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How do I prepare for the CASPer?

by Renee Marinelli, MD. Renee is a former admissions committee member at UC Irvine and a MedSchoolCoach advisor.

Since 2010, several medical schools have incorporated the use of the “Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics” or “CASPer”, into the evaluation of prospective medical school students. Similar to the mini-medical interview or MMI, the CASPer tests students not on scientific or medical concepts, but rather examines personality traits and aspects of ethical decision making. In addition to the standard pre-requisites of getting accepted into medical school- good MCAT score, solid GPA, volunteering, research- schools want to ensure that students are compassionate, possess strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to solve complex situational scenarios.

What does the CASPer exam consist of?

The CASPer exam consists of 12 sections, which either contains a short video followed by three questions or a statement followed by three questions. The examinee will be given five minutes to provide a written response to each prompt where spelling and grammar do not affect the score.

What does the CASPer exam test?

As the exam is designed to test your personal qualities and ability to respond to particular scenarios, the best preparation is practice, practice, practice! As with MMI preparation, focus on asking ‘open-ended’ questions and if given the opportunity in the scenario, try to understand more about the situation at hand. For instance, if the scenario presents an upset patient, try to understand why the patient is upset before jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. The other key to mastering these prompts is to remain calm and compassionate. Physicians must be empathic, calm, composed, and unbiased when responding to difficult circumstances or upset patients. Remember these are the qualities that you want to emphasize and demonstrate during the exam.

How can I practice for the CASPer?

To practice for the CASPer, you can utilize MMI scenarios and practice writing timed responses. Additionally, Medschoolcoach can provide sample scenarios with corresponding questions for further practice.

Above all, BE YOURSELF. This test is trying to understand who you are and what personal qualities you possess, so it is in your best interest to act as you would in ‘real life’.