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What is CASPer?
The Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) test, is a web based assessment of interpersonal skills and decision making abilities designed by McMaster University for screening applicants' professional and personal characteristics.
What universities utilize CASPer?
CASPer is currently used by the following schools:
Medical schools that utilize CASPer:
- Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (McMaster Medical School)
- University of Ottawa (uOttawa) Med School
- New York Medical College (NYMC)
- Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (Rutgers RWJ)
- Central Michigan University (CMU) College of Medicine
- Quillen College of Medicine East Tennesse State University
- Tulane University College of Medicine
- University of Illinois (UIC) College of Medicine
- Dalhousie Medical School
Nursing education programs that utilize CASPer:
- McMaster University Nursing Education Program
- Conestoga College, Mohawk College
- Internationally Educated Nursing and Second-Entry Nursing programs at York University
- University of Waterloo Doctor of Optometry Program
How important is CASPer to your application success?
For the 2016 application cycle, CASPer is worth 32% of the total pre-interview score of your application to McMaster medical school, this makes it weighed equally against your MCAT scores as well as your grade point average (GPA). What about other schools? Given the fact that other schools and programs using CASPer have adopted similar admissions screening tool, you can be sure that doing well on this test no matter what program or school you are applying to is going to be very important for admissions success.
Why use CASPer?
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 92% of the complaints made to the US medical boards were in reference to personal characteristics of the doctors. This urged the medical school admissions team at McMaster to create an alternative and better way of testing and selecting medical school candidates.
Whether it’s a dispute with a patient, a conflict with a colleague, or an emergency medical situation, doctors are up against difficult scenarios every day; scenarios that require, not only intelligence, but also ethical standards, communication and interpersonal skills as well as empathy, emotional maturity and quick thinking. These non-cognitive skills cannot be measured by essays or autobiographical sketches, therefore several studies were initiated to find an alternative method of testing for these skills[2,3,5].
CASPer is claimed to be significantly more reliable than the traditional screening methods such as autobiographical sketch and personal statements with greater predictability [2,4]. However, note that to date, there has been no independent study confirming the efficacy of CASPer as an admissions screening tool.
Where did this test come from?
In 2001, Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI’s), a series of short interviews, were created by McMaster as a method of testing the non-cognitive abilities of candidates. The success of MMI’s, and the realization that candidates poorly represented their non-cognitive skills through their autobiographical sketches, led to the implementation of CASPer in 2010-2011.
The test consists of 12 sections, followed by 3 questions related to the material presented in each section. These include both video-based and text-based scenarios based on every-day situation. The short video clips will ask for your response to various situations and scenarios. The text-based sections usually involve ‘personal’ questions, designed to find out more about the applicant. In total, CASPer takes 90 minutes to complete; with each section allowing only 5 minutes to answer all 3 questions, as well as a 15 minute break half way through and a short survey at the end.
How can you prepare for your CASPer test?
Before we give you some CASPer prep tips, let's first bust a common myth: "You can't prepare for CASPer" or "Situational judgement tests are immune to preparation".
Why is this a myth? It's a myth because the rationale is flawed. You can (and should) prepare for any learned behavior. Professional and personal characteristics are learned behaviors. In fact we discuss this and provide our frank opinion in this blog post in more detail.
1. Practice using realistic simulations:
Just like any other skill set you must practice using timed and realistic CASPer simulations. The same way you practiced for your MCAT for example or when you were learning how to ride a bike. Non-cognitive skills develop just like cognitive skills via practice and experience. (To learn more about our CASPer SIM™ practice tests & preparation programs click here.)
2. Get expert feedback:
Without expert feedback, you will not be able to identify your weakness and learn from them. We highly recommend that you take advantage of expert feedback from a medical doctor, or other professionals, such as BeMo's CASPer experts, who are familiar with the CASPer test.
3. Study medical ethics:
Many of the questions asked during your CASPer test are based on ethical dilemmas that arise during real-life situations and scenarios, therefore it is recommended that you get to know the medical system and the daily dilemmas faced in health care.
4. Know the American and/or Canadian health care systems:
You may be asked about issues facing US & Canada’s health care system today.
5. Read up on health care news:
Depending on whether you are applying to medical schools in the US or Canada, read up on the current healthcare news.
6. Learn good medical practice:
Sites such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and PhysiciansPractice - discuss good practice techniques for physicians, as well as dilemmas they may face and how to respond.
7. Learn medical ethics:
8. Personal preparation:
There are usually a few sections of the CASPer test designed to get to know you better. These sections serve the same purpose as the traditional autobiographical sketch. This is your opportunity to 'talk' to the admissions committee. Your goal is to demonstrate your high level of maturity, excellent communication skills, quick decision-making abilities, leadership, teamwork, and social responsibility based on your own personal experience. A good way to prepare for this is to think of such scenarios in advance and have them prepared; this will save you time trying to think of some during the test.
9. Practice, practice, practice:
CASPer is a different and unusual testing method so an important way to reduce anxiety and stress during the assessment is to make yourself familiar with the structure, questions, and timing of the test. Therefore, it is a good idea to find as much study material as possible and practice. (click here to practice using our sample CASPer Questions)
10. Avoid online premed forums
We discuss our frank opinion about online premed forums in this blog post so we won't go into details except to mention that if you want to stand out, you must avoid the common places the masses hangout - how can you possibly stand out if you do what everyone else is doing? Importantly those forums are full of misinformation, and are routinely monitored by medical school admissions. Read more here.
11. Additional CASPer tips
For additional tips visit our CASPer Tips blog written by a former CASPer test evaluator and one of BeMo's CASPer experts.
Your CASPer Score
Some of the most common questions we hear from our students include the following:
- "how is this test scored?"
- "what if I miss a question?"
- "who are the CASPer raters/evaluators?"
- "do the CASPer raters mark the test based on an answer sheet?"
- "what if I have a difficult rater with extremely high standards"
- "when will I get my CASPer score back?"
We wrote a comprehensive blog post on this topic with answer to all these frequently asked questions about CASPer scoring protocols. Click here to read more.
BeMo CASPer Preparation Programs:
As mentioned above, the CASPer test is claimed to be created as a result of several years of scientific research. At BeMo, we have used the same scientific approach, in collaboration with our team of scientists and medical school admissions experts to design an evidence-based strategy to help you prepare for the test. Our CASPer prep programs include:
- Test taking strategy - We will arm you with the ability to successfully answer ANY type of question.
- North America's ONLY realistic CASPer simulation (CASPer SIM™ tests) including HD video-based and text-based scenarios.
- Comprehensive analysis of your performance by experienced professionals - Our CASPer test experts will go over each question, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and provided you with specific recommendations.
- CASPer prep video course: learn our strategies to identify and ace ANY type of CASPer questions (16 in total)
Here's why students choose to prep with BeMo:
- Leaders in CASPer preparation
- Outstanding success rate
- Admissions experts with 53 years of combined experience
- 91% of our students refer us to their friends
- Money back guarantee
Click here to practice with our free sample CASPer videos & questions
If you haven't watched our 3-part CASPer Prep Mini Video Course Training Series, click here for instant access.