medical school admissions committee may be looking for because it is these competencies that are likely to be tested in your CASPer. Familiarization with the test format will also reduce anxiety and prevent annoying technical issues on test day.
- If you wish to practice with a few scenarios, see these MMI's preparation resources. For this type of test, remember to practice in writing, not orally, aiming for concise and clear answers stating your position.
- During the test it is important that you read each scenario carefully using only the information provided in the video or statement to formulate your responses, striving not to make assumptions or at least being cognizant of the assumptions you may be making. Your honest answers should draw from your general knowledge and life experience.
- Don't be overly concerned with grammar and spelling when typing your answers. Supposedly, raters are asked to ignore spelling and grammar errors, so remember to focus on the general concepts you want to share. Even incomplete sentences are acceptable as long as your responses and position about each prompt are clearly stated. Similarly to MMI's scenarios, medical schools are not looking for a right or wrong answer, but rather for evidence of your reasoning and rationale.
If you want to see a silver lining in this process, remember that CASPer can be good preparation in light of your upcoming MMI's!