MUA’s guide to preparing for the CASPer test
If you are applying to medical school, you’ll know only too well about many of the needed requirements, but do you know about the CASPer test? Some medical schools require applicants to take the CASPer test as part of their medical school application. Aspiring medical school students will need to take the test and submit their results as part of their medical school application.
If you aren’t familiar with the CASPer test, don’t worry. Read on to find out how you can prepare for the test with our CASPer test tips.
What is the CASPer test?
CASPer stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics developed by researchers at McMaster University in Canada. It is a test used by medical schools to evaluate applicants’ non-cognitive abilities and measure such traits as ethics, empathy, communication, and professionalism.
CASPer test questions consist of written or video prompts, where participants need to provide their thoughts on the cases. This might be how you would resolve the situation or how your perspective may change if one of the variables was different. All answers must be given in a limited number of characters in a set time. Your responses are reviewed by multiple trained CASPer evaluators who provide you with a final aggregate score.
For medical school applicants, the CASPer test acts as a behavioral interview that mimics what may happen during their medical school interviews. More than 50 Medical Doctor (MD) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) programs in the United States require applicants to submit CASPer test scores.
What is the CASPer test measuring?
The CASPer test evaluates several different personality traits to give medical schools an insight into applicants’ behavioral tendencies. They want to see how prospective medical students respond in certain scenarios and understand how they think and how they come to make certain decisions in difficult situations.
The CASPer test measures 10 key competencies:
What format does the CASPer test follow?
The CASPer test contains 12 sections, and each one comprises a written or video-based scenario and three open-ended questions. You have a total of five minutes to type out your responses before the test automatically moves on to the next section.
Most of the questions asked aren’t related to medicine. The scenarios aim to replicate real-world situations that the candidate will have likely come across at some point. The questions typically deal with interpersonal conflicts, ethical dilemmas, and open-ended scenarios where the correct answer is ambiguous. These scenarios provide a useful insight into how the candidate thinks.
The test takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete, with an option of taking a 15-minute break halfway through the test. While spelling, grammar, and punctuation aren’t graded, the candidate will have to think on their feet, type out, and submit their responses quickly.
What are some CASPer test questions?
The CASPer test uses a variety of questions and scenarios to test your non-cognitive abilities. Here are three CASPer test sample questions:
Example test question: Paternity leave
A co-worker’s wife is pregnant, and he is unsure whether he should take paternity leave. While he and his wife would like him to spend quality time with the baby at home, doing so could stop him from being considered for an upcoming promotion at work. Which should the man prioritize, his career or family? The industry he works in doesn’t typically support men who take paternity, and a colleague was penalized for previously taking leave.
- Do you think he should take paternity leave, and why?
- What strategies could help him decide what to do?
- Maintaining a work-life balance is often challenging. Why do people struggle to find balance?
Example test question: Store policy exception
You manage a retail store, and a man comes in to return a toy for a refund. However, he doesn’t have the original receipt. The cashier tells him that due to store policy, she can only offer him store credit. The man explains that his daughter has pneumonia and needs the cash to pay for her prescriptions. He asks for there to be an exception made for him. The cashier turns to you.
- In your role as store manager, would you refund this customer and why?
- If you stick with the store policy, how can you refuse the fund in an empathetic way?
- What do you think is an essential quality to have when working in customer service? Explain your answer.
Example test question: Suspected plagiarism
You are a college professor, and you have a student who struggles with writing and often doesn’t hand in quality work. During the semester, you notice the quality of their work has significantly improved. You suspect that the student has been plagiarizing, but you cannot find any evidence to prove that it is not their work.
- Would you confront the student, and if so, what would you say to them?
- The student is on probation and will face expulsion if found guilty of plagiarism. Would this affect what you do about the situation?
- Is it important to give people the benefit of the doubt?
How to prepare for the CASPer test?
As the CASPer test is focused on behavior, there are no right or wrong answers. Graders will look at how you respond to each scenario and the reasoning behind your answers. While standard pre-exam coaching may not be an effective preparation tool, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the test:
- Test the software, including your webcam on your computer, to make sure they are working before test day. CASPer does offer systems check, and it’s a good idea to run that in advance
- Take the free CASPer practice test to get familiar with the question format and the timing before you do the test for real
- Before the test, read up on topics like medical ethics, ethical decision making, mediation, conflict resolution, and problem-solving
- Plan your schedule so you can complete your CASPer test in a quiet and comfortable location
- Log in to your CASPer account 30 minutes before your test and go to the testing page to wait for the countdown timer to run down
CASPer test tips
If you find the prospect of taking the CASPer test daunting, here are some CASPer test tips to help:
- Have a general framework prepared to help guide and structure your answers.
- Don’t leave any answers blank because you are unsure how to respond. If you find it difficult to come up with an answer, explain why that is.
- Make sure you answer the question and explain your reasoning.
- Differentiate yourself from other test candidates by bringing in relevant personal anecdotes and experiences.
- Stay calm!
When should you take the CASPer test?
When you take your CASPer test is crucial as your score is only valid for the current application cycle. Your answers are measured against current applicants, so you’ll have to retake the test if you delay applying. Many medical schools require your CASPer score along with your secondary applications. However, it can take up to three weeks for your score to process. It would be best if you aimed to take your CASPer test between the spring and July of your application year.