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The CASPer Test: What It Is, How to Prepare


You’ve taken the MCAT. You’ve submitted your primary applications to about 20 medical schools, and you’re prepared to complete your secondary essays. But now, some of the medical schools you’ve applied to want you to submit a CASPer score. 

Don’t panic: the CASPer test isn’t as intensive an undertaking as the MCAT. It’s a situational judgement test that a small but growing number of medical schools require (about 50 MD and DO programs, according to Kaplan. In this post, we’ll delve into the depths of the CASPer test, uncovering what it entails and how you can ace it with confidence.

Understanding the CASPer Test

The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) exam assesses non-cognitive skills such as critical thinking, ethical reasoning, empathy, and communication. Developed by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, CASPer aims to gauge applicants’ suitability for medical and healthcare professions by presenting them with hypothetical scenarios and asking how they would respond.

Format of the CASPer Exam

CASPer is administered online and comprises a series of video-based scenarios followed by open-ended questions. You’ll have a limited amount of time (typically five minutes) to formulate your responses before moving on to the next scenario. The scenarios are diverse, covering a wide range of topics relevant to healthcare, ethics, and interpersonal relationships. 

Unlike the MCAT, which is a whole-day ordeal, the CASPer test generally takes 90–120 minutes to complete. The CASPer is also much less expensive than the MCAT: as of March 2024, you can register for and submit CASPer scores to up to seven schools for about $85, though this may vary by school.

Preparing for Success

Now that you have the basic gist of what CASPer is all about, let’s explore how you can prepare effectively.

Practice: The main tactic for success is to familiarize yourself with the format and pacing of the test by completing practice scenarios. Several online resources offer sample questions and full-length practice tests, allowing you to hone your skills under timed conditions.

Work on Your Writing Skills: Since CASPer responses are written, it’s crucial to express your thoughts clearly and concisely. Practice articulating your ideas effectively, paying attention to grammar, structure, and coherence.

Cultivate Empathy and Ethical Reasoning: Empathy is key to high-quality healthcare. Many CASPer scenarios revolve around ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflicts. Reflect on your own values and ethical principles and consider how you would navigate challenging situations with integrity and empathy. 

Seek Feedback: Share your practice responses with peers, mentors, or advisors and solicit constructive feedback. This external perspective can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your approach to tackling CASPer scenarios.

Remember, CASPer is not about memorizing facts or regurgitating academic information – it’s about demonstrating your capacity for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and effective communication, all essential attributes for aspiring healthcare professionals.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward on Test Day

If you’ve taken (or are preparing to take) the MCAT, you’ll likely be familiar with a range of strategies you can use to combat test anxiety and ensure you’re 

Stay Calm and Focused

Time constraints and unfamiliar scenarios can put pressure on you, even if you’ve completed timed practice sessions. Take deep breaths, stay composed, and focus on addressing each question to the best of your ability.

Read Carefully

Take the time to thoroughly read and understand each scenario before formulating your response. Pay attention to key details, perspectives, and nuances that may inform your answer.

Be Authentic

Avoid trying to second-guess what the evaluators want to hear. Instead, respond authentically, drawing from your own experiences, values, and insights. Authenticity and sincerity resonate more strongly than rehearsed responses.

Prioritize Ethical Principles

When faced with ethical dilemmas, prioritize principles such as beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice. Clearly articulate your reasoning and justify your chosen course of action.

Approach CASPer with confidence, authenticity, and a willingness to engage with the scenarios presented. By doing so, you’ll not only enhance your chances of securing admission to medical school but also cultivate valuable skills that will serve you well throughout your career in healthcare.

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