More and more medical schools have started adopting various forms of virtual screening assessments to support their holistic admissions strategy. Let's look at at the most common ones.
The most common one is CASPer is a situational judgement test and an online screening tool adopted by a growing number of medical and other health profession 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 email@example.com 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.
NEW! In August 2020, Altus unveiled CASPer Snapshot, another shorter form of virtual, asynchronous testing consisting of just three questions, which candidates only have two minutes to answer--on video--with no retakes. Responses are then sent to the allopathic and osteopathic medical schools that require the CASPer test. It is up to the discretion of the individual medical schools how they will use the answers.
Association of American Medical Colleges Situational Judgment Test (AAMC SJT)
NEW! With the 2020-2021 application cycle, the University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities and the University of California Davis School of Medicine have adopted the Association of American Medical Colleges Situational Judgment Test (AAMC SJ). The test will be offered at no cost to applicants at least during this pilot year; it will be administered online and supported by remote proctoring; and is expected to be available in September 2020. Like other forms of SJT, the AAMC SJT is designed to provide a standardized assessment of the pre-professional competencies needed to succeed in medical school. The AAMC has created free resources to help you prepare for the AAMC SJT exam, including a practice test. See this site for general information about the AAMC SJT, how to register to take it, FAQs, and more.
NEW: AAMC VITA, Video Interview Tool for Admissions
Also new for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle is the AAMC VITA, which was designed to provide admissions officers with information about your journey toward medicine and five of the 15 core competencies for entering medical students, specifically: Social Skills; Cultural Competence; Teamwork; Reliability and Dependability; and Resilience and Adaptability. The questions are designed to be unrelated to specific medical experience. Questions are a combination of: medical school journey questions; past behavior questions, and situational questions.
AAMC VITA was designed to complement the live interview process but each participating medical school will determine how it will incorporate it into its process--for example, as part of the initial application screening, secondary screening, or as a complement to the traditional interview process. As with in-person interviews, you must be invited by a medical school to complete the AAMC VITA interview. However, you will only need to do this interview once even though multiple schools may require it. There is no scoring, computerized assessment, or artificial intelligence technology involved. See more information about what AAMC VITA measures and sample questions. You can use Zoom, Skype, or other video platforms to complete the VITA interview. See these resources developed by the AAMC to prepare for the AAMC VITA and be sure to do the practice interview to familiarize yourself with the platform, which is powered by HireVue. If applicable, be sure to request accommodations well in advance.
If you want to see a silver lining in this process, remember that CASPer/CASPer Snapshot, AAMC SJT and AAMC VITA can be good preparation in light of your future MMIs and traditional interviews!