What is the CASPer test?
CASPer, or “Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristic,” is a test required by certain medical schools used to assess your personal and professional reasoning skills. The test is designed to measure certain core competencies specified by the AAMC including teamwork, cultural competency, ethical responsibility, communication, and resilience. Evaluation formats like CASPer have grown in importance for medical school admissions as schools seek to assess applicants beyond academic metrics and extracurricular achievements—demonstrating strong interpersonal skills and pre-professional competencies has become a new benchmark for pre-meds. This blog is focused to give you CASPer test tips!
In this blog post, we present:
The CASPer test is currently offered for the following allopathic medical schools in the U.S.:
- Albany Medical College
- Augusta University
- Central Michigan University
- Drexel University
- East Tennessee State University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Hofstra University
- Howard University
- Medical College of Wisconsin
- Mercer University
- Michigan State University
- New York Medical College
- Northeast Ohio Medical University
- NYU School of Medicine
- Rosalind Franklin University
- Rutgers University
- State University of New York
- Stony Brook University
- Temple University
- Texas A&M University
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
- Tulane University
- University of Colorado—Denver
- University of Illinois
- University of Miami
- University of Michigan
- University of Mississippi
- University of Nevada—Reno
- University of North Carolina
- University of North Dakota
- University of Rochester
- University of Texas Health Science Center
- University of Texas Medical Branch
- University of Vermont
- University of Washington
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- West Virginia University
The CASPer test consists of 12 sections, 8 video-based and 4 word-based prompts, each followed by three questions. You have 5 minutes to respond to the three question, and the test runs for a total length of approximately 90 minutes. There is an optional 15-minute break in the middle of the test. Your responses are typed onto the computer.
High-yield CASPER test tip: test questions are not always directed related to medicine, but more generally assess your inter- and intra-personal reasoning. Sample questions can be found on the CASPer official blog. Generally, questions deal with ethical dilemmas, interpersonal conflicts, and/or open-ended scenarios in which the correct answer is ambiguous.
If a medical school you are applying to requires CASPer, then you should register for a CASPer test date at least three days before when you plan to take it. Keep in mind that certain schools will not review your application until all required materials (primary, secondary, MCAT, LORs) are received, which could include your CASPer test score. So do not delay your application timeline with a late CASPer score! According to the official CASper FAQ, your score is made available to programs 3 weeks after taking your test.
Because CASPer is administered online on your personal device, it is important to check your system requirements to ensure no technical difficulties occur during testing. We also recommend students take the official sample test provided by CASPer sometime before taking their real test. Finally, to maximum your chance of doing well on the exam, you should take additional practice tests online and strategize with our 5 CASPer test tips listed below!
#1. Prepare a general framework to guide your answers
Having a framework prepared helps provide a starting point to structure your answers to open-ended questions characteristic of the CASPer exam. While your response should not be formulaic or rehearsed, introducing structure ensures your point is made in an organized and logical manner. A concrete framework can even help you flesh out your answer!
Sample Prompt: You are studying with members of a study group when an argument breaks out between your fellow group members. Karl and Dan are confronting Kayla about her lack of contributions to the group. They feel that she is free loading off the group’s efforts while not doing her fair share of work. Kayla retorts that she has been under a lot of stress and they are being fair to her. It seems like she is about to leave the meeting in frustration. You have not participated in the interaction thus far, and now the group is looking for your advice. What do you do?
High-Yield CASPer Test Tip: One popular framework is PPRDJ, which stands for: problem, perspectives, responsibility, decision, justification. Consider applying this framework to the previous sample prompt:
- Problem: the group is not going to succeed with animosity toward one another, or if members of the group are not equally contributing.
- Perspectives: while Karl and Dan are justified in their frustration, they may be missing important information about why Kayla is not contributing.
- Responsibility: as a member of the group, I have a responsibility to help ensure good relations between group members. But at the same time, I want to make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of work.
- Decision: I would address the group by expressing empathy toward everyone’s frustrations but ask them to compromise for now so that the rest of the study session can still be productive. Afterwards, I would speak with Kayla in private and offer to speak about any stress she is under. I would encourage her to communicate her concerns to other members of the group so that they understand where she is coming from.
- Justification: In doing so, members of the group can ensure everyone is contributing equally without discounting extenuating circumstances for individual group members.
#2. Seek nuance and multiple perspectives
One particularly important CASPer test tip is to seek nuance and multiple perspectives when evaluating situations. As the above example highlights, there are often multiple conflicting interests and no clear answers to many prompts. If there was, there would be no point testing you on it! The CASPer exam is intentionally designed to force you to confront ambiguity and recognize multiple points of view.
When doing so, be sure to explicitly highlight how you are recognizing multiple perspectives in your answer. Your grader cannot give you credit unless you demonstrate your appreciation of a situation’s complexity. This can be as simple as weighing pros and cons of different options before making your decision or including language that suggests you will gather more information before acting.
#3. Answer the question and explain your reasoning
One common mistake CASPer test-takers make is failing to actually answer the question. Don’t get so caught up in a framework and/or exploring multiple perspectives that you forget to actually answer the question! It is important that your answer ultimately addresses what you will do and how you will do so.
Finally, you should explain your reasoning! Other than the above framework, one helpful way to do so is to cite medical ethics. Make sure you are familiar with the concept of autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence, and are comfortable applying them to different ethical situations. Your application should not be abstract or philosophical, but rather connected to the situation at hand.
#4. Tie-in personal anecdotes and experiences
One CASPer test tip to differentiate yourself by providing a unique answer is to bring in personal anecdotes and experiences. Have you faced a similar dilemma in an extracurricular or personal experience? How did you handle that situation? What would you do differently? The most compelling answers draw upon personal experience to substantiate your reasoning with a degree of humanity and substance.
List out all of your extracurricular activities and brainstorm relate anecdotes to bring up during your CASPer. What was the situation and what did you learn? This exercise can also help you strengthen your interview answers later on in the application cycle!
#5. Stay calm
Above all, it is important that you remain calm. With only 5 minutes to answer questions, CASPer moves at a pace that can fluster many test-takers. Keep a level head and do your best to get your thoughts down on the computer. Don’t spend all your time on one question! If you do badly on one section, shake it off and move on. Remember: CASPer responses are not graded on grammar or correct spelling! The substance and reasoning behind your answers is more important than your prose (though effective prose can certain elevate the overall strength of your response).
The CASPer test is unique in that you never get to see how you did, so the grading process is largely unknown. However, sources online suggest that your responses are scored by regional graders, each of whom is assigned to a single question to avoid bias. Your final score is converted to a percentile used to compare between applicants.
It is difficult to say how important your CASPer score is for medical school admissions, but you should do your best and maximize your chances as with most things related to admissions. Set yourself up for success by following our high-yield tips and preparing for the CASPer test!
If you’re applying this year or next year, be sure to check out our other blogs with important information: