As we move towards the next application cycle for medical school, it is important to start thinking about the many components involved with completing an applicant’s application. As multiple aspects of the application process become even more competitive, many schools are looking to additionally evaluate the personal characteristics of applicants that will also make them great physicians. For this reason, CASPer is becoming a popular solution to attempt to standardly evaluate an applicant’s “soft skills” in addition to their many other achievements.
CASPer, which stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal characteristics, is a situational judgment test. What this means, is that the test is aimed at identifying various personal characteristics that an applicant has. Ideally, an applicant’s score gives an application review board a better idea about who the applicant is as a person, or to be more specific, information about how and why an applicant makes a certain decision. Characteristics that are assessed for on the CASPer test include:
CASPer is graded by human evaluators, and each prompt is graded by a different person to negate bias. An applicant’s score is meant to reflect a standardized measurement of various components of decision making. The applicant doesn’t receive their score, and instead only the institution(s) that they have applied at are able to view it.
Please note that the admissions committees do not have access to your typed responses or video recorded responses. The programs are only given access to your score.
The CASPer test format has recently undergone some changes. For the ‘22-’23 cycle, it consists of two separate sections, one of which requires typed responses and one that requires video responses. There are 15 scenarios total.
The first section has nine scenarios (three word, and six video), for which you have five minutes per scenario to type your answers to three questions pertaining to the scenario.
The second section consists of six scenarios (two word, and four video), for which you have one minute per question to video-record your answers for a total of three questions pertaining to one scenario.
The test progresses automatically if you don’t move onto the next question and has two optional breaks: one, five minute break halfway through the first section, and a 10 minute break before the second section. It is estimated to take approximately 100-120 minutes to complete.
One of the challenging components about CASPer preparation, is that the test is meant to measure personal characteristics, which are very dynamic and constantly evolving. Therefore, the best way to prepare is essentially a lot of self-reflection. An applicant should try to become very familiar with their personal beliefs and understand which characteristics they may have that are weaker or stronger – with the intention of being able to apply and articulate those sets of values when presented with a specific situation. It would be a good idea to take a look at the characteristics that CASPer is meant to assess for, and then consider how someone would demonstrate these characteristics when presented with a specific problem.
If you don’t plan to take CASPer this cycle, another great way to prepare is to take an ethics course, specifically one related to medicine. Learning how to approach ethical dilemmas, like those showcased in CASPer, will greatly help your ability to articulate ideas, and really take into consideration the many moving components that a scenario may present. Additionally, it will prompt personal reflection and help an applicant develop the ability to evaluate all of the components of a scenario.
Lastly, not only do you need to be able to think on your feet quickly, but you also need to be able to write out your responses quickly (at least for the first section of CASPer). Brushing up on your typing skills will help you save time while typing out your responses, maybe enough to reread what you’ve written or get out an extra, vital sentence.
At Motivate MD we have developed specific preparatory practice questions, guides, and material that can be found at Motivate MD CASPer prep.
A mutual friend comes into the room and gives your good friend a cupcake. They tell your friend “Hey, I’ve been really struggling in Calculus lately, do you think I could look over your homework answers for next week’s big assignment? If I don’t start getting good grades I’m going to fail, but I’m also working full-time and don’t have the time to finish the assignment.” Your friend says, “I don’t really feel comfortable doing that”.
Questions and Answers:
My initial response to this situation was that this mutual friend must be struggling to balance this work-load, as working full-time while also being a full-time student must be challenging. However, I think it’s also important to respect the integrity of the course, and plagiarism is not something that should be tolerated. I would like to speak with this mutual friend to get more information on their situation, and hopefully come up with a solution that doesn’t involve copying another student’s work.
A way that I could help this peer would be personally being willing to explain concepts in class that they may be struggling with, or by providing them with resources, like academic tutoring, that may be available to students. I could organize a study group that this individual could participate in that would allow for multiple people to lend a hand. If my peer still feels they would be unable to perform well with additional help, I would encourage this classmate to reach out to the professor and explain their situation. The professor may be willing to grant the classmate an extension or would be able to provide them with more resources.
An example of a time that I hesitated to give someone help was when my older sister asked me to babysit her kids the night before I had a big exam. I’ve frequently babysat for her in the past, but I was really worried about having enough time to study for my exam. Ultimately, I told her that I was unable to help her out that night, but that I also knew a few other students who babysit. With everyone’s permission, I was able to find a friend who had availability that evening and got them connected with my sister.
Unsure if your answers will be effective on the CASPer test? Click here to learn our 4 Steps to Formulating an Effective Argument along with practice questions and example responses.
While the dates for the ‘22-’23 application cycle have not yet been released, the exam has classically been offered between May and late fall. The majority of testing dates are generally in June and July.
The test dates for the ’22-’23 cycle will eventually be posted on this page.
Of note, in order to take the exam you will need a computer with a functioning microphone and webcam. Exams are done in the EST (Eastern) time zone. The fee for the exam is $12, with an additional $12 fee for distribution to each school.