The CASPer examination is becoming a tool that medical school’s utilize to evaluate applicants in lieu of or in addition to the traditional medical school interview. So what is the CASPer examination and how can a prospective medical student prepare for it?
CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an online, web-based computer test that takes about 90 minutes. It was started to be utilized in Canada but now has been also utilized in US based medical school admissions, specifically at New York Medical College (NYMC) and Rutgers (NJMS). More schools will utilize it soon. CASper helps schools screen applicants as part of the admissions process, in addition to of course the GPA/MCAT/LOR and everything else that goes into a great medical school application.
CASPer has 12 stations. Each section follows a similar format consisting first of a short video or other directed text, followed by 2-3 questions relating to the material. Some sections are prompted by situational challenges displayed in short video clips; others are prompted by self-reflective questions. The applicant has 5 minutes to answer all questions in a given section.
CASPer tends to test medical and other scenarios focused on ethics and behavior. All the questions are not medically related, in fact most are simply behavioral questions. Here is a word based scenario:
Consider this statement: From time to time, we deal with conflict in some form.
Questions to the Applicant:
1. Describe a time when you had to deal with conflict and how you coped with it.
2. How might you handle a similar situation differently should it arise again?
3. What would be your strategy if you were faced with a conflict that was extremely difficult to resolve?
CASPer is not a test you necessarily need to “study” for, like the MCAT. In fact, it’s actually designed to not be studied for! It’s more testing your ability to think, handle situations, etc. However, we do recommend you go through a few scenarios or sample cases to get an idea. A great website with medical ethical scenarios and situations is University of Washington’s Bioethics page (https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/toc.html). If you feel comfortable thinking about and going through scenarios such as those laid out, you will be good to go for CASPer! There are a few other things that people recommend to study which we’ve included below (courtesy of Je Suis Banane on SDN)
1) Read “Doing Right” by Philip C. Hébert – Excellent crash course in medical ethics. This book contains a lot of different scenarios that if you have time to read will give you great insight.
2) Look up the background/FAQs of CASPer – Get a very good understanding of the format of the test, use CASPer’s sample test to your advantage (https://takecasper.com/sample-casper-test/), learn the history and acknowledge that the test is designed so that it is difficult to improve your score by studying
3) Find sample questions from different websites and use those to your advantage. There’s tons of stuff on YouTube if you do a quick search for ‘CASPer sample questions’, ‘medical ethics questions’, or ‘medical interview questions’.
4) Practice taking notes for videos/sample questions to accurately get an idea of the scenario. On test day, you can’t go back and re-watch the video. It’s a 1-time deal. Make it count!
Medical schools currently using CASPer (year adopted in brackets):
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