Many applicants tend to view the CASPer as a nuisance. After starving for a good GPA and having to deal with the MCAT, no one is too excited about facing yet another hurdle to get into med school.
That’s perfectly understandable, but it is also an entirely wrong attitude to possess.
The CASPer isn’t an extra hurdle standing between you and your desired career. Rather, this is a very eye-opening test that you can use to learn and grow both personally and professionally.
The CASPer tests your character, mindset, problem-solving capabilities, and critical thinking skills and all these are valuable soft skills in life.
So in learning how to prepare for CASPer test, you are at the same time training your mind to develop strategies to tackle various challenging situations you may encounter in life and in your profession. It’s not just a waste of time.
Table of Contents
- CASPer is not an IQ test. Rather, it measures your situational judgment and critical thinking capacity.
- Contrary to popular belief, it really is important and worthwhile to prepare for CASPer.
- Preparing for the CASPer is more about developing your answering approach and strategies and getting accustomed to the test’s limited timing.
- In responding to CASPer scenarios, the fine points of your approach and thought process will make all the difference in your score.
- In a nutshell, a strong CASPer response comprises the following 4 elements: not taking a scenario promptly at face value; seeking out more information for clarity; acknowledging the multiple perspectives at play; and providing robust resolutions.
- Developing an efficient logic and structure for approaching challenging situations will not only help with CASPer but will also come in handy in your everyday life as a medical professional.
How To Prepare For CASPer Test
Preparing for the CASPer exam has several advantages. For starters, good preparation will help you gain an understanding of the exam in terms of the test format and the types of questions you shall encounter.
This will help build your test-taking confidence, so you can communicate your thoughts more clearly and effectively in your answer responses.
That being said, there are a variety of ways to prepare for the CASPer test. These include practicing using realistic simulations, improving your typing speed, keeping abreast with healthcare-related issues, etc.
Let’s dive some more into this so you can know how best to prepare for this situational judgment test.
Do I Need To Study For The CASPer Exam?
You cannot really study for the CASPer exam because this test is not based on academic prowess. To pass the CASPer, you are not required to have knowledge of certain medical subjects.
Instead, the CASPer is a situational judgment test that analyzes how you think, giving insight into how you would react in certain real-life situations.
In full, CASPer stands for Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. So it really is about your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, ethics, empathy, professionalism, and bedside manner.
This is not an IQ test, and neither does it assess your medical knowledge, which is why you cannot study for the CASPer per se, as no textbook learning is involved. You can, however, prepare for it in a variety of ways.
Here is why it’s important to prepare and study for the CASPer:
a) You can familiarize yourself with the technical requirements.
b) Train yourself to type faster.
c) Get acquainted with the exam format and know what types of questions to expect.
d) Develop your approach to answering questions in different CASPer scenarios.
e) Understand fundamental strategies for tackling the CASPer test.
Ultimately, preparing efficiently for this test will prove advantageous, as opposed to walking into the exam without any prior CASPer preparation.
What To Expect On The CASPer Exam
To begin with, the CASPer is a web-based test that you take from the comfort of your home instead of having to go to a test center. As long as you have a secure internet connection and a computer that meets the technical requirements, you’re all set to take the test.
CASPer aims to measure your critical thinking capacity and situational judgment savviness.
By assessing your responses to various tough situations, this test ideally serves to evaluate your personal and professional traits, as well as your social intelligence.
The applicant’s evaluation is generally based on the following constructs:
- Critical thought process
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
The exam is meant to give a glimpse into who you are as an individual and, consequently, who you potentially could become as a future healthcare professional. This assessment is done through a series of situational questions.
The CASPer test comprises 2 sections: a video response section and a typed response section. This is further split into 5 word-based scenarios and 9 video-based scenarios, giving you 14 scenarios in total for the entire exam.
Each scenario is followed by questions asking about your thoughts on the case, your thoughts on a related policy, or a similar experience you may have encountered before.
a) Video Response Section
Here, you are presented with two word-based scenarios and four video-based scenarios, which set the stage for different situations, and they appear in randomized order.
Each video response scenario is then followed by 3 open-ended questions, presented one at a time, meaning you have 18 questions under this section.
You are only given 1 minute to record each response.
b) Typed Response Section
Here, you are presented with three word-based scenarios and six video-based scenarios which will appear in a randomized order as well.
For each typed response scenario, you are given 3 open-ended questions, presented altogether at the same time, meaning you have 27 questions under this section.
You have 5 minutes to respond to all 3 questions in each scenario.
How Long Is The CASPer Test?
The CASPer test is between 100 to 120 minutes long, so it’s quite brief, unlike other medical school admissions tests such as the MCAT.
This is the length of the entire exam, including the mandatory system requirement checks and the optional breaks. Here’s the breakdown:
CASPer Exam Stages
System Requirements Check
Typed Response Section Pt.1 (5 Scenarios)
Typed Response Section Pt.2 (4 scenarios)
Video Response Section (6 Scenarios)
* Acuity Insights does provide the specific duration for the Undisclosed time lengths.
You have about 90 minutes of questions, and when each scenario finishes, you are given 30 seconds of reflection time before being presented with the questions.
The scenarios progress automatically, from one to the next, and the time for answering questions depends on the exam section.
For the typed response section, you have 5 minutes to type your responses to all the 3 open-ended questions. Once the 5 minutes are up, you will automatically advance to the next prompt.
For the video response section, you are also given 30 seconds of reflection time after each scenario and 10 seconds to read the question. Then you have 1 minute to record your response to each question.
Your recording will be uploaded once you submit your response or uploaded automatically once the 1-minute timer runs out.
Once the timer runs out, your responses are saved automatically even if you do not press the ‘submit’ button. Then you’ll be automatically moved to the next page.
This means that the CASPer requires test takers to think quickly, typing out or communicating a solid, comprehensive thought in a limited amount of time.
How Long Should You Prepare For The CASPer Test?
It may take anywhere between 2-6 weeks for you to prepare for the CASPer exam, depending on the individual and how much time it would take for you to feel comfortable taking the test.
Of course, you are not going to be studying 24 hours a day for the entire duration as you are not cramming for an exam.
Rather, to fully understand how long it would take to prepare for the CASPer, you first need to comprehend what studying for the CASPer actually entails.
There’s a lot you would need to do during your CASPer prep time, including:
1. Researching CASPer: the format and learning about types of questions.
2. Learning about how to structure your answers.
3. Reading up on sample CASPer answers.
4. Reading up on tenets of medical ethics.
5. Develop a good knowledge of the healthcare system and current issues.
6. Practicing with CASPer practice questions and sample scenarios.
7. Practice getting comfortable with the timing of the test.
8. Practice typing under time pressure.
9. Practice how to interpret a prompt in the context of ethics.
10. Learn how to apply your strategies for different question types.
11. Learn how to quickly understand and state the issues presented and defend your opinion on the outcome.
As you may see, there’s a lot of ground to cover in preparing for the CASPer test, hence why it may take a varied amount of time for different test takers to fully prepare for situational judgment tests.
Ultimately though, the point is not to set a test date unless you feel truly confident and ready for it. Otherwise, you will just get flustered and end up performing dismally.
The good thing is that comprehensive CASPer test preparation will give you the confidence to respond clearly and effectively during both sections of the test.
Is It Hard To Pass CASPer?
Compared to knowledge-based exams such as the MCAT, CASPer is a relatively simple test. So, no, it is not hard to pass CASPer.
Rather, what makes the CASPer test particularly challenging is its fast-paced nature meaning the test taker is under immense pressure to not only think fast but also respond aptly in a clear, effective manner before the timer runs out.
This test is all about your behavioral tendencies and how good you are at thinking on your feet and responding accordingly.
A common challenge for previous CASPer examinees was that they couldn’t complete their responses in time, hence they felt rushed, barely able to communicate a complete thought before being transitioned into the next CASPer scenario.
Others felt flustered by the second section of the test, finding it hard to pull themselves together to communicate a complete thought in their video responses.
On the CASPer, the examinees that performed poorly didn’t do so out of having the wrong answers per se. Rather, their poor performance arose from having inadequate responses and being unable to effectively defend their opinions.
Each CASPer question is designed to test a specific construct, and you only get points if your answer reflects that construct. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.
There are 10 key constructs tested on CASPer:
The key to maximizing your score is to first determine which constructs are at play in any given scenario and then give a suitable response that demonstrates an understanding of these constructs.
The more familiar and experienced you are with the CASPer test format, the quicker you will recognize these constructs in a scenario and, consequently, the better you will perform.
This means that contrary to popular belief, it really is important to prepare adequately for the CASPer test.
Not all medical schools require CASPer as part of their admissions requirements. For those that do, however, your performance on this test can certainly play a critical role in your final admissions decision.
Tips On How To Study For The CASPer Test
Tip 1: Read Up On Healthcare-Related Issues
You will need to keep up to date with relevant news in order to understand current issues affecting the profession.
Read journals, newspaper articles, headlines, and debates related to ethical issues, cultural sensitivity, group dynamics, and professionalism.
Regularly review literature that highlights society’s expectations from its healthcare workers, and make a habit of paying particular attention to hot topics in your field, such as patient cases and court rulings.
Tip 2: Brush Up On Medical Ethics
Aim to understand how medical professionals address conflict so you can best mold your approach when faced with an ethical dilemma scenario.
Get to learn the vocabulary and practice how to discuss concepts such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.
Every single day, healthcare professionals make difficult decisions concerning the health of their patients, themselves, and society as a whole.
In all this, a working knowledge of medical ethics will help you better understand different ethical considerations at play in challenging situations and CASPer scenarios.
Tip 3: Train Yourself To Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
Plenty of CASPer scenarios feature hypothetical instances where the ethics of the situation aren’t exactly clear.
In such cases, you need to demonstrate an ability to understand both sides of a situation. Think ahead, and consider all possible consequences of your actions.
By doing so, you may also need to reframe the problem by adding important context that wasn’t supplied by the scenario. This demonstrates your unique ability to view a challenge from multiple perspectives before arriving at the best possible response.
This additionally demonstrates good critical thinking skills.
Nothing is black and white in real life, and in CASPer scenarios, you may often have to look at things from the perspective of all parties involved, both directly and indirectly, before making sound judgment.
For instance, let’s say a scenario requires you to reprimand a university professor for professional misconduct. The parties that are directly involved here are you and the professor, while those involved indirectly are the academic fraternity, the university, the professor’s students, and the community at large.
As such, to make a sound judgment on the best course of action, you should weigh possible consequences from all angles and demonstrate this in your response.
Tip 4: Review CASPer Practice Test Questions And Answers
To see how best to approach CASPer scenarios and frame your answers, you will have to review sample CASPer test questions.
This will, for one, allow you to understand the format and fundamentals of the CASPer test, understanding both sections of the exam, and knowing what content you should expect from the test makers.
Secondly, it will help you internalize the workings of strong, effective responses. This will help you see structures, tendencies, and qualities that make up strong answers, so you can integrate these approaches into your own responses.
The point of reviewing sample questions and responses isn’t so that you can memorize the content. Rather, the idea here is to help you develop a certain set of tools for answering CASPer questions in a way that reflects your own unique observations and experiences.
The more original your answer approaches are, the higher your chances of scoring highly on the CASPer.
Tip 5: Practice Taking Simulated CASPer Tests
There is a free practice CASPer test offered on the Acuity Insights website, and you can access this free practice as long as you have an Acuity Insights account.
Other than that, there are also plenty of CASPer practice tests you can find online, offered by various test prep companies.
These CASPer sample questions will, first off, help you become familiar with the question format. Just as well taking these practice tests under timed conditions will help you work on your timing and pacing, so you can start getting comfortable with the fast-paced nature of this test.
You need to seriously consider the situation you are presented with, then try to answer each CASPer practice question just as you would in a real CASPer test setting.
Getting a sense of the time limit on CASPer will help you practice how to formulate responses quicker and type them out within the allotted time frame. You will also learn how to get comfortable being in front of the camera for the video response section.
Feel free to take the same practice tests over and over again until you are comfortable with the test and confident in your responses.
Tip 6: Perfect The PPRDJ Approach
PPRDJ stands for Problem, Perspective, Responsibility, Decision, and Justification, and this approach can essentially be used on any type of CASPer question.
Problem: Identify the primary problem.
Perspective: Gather facts appropriately, in a private manner, while taking into consideration the viewpoint of all parties involved.
Responsibility: Realize your relation to the other party and consider their well-being while finding suitable solutions to the challenge at hand.
Decision: Highlight your course of action, and if there is missing information you may need to find to enrich your decision-making, highlight this as well.
Justification: Your suggestion should address the challenge in a respectful and efficient manner, serving the greater good.
Try applying the PPRDJ approach whenever you face any CASPer question, and with time, you will find that the strategy comes naturally to you, allowing you to work through CASPer scenarios fast and effectively, even on the actual test.
Tip 7: Get Feedback
Successfully getting through the video response section of the CASPer test will require you to practice getting your answer across clearly and effectively within the one-minute time limit for each response.
One way to do this would be to take a timed CASPer test while recording your response to each question. Once the test is up, playback the recording and watch your responses.
How is your articulation? How’s your posture? How coherent are you, and how solidly do your voiced thoughts come across in the video recording? Do you look confident? Are you looking into the camera while communicating your response?
After you’ve assessed the video yourself, seek feedback from family members, trusted friends, or tutors and continue practising and recording your responses until you are happy with the results.
Better yet, you can get expert feedback from certified CASPer experts, and some CASPer test prep programs, such as CasperBooster, will even provide this feedback free of charge.
What Is The Best Way To Answer CASPer Questions?
Before learning how to best answer CASPer questions, you first need to understand how the CASPer test is evaluated.
CASPer evaluators do not work with a set answer key, which means that there really isn’t an exact right answer on this test. Rather, for each question, there is an infinite number of possible responses that reflect different ways of going about tackling various difficult situations.
What counts as a wrong answer on this test is a response that displays poor personal or professional character.
Here are some considerations you can use to gauge the suitability of your CASPer responses:
- Would you share this answer in a face-to-face interview?
- Can you imagine a professional saying these words?
- Is your answer poorly composed, demonstrating a lack of understanding and reasoning?
Each CASPer response you provide is scored on a numerical scale of 1-9, reflecting how well your response meets, does not meet, or exceeds the assessor’s expectations. 1 reflects a poor response, while 9 represents an excellent response.
Having answers which demonstrate sound decision-making, excellent communication skills, and a unique thought process will help you make an impression on the assessor, therefore resulting in you getting higher CASPer scores.
All this is achievable with thorough preparation and practice, so you are all geared up come test day.
Now let’s see some CASPer test tips and strategies that you can use to approach and navigate the different types of CASPer questions.
a) Ethical Questions
In ethical scenarios, you will be faced with a choice that directly impacts others and you have to deal with competing ethical priorities or navigating ethically murky territory.
Step 1: Identify the problem objectively while remaining completely non-judgemental.
The idea here is to fully recognize the situation presented to you and collect all relevant facts before making a decision. Once you’ve identified the problem, you then have to identify all the parties involved and impacted both directly and indirectly.
Step 2: Gather relevant information and get clarification.
Consider the relevant facts, laws, and principles at play in this particular situation.
Step 3: Analyze and determine possible courses of action.
You can offer solutions using the “if,then” strategy to formulate the most ethical rationale. For instance, “If X happens, then that could lead to Y.”
Step 4: Summarize the solution.
Test Tip: It isn’t always easy picking a side in ethical scenarios. However, you should always pick the side that will result in the best moral outcome, even if it doesn’t favor you or you personally do not like that particular decision.
b) Situational-Based Questions
Situational scenarios attempt to show how you react in specific professional or personal circumstances and how good you are at overcoming obstacles.
These types of questions give you a chance to highlight how you use your professional abilities and personal strengths to overcome challenges and dilemmas and meet the desired goals. You may often have to balance competing priorities.
Step 1: Isolate the most pressing issue.
Who is at the greatest risk of harm and needs the most urgent attention? If you were to do absolutely nothing about the situation, who would be most significantly harmed by your inaction?
Step 2: Gather information while remaining non-judgemental.
Do you have all the details and facts? Could there be missing information? Might some of the information presented to you be misleading or altogether incorrect?
Think through how you may go about gathering more information on the matter at hand, and describe this process in your answer.
Step 3: Determine the ripple effect of your actions.
If you lean toward a certain direction of action, who will be impacted directly or indirectly? You need to demonstrate an ability to think through the repercussions of your actions by assessing how your decisions affect others.
Step 4: Offer sound solutions using “if, then” statements.
The best solution is that which does the least harm while being the most beneficial.
c) Empathy Questions
These questions require you to respect autonomy rather than imposing what you think is best for the other person.
Step 1: Show empathy for the situation.
Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to fully comprehend where they may be coming from. Communicate the difficult impact of the situation on the other’s well-being without frustration, annoyance, or judgment.
Step 2: Relay a relatable personal example.
You will need to reinforce your empathy using a relevant personal experience that illustrates an understanding of the scenario. Have you witnessed a similar difficulty with your friends or family? How did the decision impact their lives?
Step 3: Teachable moment.
From the personal experience, what did you learn, or what insight did that situation give you?
Step 4: Applicable lessons.
Show how the lesson learnt helped you navigate similarly difficult future scenarios.
Test Tip: If someone’s well-being is at stake, the best approach is to be sensitive and compassionate towards their plight rather than indifferent, disinterested, and apathetic.
Listen actively, empathize with their concerns, and demonstrate an interest in their wellbeing. In trying to resolve the dilemma at hand, offer your support and offer to refer them to relevant persons where they can be helped more effectively.
d) Personal Questions
Personal-type questions may require you to describe a situation where you had to overcome an obstacle. The purpose of this is for the assessor to understand what you have learned from your past experiences, thereby gaining insight into your current values.
Step 1: Summarize what you are going to address.
Provide a short context about the situation you will be addressing.
Step 2: Show how you dealt with the situation.
Demonstrate your intervention in terms of actions or skills you implemented to deal with the problem. Summarize the steps you took to handle the situation.
Step 3: Lessons learnt.
Discuss the results of your interventions and what you learned from the experience. Even if you made some mistakes along the way, that’s absolutely fine. You just need to show that you continue learning from your mistakes and past experiences.
Step 4: Future application.
Test Tip: Throughout your explanation, try highlighting soft skills and qualities that you applied to your challenge and which are essential for healthcare providers. These may range from perspective gathering, good listening skills, team-based problem solving, etc.
e) Policy-Based Questions
Policy-based questions will often parallel conflicts of interest whereby one’s personal interests do not align with the policy of the other party, and basically, you are more detached from the situation.
Step 1: Be clear about the policy in question.
Step 2: Determine the perspectives of all stakeholders.
Analyze the situation objectively, and attempt to see the viewpoint of all parties that are directly involved in the scenario.
Step 3: Assess the pros and cons.
Give arguments for and against the policy in question, considering the perspective of all parties involved.
Step 4: Personal opinion
Give your own evaluation of the policy, and reason for the policy, based on how you weigh the pros and cons at play.
Step 5: Offer solutions, compromises, or alternative action.
If there are any modifications to the policy that would strengthen it and serve future good, offer that as a suggestion.
Test Tip: If you are dealing with rumors or happened to walk in on a situation and therefore do not have all the details, you should always seek to gather more information.
This shows that you are keen on making an informed decision rather than jumping to conclusions based on primary observations alone. You may need to have a private non-confrontation conversation with one of the parties involved and this should be highlighted in your response.
The CASPer isn’t looking for a perfect answer. Rather, this test is meant to assess how you think and the raters are trained to understand that as well.
On this test, it isn’t uncommon to find someone who didn’t finish their responses but then ended up scoring in the 90th percentile.
That’s because it is all about how you think and whether you demonstrate compassion, good morals, critical thinking, and objective judgment in arriving at the best solution for all parties involved.
As long as you can show a well-reasoned, considerate, and reflective answer, you are guaranteed success on the CASPer.
FAQs About How To Prepare For CASPer Test
What Is A Good CASPer Score?
A good CASPer score is anything in the 4th quartile, meaning your score falls between the 75th and 99th percentile rank. This is a good score because it means you scored higher than at least 75% of all applicants.
That being said, it is worth noting that it is up to individual programs to determine how they will incorporate CASPer scores into their admissions process. The same CASPer score that is very competitive for one program may be less competitive for another.
It all depends on how much weight the particular school places on CASPer in its admissions considerations.
Do I Need To Look Nice For CASPer Test?
Yes, you do need to look nice for the CASPer test.
Although CASPer raters are trained to focus on the substance of your answer rather than on your clothing, it helps not to wear something distracting that will take the evaluators’ attention away from the point you are putting across.
You do not need to get all dressed up like in face-to-face medical school interviews. However, even if you opt for casual attire, try wearing something presentable, clean, and smart.
How Long Are CASPer Test Scores Valid For?
CASPer test scores are only valid for the current application cycle.
Meaning any future reapplications will require you to retake CASPer, even if you are reapplying to the very same program.
Is 60 Words-Per-Minute Good For CASPer?
Yes, 60 words per minute typing speed is great for CASPer.
The average person types about 40 words per minute and this typing speed is what’s recommended even for CASPer.
If you can type 60 words per minute, you’ll be able to type more in a shorter time, more comprehensively communicating your response in the short timeframe provided.