As virtual assessments and interviews become the new norm, it’s important to know how to ace the latest evaluations. The most commonly required virtual assessment is Acuity Insights (previously known the Altus Suite) – consisting of Casper, Snapshot, and Duet. In addition, some schools are now requiring other virtual assessments including the Kira Talent interview and AAMC PREview.
These assessments test soft skills, like the solidity of your values, your interpersonal competencies, and your situational judgment. As such, it can be hard to know how to prepare for them. This guide seeks to dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding virtual evaluations, putting you on a fast track to admissions success. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about Acuity Insights, as well as about Kira and AAMC PREview, so you can confidently showcase your interpersonal skills and secure your place in medical school.
Table of Contents
Acuity Insights – Everything You Need to Know
The Casper Exam – How to Ace This Situational Judgemenet Test
Sample Casper Scenarios & Responses
Snapshot – Let Your Personality and Motivation Shine
Duet – Do You Have the Same Values as Your Top Schools?
AAMC Preview – Do You Think Like a Medical Student?
Kira Talent Interview – Live or Asynchronous Q&A
Acuity Insights consists of three separate exams:
The following is the current list of US allopathic medical schools that require an Acuity Insights assessment. Note that some of these schools require all three Acuity Insights assessments (Casper, Duet, and Snapshot), while others only require Casper.
|CO||University of Colorado School of Medicine|
|CT||Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University|
|FL||Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University|
|FL||University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine|
|GA||Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University|
|IL||Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center|
|IL||Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center|
|IL||University of Illinois College of Medicine|
|IN||Indiana University School of Medicine|
|MA||Boston University School of Medicine|
|MI||Michigan State University College of Human Medicine|
|NC||Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center|
|NJ||Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School|
|NY||Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell|
|NY||New York Medical College|
|NY||State University of New York Upstate Medical University|
|NY||Stony Brook University School of Medicine|
|OH||Northeast Ohio Medical University|
|PA||Drexel University College of Medicine|
|PA||Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University|
|PA||Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine|
|TN||East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine|
|TN||Meharry Medical College|
|TX||Baylor College of Medicine|
|TX||McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston|
|TX||Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine|
|TX||Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine|
|TX||Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine|
|TX||The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine|
|TX||The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine|
|TX||University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine|
|TX||University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Southwestern Medical School|
|VA||Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine|
|VT||University of Vermont College of Medicine|
|WA||University of Washington School of Medicine|
|WI||Medical College of Wisconsin|
|WV||Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine|
Each school has a particular deadline of when Acuity Insights needs to be taken, typically in the Fall. However, you should plan on completing Acuity Insights around the time of submission of their primary application in order to have it done well ahead of time and to ensure your full application is not delayed.
The Duet and Snapshot exams are available once you register for Acuity Insights, and should definitely be completed within 14 days of completion of the Casper exam. This will ensure that all of your assessments will be available together for review by admissions committees.
Each school has different requirements regarding which aspects of the Acuity Insights an applicant must complete. However, the components can only be taken one time per application cycle, so it is recommended that you take all three components. That way, you will have all three components completed and won’t be missing a test if a school you apply to does require it.
For Casper, raters working at Acuity will evaluate each question.
For Snapshot, specially trained raters at the programs where you are applying will rate the exam. For Duet, schools will receive an automatic report based on your alignment with the school’s rankings.
It costs $12 to register for Acuity Insights and then an additional $12 for each school results are sent to. Applicants can always send results to more schools at any time during the application cycle for an additional $12 apiece, so you do not need to know exactly which schools you are applying to prior to taking the tests.
The exam can only be taken once per application cycle. That means that a student’s first attempt at Acuity Insights will also be their last during a given application cycle. Medical schools know this, so unlike the MCAT where they may be expecting you to retake the test if your score isn’t as high as you want, with Acuity Insights, you only get one chance. That means preparation is key. How schools use the exam results is still not entirely clear – each admissions committee probably uses the evaluation in slightly different ways. Regardless, when it comes to Acuity, the best policy is to focus on preparing well the first time!
If you’re wondering how to prepare for Casper, check out the all-in-one Casper prep tool from MedSchoolCoach. Included is:
Acuity Insights is only valid for one application cycle. This means that if you took the exam during a previous application cycle, you will need to retake it for the current cycle. This might seem like a hassle, especially if you scored well last time around. However, Acuity only holds scores for one year. Therefore, for each new application cycle, you will need to retake the exam regardless of your previous score.
Acuity is not something that you have to prepare for months in advance like the MCAT. You should practice and familiarize yourself with the component but you don’t have to study or master specific topics. However, preparation is still possible. We’ve broken down each of the subsections of the exam to give you a bit more clarity on how to prepare and what you can do to succeed in each one!
Casper (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an online, web-based computer test that takes about 100-120 minutes to complete. It was first utilized in Canada but now has been incorporated by many United States allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Casper helps schools screen applicants as part of the admissions process.
Casper has two sections. The first is a video response section. This consists of two word-based scenarios and four video-based scenarios. After each of these scenarios, test-takers will record a video response to two open-ended questions, presented one at a time. For each of these video responses, you will have 10 seconds to read the question and then one minute to record your response.
The second section of Casper is the typed response section. This consists of three word-based and five video-based scenarios. After each of these scenarios, test-takers will be presented with three open-ended questions. You will have five minutes total to type your response to all three questions before moving on to the next scenario.
Casper assesses your communication skills, problem solving ability, empathy, ethical decision making, along with other similar qualities. Most of the hypothetical scenarios represent situations you could encounter in day-to-day life, and the question assesses how you would respond to those situations. Some Casper questions are designed to gauge your personality traits and may assess your motivation, self-awareness, resilience, or response to challenges.
Acuity does not share the Casper score with applicants but does share quartiles, which helps applicants understand how they did compared to other applicants. Each question on the Casper assessment is scored compared to how other applicants did, so scoring in a low quartile doesn’t mean an applicant failed, it just means others typically did better on that assessment. Quartiles represent your scoring on the typed answers only, not the video responses. Each medical school will view quartiles differently and in conjunction with your entire application. So just because you scored in a lower quartile, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get accepted to medical school. Your application consists of many parts, and Casper likely does not carry as much weight as factors like GPA and MCAT score.
Acuity Insights claims that Casper is not a test you can study for. In fact, their website says that the Casper test is “relatively immune to coaching.”
However, in our experience, students who take Casper tend to do worse if they don’t take the time to build familiarity with the test format, the expectations of the graders, and basic ethical principles. You certainly don’t want to head into the Casper exam “cold” – that is, without any prior exposure to what the test looks like. Other applicants will have spent time familiarizing themselves with the format, which means you might end up ranking below them if you don’t prepare.
To give you an upper hand, we at MedSchoolCoach have built a comprehensive, all-in-one Casper prep tool. Designed by former admissions committee members and expert physician advisors, this resource will give you the ethical know-how and expert insight to approach your Casper exam with confidence.
Included in our Casper coaching tool is:
Regardless of whether you choose to invest in Casper coaching, the following pages will provide you a brief introduction to decision making and ethics, so that you have a basis in these areas to help you during the exam. In addition, we will take you through a few sample scenarios to give you an idea of what to expect.
The Casper exam is designed to test your ability to make appropriate decisions and use sound judgment. A lot of your decision making capabilities are based on who you are as a person and your values, but there are some core principles that we will cover that you can consider when making important decisions.
As you move along your medical training, you will be immersed further into the fundamentals of ethical decision making, and how it relates to your practice as a physician and your patients. For now, let’s cover the basics and discuss how you can utilize these for Casper! Here are four principles of medical ethics:
There are four principles of medical ethics:
Definition: The principle of autonomy refers to an individual’s right to make decisions for themselves. Though there are many complexities to this principle, the key is that decisions made by individuals should be done so without coercion or undue influence.
Example: If a patient is deciding to have a particular medical treatment, it is the physician’s responsibility to educate the patient on the procedure, and its associated risks and benefits, however it is the patient’s choice to have the procedure or not. The physician may not pressure the patient, or force him/her to have the procedure.
Applying this Casper: Many Casper scenarios will not be medically related but have to do with everyday situations that people may face. During the exam, you can utilize the principle of autonomy by never forcing or demanding an individual to make a decision. Instead, you can educate, encourage, and help them to a particular decision.
Definition: Beneficence is the ultimate principle of practicing as a physician. This is always trying to do good for patients. This principle implies that a physician will always work in the best interest of the patient.
Example: A patient needs an operation. There are two ways that a physician can perform the operation and the physician must choose which procedure is best. One way that the physician can determine the course of action is to pick the procedure that is intended to provide the most benefit, while minimizing harm to the patient.
Applying this to Casper: Similar to working in the patient’s best interest, try to always answer the question in the best interest of the individual that is the subject of the scenario. If there is a way that you can help or assist the individual, then that is always the best course of action.
Definition: ‘First, do no harm.’ Most pre-meds have heard this excerpt from the Hippocratic oath and this is really what the principle of nonmaleficence embodies. Physicians should never harm their patients. This principle goes hand in hand with beneficence as physicians should always work in the best interest of their patients while not causing harm.
Example: A patient comes to the doctor’s office for symptoms of the common cold and wants antibiotics. The physician does not believe antibiotics will help the patient. Although the patient wants the medicine, the physician does not provide them because taking the medication could actually cause harm by unnecessary side effects.
Applying this to Casper: Use non-maleficence along with beneficence. As you are trying to help the individual in the scenario make the best decision, try to help them with a decision that will also not hurt them.
Definition: Justice is the fourth principle of medical ethics but is likely the one that is most obscure for the Casper exam. Justice, in a medical setting, refers to the equal treatment of every individual.
Example: An emergency room physician is seeing patients and a homeless patient without medical insurance comes in for care. Using the principle of justice, the physician must see the patient and treat him regardless of his socioeconomic status and lack of insurance.
Applying this to Casper: Think of treating every individual fairly. For instance, if the scenario involves resolving conflict between multiple people, treat them equally and do not give preference to one individual.
Now that you’re aware of some of the basic principles of ethical decision-making, both in medicine and otherwise, let’s examine how you might apply those principles as you work your way through the Casper exam.
In the following sections, we’ll provide some sample ethical dilemmas of the type you might see on Casper. Then we’ll outline the best way to analyze and respond to each scenario in terms of the ethical principles we discussed. We’ll also show you some sample responses for each scenario, so you have a better idea of the sort of writing you can expect to do in your own Casper exam.
Let’s think through the issues here and use our decision-making process to help formulate our response:
First, take a second to review the scenario.
Understand the issue at hand. The issue here is honesty. You have identified a situation where your co-worker is potentially caught lying as she called into work sick, but posted a picture of herself at the beach.
Get more information. Though it seems she is being dishonest, perhaps this was an older photo that she just posted? Or perhaps she asked your boss if she could use a sick day. There could be other explanations here than her just lying about being sick.
Determine the course of action. Think about how you would respond to a situation like this and incorporate our ethics lesson. Autonomy: Remember your co-worker is able to make decisions for herself. Beneficence: Who does her actions benefit? Likely they only benefit her and considering non-maleficence, her actions can potentially harm others as they may have to work more to account for her being away. Justice: Imagine if everybody lied and used their sick days for a beach day instead, then the entire company would have an undue burden/workload.
Write it out. Let’s look at how this may be written out in a response!
Sample Answer: I would first talk to my peer and try to develop a solution. For instance, can we work together to get the project finished? Could we possibly talk to our principal investigator to see if we could have more time? I would encourage my peer to talk to the principal investigator himself first. If he does not feel comfortable doing so, I would offer my support to talk to the principal investigator with him. If he insists on reporting the false results, then I would feel obligated to talk to the principal investigator myself as this could jeopardize the integrity of our entire lab.
Snapshot is part of the Acuity Insights and should be considered an extension of the Casper situational judgment test. It is a ten minute exercise available only to applicants who have registered or completed the Casper. Remember, you should take Duet and Snapshot within 14 days of completing Casper so that admissions committees receive all of these materials at once.
Snapshot is an opportunity to “put a face” on your Casper responses. It has the feel of a traditional interview, in contrast to the situational-based questions of the Casper. Basic traditional interview preparation as well as familiarity with the virtual interviewing will help you to prepare!
Snapshot is a video response tool which helps the admissions committee evaluate your communication skills and motivation. You are given three standardized questions with 30 seconds to reflect on the question. Following each question, you are allotted a two minute video response. You can stop the video before two minutes.
The Acuity Insights requires you to complete a practice question and response before proceeding to the actual exam. You are able to complete the practice as many times as they would like. However, once you get into the actual exam, you only get one shot! This means the applicant has one chance to record their response and it will automatically be submitted once finished. They cannot review it or change it. That is why practicing makes all the difference. Be comfortable in front of the camera at all times. Prepare with mock interviews. Make sure your lighting is good!
The best way to prepare is to practice delivering two-minute responses to typical interview questions. You should record your answers so you can watch them back and look for ways to improve.
If you’re looking to build confidence for your Snapshot exam or upcoming interviews, MedSchoolCoach can help. We offer interview prep services, including a practice Snapshot exam followed by a detailed feedback session with a physician advisor or former admissions committee member. We conduct over 5,000 hours of interview prep per year, so we know what it takes for you to stand out. That’s why over 98% of students feel more confident after practicing with us.
1. Why do you want to be a physician?
2. What is one of your greatest strengths?
3. Why should you be admitted to medical school?
4. Tell us about someone you admire and why?
5. Describe a non-academic obstacle that you have overcome.
6. What excites you about a career as a physician?
Duet is the latest addition to Acuity Insights enabling institutions to “match” with applicants. Duet can help admissions committees narrow down applicants based on shared characteristics and educational goals.
This component of Acuity Insights is composed of a series of questions requiring about 15 minutes to complete. Schools submit their own questionnaire and generate a “fit profile”. Applicants complete the same assessment with their own personal preferences and characteristics described. Designated programs receive applicant “fit scores” and rankings. Duet compliments the Casper® results to identify the best applicants for that specific school.
Prior to taking the Duet, you should read through the various mission statements of the medical schools you are applying to. While reading the mission statements, take notes on important aspects of the school and areas of particular interest to you.
As the Duet only looks at specific applicant interests versus the school’s offerings, you do not need to ‘rehearse’ answers, rather you should fully consider various aspects of a medical education that are important to you.
Here are top things you should consider at a given school:
Early patient exposure
Problem- based learning
Diversity and inclusivity
Faculty relations and approachability
The AAMC has created a few online virtual interviews, first was the SJT and then VITA. In 2022, they introduced PREview which replaces its previous exams. PREview consists of several hypothetical questions designed to evaluate several core competencies related to professionalism.
The eight core competencies related to professionalism are:
The following is the current list of US allopathic medical schools that require the AAMC’s PREview assessment.
|AL||University of Alabama School of Medicine|
|CA||University of California, Davis, School of Medicine|
|CA||University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine|
|DC||George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences|
|DC||Howard University College of Medicine|
|GA||Mercer University School of Medicine|
|GA||Morehouse School of Medicine|
|HI||University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine|
|IL||Carle Illinois College of Medicine|
|IL||Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science|
|IL||Southern Illinois University School of Medicine|
|KY||University of Louisville School of Medicine|
|MA||University of Massachusetts Medical School|
|MI||Michigan State University College of Human Medicine|
|MI||Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine|
|MO||Saint Louis University School of Medicine|
|NJ||Cooper Medical School of Rowan University|
|NJ||Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School|
|OK||University of Oklahoma College of Medicine|
|PA||Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine|
|PR||Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine|
|UT||University of Utah School of Medicine|
|WI||University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health|
The exam presents written hypothetical scenarios related to healthcare, educational settings or other potential experiences of a medical student. After each scenario, several action items (possible responses to the situation) will be listed. The examinee will then have to rank each action based on its effectiveness.
There are 30 scenarios and 186 items total on the exam.. It takes about 75 minutes to complete these scenarios and items, but with check in, instructions, and options at the end, examinees can expect to spend around 90-105 minutes total on the exam.
The test is available between June to September of the application year you are applying in. The exam can only be taken once during the application year, similar to Acuity.
Only students who are applying to a school requiring it or recommending it are able to take the exam.
Yes. It costs $100 and that includes distribution to all schools requiring or recommending it on your school list.
There are many technical requirements for the exam and you should read the AAMC instruction manual thoroughly before sitting for the exam.
Your responses are ranked according to how closely they align with those of medical educators’ ranking. Your total score is scaled to account for exam variations and you are given a score between 1 (the lowest) and 9 (the highest). A score of nine means you are perfectly aligned with those of medical educators, and a score less than that means your responses are aligned less with those of medical educators.
A confidence band is also presented to account for test variability and to aid in interpretation of where your true score likely lies. Percentile ranks are also reported which help to position your performance amongst other applicants.
Your scores will automatically be added to your AMCAS application meaning your scores will be automatically reported to MD schools.
The AAMC provides lots of free resources to applicants to prepare for the exam. We recommend you visit their website and use their prep materials and sample questions. PREview assesses whether you’re able to make decisions based on certain competencies and principles, so reviewing the medical ethics section above will also help you prepare!
If you’re really looking to take your PREview prep to the next level, you can also check out our Casper prep tool. This includes:
Kira consists of either a live interview or an asynchronous interview, the latter being a one-way recording, similar to Snapshot. You will not know the questions beforehand but will be given them at the time of the exam. Then, you will have a limited time to record an answer.
The best way to prepare for Kira is to record yourself answering interview questions, similar to how you would prepare for Snapshot. The goal with both Kira and Snapshot is to assess how you present yourself, how you think ‘on your feet,’ and to get a sense of your personality.
Similar to Snapshot, here are some questions to think about while preparing:
– Why do you want to be a physician?
– What is one of your greatest strengths?
– Why should you be admitted to medical school?
– Tell us about someone you admire and why?
– Describe a non-academic obstacle that you have overcome.
– What excites you about a career as a physician?
As of 2023, the only US allopathic medical school that requires the Kira Talent Interview is University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.
If you’re looking to maximize your chances of success, you could also invest in MedSchoolCoach interview prep services. Our physician advisors have helped thousands of students get into medical school and have logged over 500,000 advising hours total. They can deliver the expert insights and coaching you need to ace your Kira Talent Interview and get the acceptances you deserve.
Now let’s dive into some closing thoughts on how to conquer the virtual assessment portion of your medical school application. Although these evaluations are an important part of getting into medical school, they are not the most important. No matter what you end up scoring, stay focused on moving forward with your application!
1. Make sure you know which schools require which test and when. Get the tests done as early
in the application cycle as possible so that you don’t delay your application.
2. Wherever you take the exam (in your room, office, library, etc) be sure to test your
internet connection, lighting, sound and camera. You don’t want to have your internet go out when
you are recording an answer! Also, be sure you are not disturbed or interrupted during the test.
3. Dress professional! The recordings should really be from about your shoulders up but be
sure to have a professional shirt on and your hair/make-up styled appropriately. Also, make sure you
background is free of distractions and professional!
4. Remember to practice recording yourself! It may seem easy but record and review practice
responses. You may be surprised to see things you may do that you have no idea about! (ie- swiveling
in your chair, messing with your hair, etc).
5. Keep going! These exams are only one part of your application. No matter your score, keep
focusing on moving forward with your application and always putting your best foot forward!
I want to talk about something that most BS/MD students don’t usually consider until it’s too late. It’s good to[...]
As virtual assessments and interviews become the new norm, it's important to know how to ace the latest evaluations. The[...]
Table of Contents Medical morality involves the moral principles and values that guide decision-making in healthcare. After completing a medical[...]
Thinking about applying to medical school? Discover what high school students need to know about obtaining a career in medicine.Download
Get ready for the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 with this free guide to study planning and resource utilization.Download
Taking the MCAT? These 100 tips and tricks will help you ace the MCAT.Download