What is the CASPer test? It is a Computer Based Sampling of Personal Characteristics. The name itself does not offer much of an explanation. If you are familiar with Multiple Mini Interviews, it is easier to imagine the CASPer test as an online, written MMI. During CASPer you will review written or video prompts, and then you may be asked about your thoughts on the case, how you might resolve the situation, or even how your perspective would change if one of the variables was different. Of course, all of this has to be typed in a limited number of characters and in a limited amount of time.
In this blog, I’ll share my tips as a former CASPer evaluator, helping you understand how to take on this formidable challenge and ACE the CASPer test!
Overview of what you will learn about preparing for the CASPer test in this blog:
If you'd like to jump to one of these sections, simply click on the section link above.
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How To Prepare For CASPer: Learn the Fundamentals of the Test
At its core (and like the MMI), the CASPer test is an online situational judgment test (SJT) claimed to evaluate an applicant’s qualitative or “soft” skills, such as professionalism, maturity, and communication. Often, CASPer is used as an intermediary or additional step between application and later in-person interviews, allowing the admissions committee to determine a candidate’s likely suitability for the course of study and profession, prior to extending an invitation to meet in-person. As many schools and programs now engage in “holistic review” – that is, review of a candidate’s personal, professional, and scholastic competencies – evaluations like the CASPer test are intended to allow students to provide crucial insights into their own priorities, values, and interpersonal skills, so that these can be considered alongside their academic achievements. In fact, CASPer has been shown to count for up to 1/3 of an applicant's pre-interview score, meaning that effective CASPer test prep is absolutely crucial for performing well and getting an interview!
In taking the CASPer test, you will be presented with 12 prompts, one at a time, and you will have to respond to a set of three questions related to each prompt. The prompts are presented in either video or text format, and are often based on thought-provoking, real-life situations, professional ethics, and hot topics in your field, and the associated questions offer you the opportunity to demonstrate key qualities sought in professionals in your discipline. Note that, while the CASPer test is intended to gauge certain characteristics in evaluating applicants in specific disciplines, the prompts themselves are not necessarily based exclusively on information in those disciplines. Rather, the prompts and questions could be related to any real-life activity, such as incidents witnessed or experienced in everyday life (e.g., a friend about to drive while intoxicated, rude customers in a store, current events/issues in the headlines, etc.). Even if you do get a question related to your field, it is understood that you yourself are not yet a practicing professional, so specialized or advanced knowledge of the field are not required. They simply want to see your priorities, initial reactions, and tendencies in responding to challenging scenarios.
Here is a sample video-based scenario, including sample follow-up questions!
How To Prepare For CASPer: Read Up on Headlines, Debates, and Hot Topics
As an initial step you can begin your CASPer prep by reading news articles, so you are up-to-date with current events, or by paying particular attention to patient cases, court rulings, or other headlines that are related to your future profession (e.g. medico-legal cases). You can also, as part of your early preparation, begin reviewing ethics. And, of course, since CASPer is a test of your personal characteristics, spend some time reflecting on your own past experiences and how they have helped you develop certain non-cognitive skills such as having the capacity to problem-solve, resolve conflicts, or collaborate with others. CASPer will not use prompts that exactly mirror your past personal experiences, but by going through the reflecting process of contemplating your past experiences, you will be able to identify similarities between what you have learned and the prompts you are given, and thus you will be able to formulate a response quickly and appropriately.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Understand the Timing
One key area where the CASPer test differs from the MMI is in the timing. It is like an MMI without being given time to prepare your response and with less time to state your answer. You will have 5 minutes to type answers for the three questions presented in each station. It also takes more time to respond in writing, rather than verbally. For this reason, most applicants find providing what they think is enough of a response to be extremely stressful. And the time pressure is immense. But there are strategies to overcome this. Prepare yourself as best you can. Manage your anxieties on test day and keep your wits about you. Focus on the quality – not quantity – of your response.
- Bonus Tip: Feeling unsure about your ability to type quickly and accurately? Search online for free programs to help improve your typing speed!
There's a lot of misinformation out there! Here are the top 2 myths about CASPer test prep:
How To Prepare For CASPer: Learn How the CASPer Test is REALLY Evaluated
You might hear that there are no right or wrong answers on a CASPer test. Is it really that ambiguous? Not really. CASPer raters do not have an answer key, so there is technically no single “right” answer. Rather, responses are analyzed to see if they reflect the qualities of a good, moral professional. There are often a few reasonable responses to a given scenario. No answer is truly wrong, either. However, there are responses that either do not reflect good personal or professional qualities or are inappropriate. If you would not share your answer in a face-to-face interview, you are on the wrong track with your response; if you cannot imagine a professional saying it, don’t say it. Answers that are poorly composed or demonstrate limited understanding and reasoning will score poorly. Answers that are unprofessional can result in a red flag for an entire test.
The CASPer test is marked on a numerical scale that reflects how well your response either meets, does not meet, or exceeds the assessors’ expectations, and each station has 3 questions and is rated on a scale of 9. Simply answering the questions is likely enough to receive an average score. However, average scores for all your responses are not enough to succeed. To exceed expectations, you will have to provide excellent reasoning for how and why you formulated your decision through an effective communication style. It’s not impossible to score well, and this can be done with preparation and practice. Follow this link to find out exactly how CASPer is scored.
Content Evaluation: What you say, and how you say it
Let’s explore some of the things the CASPer test raters are looking for in reviewing your answers, so you can ensure you know how to prepare for CASPer effectively. In each response to the prompt, evaluators are trained to mark based on the following:
- How many of the key ideas in the prompt you have identified
- Whether you have isolated the key pressing issue(s) and addressed this maturely and professionally
- Whether you are objective, non-judgmental, professional, mindful, compassionate, and diplomatic, and whether you’ve carried over any assumptions from the prompt (or, better, whether you have questioned such assumptions and applied critical thinking skills in exploring the scenario)
- Your ability to avoid a biased, one-sided response and to consider multiple perspectives
- Whether you demonstrate consistent moral and ethical values, and whether your adherence to such values is maintained under pressure
- Your ability to provide clear, concise answers, demonstrating effective communication skills
- Whether your response feels scripted, insincere, or “canned”, or whether it is authentic and genuine
- Whether you pursue positive resolution to conflict, or whether you back away from conflict or act as a bystander (rather than an “upstander” – one who defends the rights of others and acts in the interest of vulnerable parties)
A response that manages to do all of these things will likely receive strong marks in the evaluation.
“Wait… I have to do all of that in only 5 minutes?!”
Now, in my experience, it is at this point that many students become nervous. You’ve seen how the CASPer test is scored, you’ve seen a significant list of things to consider as you assemble your response, and you now know that you have to do all of these things for each question, and you have a mere 5 minutes to do it all at each station! How on earth are you supposed to put together such robust answers to three open-ended questions with that level of nuance in 5 tiny, precious minutes?
If you’ve been a student for a while and have taken many tests, it would seem logical that, with each station having 3 questions and a total of 9 possible points for the station, each of those 3 questions would be worth 3 points. However, it must be emphasized, that this is NOT how the CASPer test is scored! Rather (and as detailed in that link), each station is evaluated as a whole, out of 9, regardless of how many questions are answered. That is to say, even if you leave a question completely blank, you will not necessarily lose points – it is absolutely possible to receive an excellent score, even if only two questions are answered, for example. To repeat: you will NOT necessarily receive a lower score if you’ve not been able to answer all three questions. It is entirely possible to score high even if you only have time to answer one of the three questions for each station. Even if you run out of time and the test automatically advances to the next question before you’ve completed the sentence you are typing, there is no need to panic. The CASPer test evaluators know that you are pressed for time and are trained not to penalize you for such things.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Review Practice Questions and Expert Responses
No one knows exactly what questions they will receive on the actual CASPer test, but reviewing practice questions and expert responses will help you internalize the workings of strong, effective responses. While it’s highly unlikely you will actually get the questions you review on the test itself, you will be fortified by structures, tendencies, qualities, and approaches for strong answers, and you can begin to make those structures, tendencies, qualities, and approaches your own.
Remember, the point is not to memorize content in reviewing such questions and answers; the point is to develop a particular set of tools for answering questions in a way that is meaningful for, and reflective of, you and your own unique experiences and observations.
Here's a sample text-based scenario, including questions with expert responses:
How To Prepare For CASPer: Practice with Realistic Simulations
It’s one thing to review practice questions and expert responses; it’s quite another to actually practice in test-like conditions. So, while you’ll want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with question and answer types, you’ll need to move from that to realistic simulations that are timed, and that have both video- and text-based stations, so that you can begin to develop familiarity with the actual test-taking conditions. At BeMo, our CASPer test prep programs provide exactly that: realistic simulations that mimic actual test conditions as much as possible, so you know exactly how to prepare for CASPer. This realistic CASPer test prep is about more than just getting the methodology and techniques down (though this is of paramount importance, of course!); it’s also about knowing what to expect. Feeling comfortable in the test environment will help mitigate nervousness, stress, and anxiety that comes with taking tests, especially those of particular importance, like the CASPer test.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Get Expert, One-on-One Feedback
Mentorship, coaching, and invested, formative feedback are crucial in developing expertise. I could watch hundreds of hours of Olympic athletes performing at their best and attempt to mimic their work in my own practice, but this alone will not allow me to maximize my potential. Watching others is indeed useful, but without an expert watching my practice, identifying things I may not even realize I’m doing, commenting on and correcting my form, and providing commentary specifically intended to help me best display my assets and improve on areas where I’m limited, I will only go so far.
This is applicable in nearly any context where mastery is pursued. If we’re not consulting with professionals, who can give us an objective evaluation of our work, we’re likely to practice imperfectly, and only perfect practice makes perfect. This is why our one-on-one CASPer test prep consultations are so highly sought, highly effective, and highly rated! Our experts are dedicated to your success – it’s literally our job! We are all passionate, practicing professionals in relevant fields, and we want you to do well. Our CASPer test prep feedback sessions show you how to prepare for CASPer, by allowing our experts to review your answers, highlight exactly what you’re doing well and what still needs work, and help you identify errors or weaknesses you may not see yourself, simply because you are not trained to see them.
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1. Time yourself with practice
In any testing situation, success is best achieved by practicing under conditions that resemble the actual test. One of the most stressful aspects of the CASPer test is the limited time. Timed practice will help you figure out how to articulate your thoughts more efficiently and you’ll be able to quickly adapt to the actual test. Therefore, practice using realistic simulations and make sure you receive adequate feedback on your performance.
2. Use your own voice
Responding with what you think an assessor wants to read stands out for the wrong reasons. Those who respond with what they believe is the “right” answer, can sound disingenuous or impractical. Usually these responses sound inauthentic or are poorly constructed because the emphasis is on showcasing a particular quality rather than on developing a response. It’s best to state what your gut reaction is, explain why you feel this way, and what other perspectives you would consider.
3. Make a decision
If you’re asked a “What would you do?”-type question you must include the action you would take in your response. It is not enough to demonstrate that you can look at an issue from multiple sides or identify the difficulty in the scenario. What resolution do you propose? The task that is required is answering what you would do after considering these different perspectives and challenges. Demonstrating that you are capable of following through on your decisions – even if you know others might disagree – is often the difference between an exceptional and average score.
4. Make statements
If you’re asked a “What would you say?”-type question, you also have to include your statement in your response. Many people respond with what qualities they would like to demonstrate in their response or how they hope another person would perceive their response, but very few include what words they would actually use. For example, “I would want to be empathetic” does not answer the question as effectively as “I would say ‘I am sorry for your loss.’”
5. Shake it off
Nothing is going to go perfectly all the time. You can expect to make a few fumbles in some of your responses. In a rapid-fire test like CASPer, you must shake off any anxieties about a question before the next. Focus on the task at hand. Individual questions are marked by separate assessors, so each task is a fresh start. Worrying about a previous answer while working on a response in the present is a sure way to derail your responses.
There's a lot of misinformation out there! Here are the top 2 myths about CASPer test prep:
1. Don't forget the little things!
Make sure your caps lock is not turned on, avoid slang, and try your best to be grammatically correct with minimal spelling errors. Your answers will not be graded on your use of English, but capably putting your thoughts into words means you are probably a good communicator.
2. Don't quote directly from your preparation material
Most, if not all, assessors are very familiar with common preparation resources, like “Doing Right”. Using the same language as these tools makes your ideas appear unoriginal. For example, prefacing your response with “According to the principle of justice….” does not sound as authentic as “In order to be fair to everyone involved….” Use your own words!
3. Don't leave an answer blank simply because you don’t know how to respond
Assessors know how challenging the CASPer test is. They also know that the issues with which you will be presented will not be resolved in the time you have to craft your response. If you have difficulty coming up with any response, explain why that is. Is the situation emotionally volatile? Do you have limited experience working with the people involved? Who would you ask for guidance? Blank answers can be an opportunity to show that you can recognize your limitations and know how to overcome them. A blank answer or two in each section won't necessary get you poor marks for that section, provided that your responses to the other questions are excellent.
4. Don't listen to people who say "you can't prepare"
This is misguided at best. Of course you can prepare in advance. After all, nobody is born with personal and professional characteristics. These skills are learned behaviors. In fact, our study has shown that students on average can improve their practice scores by up to 23% with appropriate preparation.
The Top 4 Reasons Most Applicants Fail Their CASPer Test & How to Avoid Them:
As you have seen, one of the most common myths about CASPer is that there is no way to prepare for the test in advance. While it is true that no one can predict exactly which scenarios and questions they will receive on the test, we have identified a number of different CASPer question types, each of which absolutely CAN be considered in advance. Let’s take a look at some of the most common CASPer question types: Scenario, Policy, Personal, and Quirky
Check out our video, "3 CASPer Question Types You Need to Know: Situational, Policy, Personal"
Scenario-type questions are by far the most common on the CASPer test, and also the most varied. Scenario questions will usually provide a hypothetical situation based on real-world experiences, define a role for you to fill, and ask questions about the steps you would take or considerations you would bear in mind in responding to the situation. Note that the hypothetical situations are not necessarily related to the discipline or program you’re entering; likewise, even in situations that may represent conditions in which you could find yourself as a practicing professional, the evaluators know that you are not yet a practicing professional, and thus do not expect you to have specialized knowledge in order to answer the question effectively. For example, if you are applying to medical school and receive a CASPer test scenario in which you’re an ER physician working with a frantic patient having chest pains, you are not expected to know how to actually treat the condition reflected by the symptoms exhibited by the patient. What you will want to show, however, is how you will speak with the patient, how you will de-escalate the situation, how you will think through resources available to you, etc.
For scenario-type questions, we advise a series of steps that demonstrate professionalism, maturity, critical thinking skills, and communication skills. These can work in nearly any hypothetical situation, though the ways in which the steps are taken can differ considerably, depending on the details of the scenario itself. The steps are as follows:
- Identify the type of scenario you’re dealing with, as well as your role in the scenario. That is to say, what kind of issue are you confronting in the scenario – is it an ethical or legal dilemma? An issue of scope of practice or professional boundaries? A situation that requires conflict resolution? An issue of consent or patient autonomy? Note that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive; sometimes, for example, an ethical dilemma may also require some conflict resolution. Knowing the type of scenario will help you figure out how best to navigate the situation, and will help you begin thinking toward the practical options available to you. Understanding your role will also help with this; a senior director of a law firm, for example, will likely many more options (and many more types of options) than an administrator at the same law firm.
- Gather all of the facts and maintain a non-judgmental perspective. Most scenarios will leave out key information necessary to determining a plan of action. As well, many scenarios will contain information or assumptions that distract from the key issue at hand. Because of this, you must ask questions and even show some skepticism toward the prompt. To gather information, detail the kinds of questions you might ask, the sources of information you might consult, the colleagues with whom you may want to collaborate or converse to ensure you’re upholding best practices, etc. (Don’t worry – examples of such things will be offered in the sample questions and responses in the next section!) To show skepticism toward the prompt, identify potential assumptions and demonstrate how you would go about confirming these. If, for example, you’re given a scenario in which you are a hospital Director who must consider accepting advertising funds from a tobacco manufacturer as your only potential source of funding for your financially-struggling hospital, put some pressure on that assumption! It is very, very unlikely that something like this would be the only source of funding available – instead, discuss your plan to establish a Grants and Fundraising Committee to research any new grants that may have been introduced, to put together some fundraising events or campaigns, and to see if there are cost-cutting measures that haven’t yet been implemented in the hospital.
- Identify the most pressing issue. As noted above, scenario-type questions will often have a prompt that includes a lot of information, and not all of that information is immediately relevant. Such additional information acts as a distractor, to see if you can review a complicated situation and isolate the key issue, setting aside those issues or elements that are less pressing. Generally, the most pressing issue in a scenario will be the well-being of the most vulnerable party or parties, and/or those who are in your care. There may be several pressing issue, but which is the one that requires your immediate attention?
- Identify directly and indirectly involved parties. Most scenarios will have a number of stakeholders, some more obvious, some less obvious. Being able to imagine the wider circle of responsibility speaks to your maturity and forethought. Using the example of the financially-struggling hospital above, the directly involved parties are pretty clear: you, as the hospital Director, and the tobacco representative who has approached you to offer the deal. However, there are a wealth of indirectly involved parties that must be taken into consideration: the hospital’s patients (in whose best interest it may not be to make such an ethically-dubious deal), hospital staff (who rely on you as the Director to make financially and ethically-sound decisions), the hospital itself (in terms of the reputation of the institution), the other members of the hospital’s Board of Directors (who should be consulted prior to making a decision as big as this one), and the practice of medicine as a whole (since taking such a deal may harm public trust).
- Consider several practical options using a series of “if/then” statements. After you’ve identified the scenario type, gathered information, questioned assumptions, isolated the most pressing issue, and considered the ramifications of your actions for a variety of directly and indirectly involved parties, you’ll likely see that there are many possible options for you to consider. While you’re not expected to be able to think of every single possible option, demonstrating a spread of options will highlight your ability to perceive a situation from multiple perspectives, as well as your ability to understand the effects of different actions you may take. Again, drawing on the same example above, some possible options are: refuse the offer outright; take the offer to the Board of Directors, to consider the opinions of your colleagues and use the offer as a way to stimulate new and creative thinking about financial options for the struggling hospital; or, to accept the offer. For each of these, you should be able to identify ways these attend to the most pressing issue, and the ways they would impact the involved parties you’ve identified.
- Form a decision that is scientifically and/or ethically sound, and which minimizes harm to those directly and indirectly involved. Now that you’ve established all of the above and thought through some possible options for action, it’s finally time to make a decision, and tell the evaluator what you will actually do in the scenario. You must clearly demonstrate why you think this is the best option, as well as the impact of this decision on the parties you identified previously. It’s also a good idea to think toward the future – if this is a problem or dilemma of some kind, can you think of some steps you could take to try to avoid it in coming up again the future?
At the end of this post, you’ll see some sample questions and expert answers, so you can see how all of this comes together in one detailed, robust, and nuanced response. First, though, let’s discuss some of the other question types.
Policy-type questions will usually ask you to give your opinion on something concrete in the real world – it could point to common practices in your field, recent curricular or practical innovations, or even contentious issues in the public sphere. For example, recreational cannabis has recently been legalized in Canada and several U.S. states, and there is a wealth of opinions both for and against this policy. What is your “take” on this new development? When asked such a question, we normally assume that our own perspective and rationale is the most important thing to express, and – in general – that is accurate. However, they way in which you provide this is just as important as what you actually say. The steps for answering a policy-type question are as follows:
- Demonstrate some knowledge and awareness of the issue. As an aspiring professional, it is important that you’re aware of developments and tensions in your field and in the world. While no one can be aware of everything, everywhere, you want to show that you are mature, connected, and able to think about complex – even contentious – issues in ways that reflect such qualities. So, for example, if you were asked about your opinion on legal recreational cannabis, being able to point to the headlines, to show that you understand how this conversation is unfolding in the public sphere, will demonstrate that knowledge and awareness.
- Provide a few arguments for (pros) and against (cons) the policy. Here is where the complexity of policy-type questions begins to emerge. While you may be temped to begin answering the question directly (“My opinion on legal recreational cannabis is…”), you actually want to reserve your own evaluation of the issue for now. First, you want to offer some of the pros and cons around the policy itself, and to do so from a non-judgmental perspective that prioritizes potentially vulnerable parties (so, being patient-centered, student-centered, or centered on vulnerable populations). By withholding your own judgment and presenting these arguments, you show the evaluator that you are willing to consider multiple perspectives before arriving at a decision, and that you are able to fairly represent arguments with which you may disagree. The ability to highlight the validity of multiple, competing perspectives, to acknowledge these as valid, and to let concerns from both sides direct your own reasoning, are all hallmarks of complex, non-judgmental, critical thinking.
- Offer your evaluation of the issue or policy in question. Now, after you’ve addressed some pros and cons, you can offer your own take. Your discussion of your opinion should demonstrate strong, careful reasoning, illustrating the ways in which your consideration maximizes the pros and minimizes the cons that you’ve just provided. Again, this doesn’t mean that you write off positions with which you disagree as wrong or irrelevant; rather, you should demonstrate their validity while still demonstrating why your approach best maximizes the benefits you’ve identified previously.
- Offer possible modifications. As a final step, you should return to those cons leftover from the second step and show how you would address these and/or how your own approach resolves or mitigates any cons that may remain. Are there approaches that those on the “other side” of the argument may not have considered? Is there a “third way” that could be implemented to get around or resolve any limitations? Be creative – as a mature and aware individual, you’ve likely thought through your position on such things before, maybe you’ve even debated the issue with others. Draw on that to show how and why your argument is the strongest and most sustainable, while still addressing the validity of those who disagree with you.
Personal questions can be really tricky. Maybe you’re not sure what, exactly, is being evaluated in such questions, or maybe they ask a question about one of your experiences and you simply can’t think of an example. This uncertainty can cause a dreaded “blank mind”, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety (while also wasting precious seconds in your 5-minute time limit!). To help you think through this, we can break most personal questions down into different types: questions about negative circumstances, “Discuss a time when…” questions, and questions about successes or positive influences on your life.
- “Negative” questions. These are questions that ask about times when we failed, about our weaknesses or limitations, or about times when we simply were not at our best. No one likes answering these kinds of questions. A question like, "What is your greatest weakness?" leaves us feeling exposed or inadequate, asking us to disclose things we may not want evaluators knowing about us, especially when we’re already in a tense or vulnerable situation (like taking a test that may determine whether or not we get an interview!). That is the exact reason why such questions are asked in tests like CASPer! They want to see how you will respond to such questions under pressure. More than that, though, they want to see how (or if) you were able to pull through a difficult time in your life, acknowledge your own imperfections, and identify take-aways that allowed you to learn, grow, and better yourself. So, in answering such questions, it is best to be honest about the situation/failure/shortcoming, explain what happened without dwelling on the negative aspects, and spend most of your time focusing precisely on those “take-aways” – what you learned, how you grew, and how you used (or are using) that negative situation to make you a better, more mature, professional. If you can connect those take-aways to the profession you’re pursuing, that’s even better!
- “Describe a time when…” These questions can be positive or negative (“Describe a time when you came into conflict with a superior,” or “Describe a time when you had to be a leader”), but – as with all CASPer test questions – the key is to focus on the qualities you want the evaluator to know about you, the qualities seen as ideal for those in your desired program or profession. Remember, those key qualities are generally professionalism, maturity, communication skills, compassion or empathy, adherence to ethics, etc.
- Questions about successes or positive influences. Questions of this type may include things like, “Who is your role model?” or “What is your biggest accomplishment?” Again, the technique and approach doesn’t really differ from the above. Clearly and honestly state your answer, discuss the key points that give the evaluator a solid overview of the situation, and focus on what you learned and the qualities you want to highlight. Don’t be overly prideful or boastful, and don’t make yourself look good by putting others down. Rather, explore the ways such an experience demonstrates how and why you are a “good fit” for your chosen profession.
A quick final note on personal questions: It’s crucial to realize that we all have ideals, successes, and failures. You are not expected to be a perfect person, as long as you’re able to critically reflect on your experiences in meaningful ways, and connect such reflections to the key qualities of professionals in your field. Don’t be afraid to admit failures, weaknesses, or limitations, and don’t brag about your successes. Neither of these are qualities of mature, reflective, professionals or members of society. You are going into a particular field, but – beneath all of our expertise, disciplinary specializations, and education – we are all human. We have all lived up to and fallen short of our own ideals. What’s important is to be reflective, to be introspective, and to be able to analyze ourselves at our best and worst. To prepare for personal questions, simply begin such reflection early, so that you don’t “draw a blank” if you come across such a question. As you were preparing your application, you should already have been thinking about your work, school, and life experiences, so use this as a way to isolate these kinds of moments in your own auto-biography, and start assembling narratives that respond to the types of personal questions identified here. This work of deeply, honestly probing who you are, who you have been, and who you want to be, is one of the best things you can do to prepare for this type of question.
Though less common on CASPer than in MMIs or face-to-face interviews, quirky questions are often unexpected, amusing, or interpretive questions, which aim to test your “on-the-spot” thinking. For example, a common quirky-type question will provide you a quotation and ask you to express what that quotation means to you, how you might apply such meaning to your desired profession, and a time in your life when such meaning became particularly evident to you. Another example might be to ask about your favorite X (book, film, show, etc.), and to ask for some reflection on why that is your favorite, what it means to you, etc. As with personal-type questions, it’s important to focus on qualities you want to emphasize and how these align with the ideal qualities of professionals in your field.
Here's a summary of our recommended strategies for approaching each station in the CASPer test:
Below, you will find 4 sample stations, one for each station type identified earlier: scenario, policy, personal, quirky. Each of the answers is specifically designed to demonstrate strategies you can use for effective CASPer test prep. What is important about the answers here is less what is said, but how it is said and structured. See if you can identify the techniques and structures provided earlier in the answers offered here. Once you’ve done this, you can use this as a practice set to compose your own responses.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Sample Scenario CASPer Question and Expert Response
Prompt: You are at the airport with your family, preparing to board a plane to your favorite vacation destination. The flight attendants prepare to begin calling passengers for boarding. Prior to calling for passengers in first class, the attendant asks for any passengers with disabilities to come forward for priority boarding. A couple, a young man and woman in their mid-to-late twenties, begins moving toward desk; the man is carrying all of their carry-on baggage, and they are smiling and laughing, with no visible complications with movement in either of them, and neither has any kind of visible mobility device (e.g., a cane, crutches, wheelchair, etc.). As they move past you, the woman in line behind you sighs loudly. You turn to look at her, and she is glancing around at your fellow passengers, visibly annoyed. She loudly proclaims, “This is unbelievable! Look at them!” She notices you looking at her, catches your eye, and looks at you expectantly. “You know what I mean, right?” she says to you, gesturing toward the couple, who have overheard this and look visibly upset.
1. What would you do in this situation?
2. To use accessible parking spaces, people with disabilities must display a special placard, or have special license plates on their car. Do you think similar documentation should be required for accommodations like the one posited in the scenario (priority boarding on a flight)? Why or why not?
3. Can you describe a time when you intervened on behalf of someone else in a public space?
Click here to read sample CASPer scenario expert response.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Sample Policy CASPer Question and Expert Response
Prompt: On the heels of the recent legalization of recreational cannabis (marijuana) in Canada and several U.S. states, debates around full decriminalization or legalization of illicit substances have been renewed in some medical, legal, and political circles.
1. What is your opinion on legal recreational cannabis?
2. What is your opinion on legalizing or decriminalizing other illicit substances, such as cocaine, heroin, or MDMA?
3. What do you think is the key driver of illegal drug consumption, and what can be done to address this?
Click here to read sample CASPer policy expert response.
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How To Prepare For CASPer: Sample Personal CASPer Question and Expert Response
Prompt: From time to time, we all make decisions we regret. Whether bound by less-than-ideal circumstances, lack of resources to make the best decision, or a lack of foresight or maturity, everyone has made a bad or unfortunate decision in their lives.
1. Can you reflect on a decision you’ve made that you later regretted?
2. How can one move past, or learn from, such regret?
3. Did you ever make what seemed like a bad decision, only to later learn that it was still the best decision at the time? Reflect on this.
Click here to read sample CASPer personal expert response.
How To Prepare For CASPer: Sample Quirky CASPer Question and Expert Response
Prompt: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. What does this quotation mean to you?
2. Can you reflect on a time when this quotation was relevant in your own life?
3. How does this question relate to your desired field?
Click here to read sample CASPer quircky expert response.
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How To Prepare For CASPer: Conclusion
There is still plenty of time in advance of CASPer to work through these suggestions as you practice on your own (N.B: We recommend that you do not begin practicing on your own without having someone holding your hand at first, as it is challenging to navigate through the various question types and more importantly, without having expert feedback at first you will not know whether your responses are appropriate, mature, and professional). The more familiar you become with the CASPer test format and how to structure your responses the more relaxed you will be. Drawing from personal experience and other resources to learn more about current events and healthcare related issues will make your responses more efficient and effective. Practice and preparation will take you a long way in this test!
At BeMo, we help students unpack each question type, and we offer specific strategies and structures for responding to each type of question. While we certainly can’t give you memorizable scripts (nor would we want to, as that is not effective preparation!), we can absolutely help you develop the skills necessary to tackle each question type effectively. Remember, “practice” actually doesn’t make “perfect”; rather, PERFECT practice makes perfect! It’s no use practicing if you don’t have effective advice for practice and expert feedback on that practice. Without these, you could unintentionally be practicing – and thus, reinforcing – bad habits, which will not help you get the score you need to get that interview invitation. Let BeMo help you practice perfectly!
1. How do I know if I am doing a good job when I practice?
It is important to practice with quality CASPer questions and test simulations, as well as to know answer strategies for different questions. But unfortunately, even this is not enough. You might have the right approach, but unless you have someone assessing the quality of your answers, you cannot feel truly ready. Unless someone tells you what you should work on and how to improve your answers, likely, your answers will not improve. Professional feedback is key, because a medical school advisor can identify your problem areas, give you concrete actionable advice, and provide you with necessary training. If you need help preparing for your CASPer test, make sure to contact us.
2. Will I know how I did on my CASPer test?
No, you will not receive your CASPer test score. You are not provided with any form of feedback. The schools that invite you to an interview may discuss your score, but this is not guaranteed.
3. How much does it cost to take CASPer?
It costs $10 to write the test. Additionally, you will pay $10 for each school to which you’re sending your score.
4. How long is the CASPer test?
The test takes about 90 minutes to complete. You will have about 65 minutes of questions, as well as an optional 10-minute break at the halfway point (after 6 sections). I strongly recommend you take the break. Make sure you relax and get your mind off the test. Do not go over the questions you already completed in your head – this will only make you anxious!
5. How is CASPer structured?
The test is comprised of 12 scenarios dealing with real-life situations. You are asked 3 follow up questions based on the scenario observed. You are given 5 minutes to type your answers for those three questions.
6. Where can I take the test?
You can take the test on a computer at a location of your choice. Since the test requires your attention, make sure that you’re in a quiet place with no distractions. You may use headphones to help you concentrate and eliminate background noise. Make sure that your computer has a webcam and a reliable internet connection that passes the CASPer System Requirements Check.
7. Does my grammar affect my score?
No, your grammar does not affect your score. However, you make a better impression with an answer that has as few errors as possible. A well-written, clear answer will make a positive impression on the evaluator!
8. Who rates my CASPer test?
Each section of your test is scored by one evaluator, making your final CASPer score a combination of 12 independent impressions of you. The evaluators do not have access to any of your personal information, such as your name, gender, race, age, etc. This is done to eliminate the biases associated with traditional evaluations of personal characteristics. CASPer evaluators are recruited from various backgrounds and professions.
9. Can anyone become a CASPer evaluator?
Theoretically, yes. To become a CASPer evaluator you must apply online via email. Upon successful review, you will be invited to begin an onboarding and training program, which includes a short version of the CASPer test, an online video training module, a competency test, a set of practice responses, and a training on Implicit Bias. You cannot become an evaluator if you are planning to take CASPer. Members of your family and close friends are also disqualified to become CASPer evaluators if you’re taking the test.
10. How do programs use CASPer scores?
It is up to the individual programs to determine how they will incorporate the CASPer score into their application decisions. Some programs may use CASPer for interview considerations, others include CASPer in assessing offers of admission. The same CASPer score may be competitive for one program but less competitive for another. The influence of the score also depends on the competitiveness of the applicant pool for each individual program. Visit the program of your choice to find out how CASPer scores are used.
11. Do all MD programs require CASPer?
No, not all medical schools require CASPer. Check out a list of medical schools that require CASPer to see if your program of choice is on the list.
12. I only get 5 minutes to answer 3 questions! It’s not enough!
You do not need to answer all three questions to get a high score. The key is to provide a quality answer for any of the three follow-up questions. It may be that you cover all three questions in your first answer. Remember to follow answer strategies and construct a thorough answer. If it’s a scenario question, identify the pressing issue, the vulnerable party, and provide a sound solution. If it’s a policy question, demonstrate your knowledge of the policy, give a couple of pros and cons, and finish with your own take on the issue. Lastly, if it’s a personal question, give a short background to explain your situation, demonstrate what actions you took, and close off by explaining what you learned. Most importantly, remain non-judgmental in all of your answers.
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To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
Disclaimer: CASPer stands for computer-based assessment for sampling personal characteristics and is claimed to be a trademark of McMaster & Altus. BeMo does not recommend, endorse nor affiliate with CASPer, Altus or McMaster and vice versa. BeMo only provides preparation services and practice tests. To take CASPer, contact Altus directly.
About BeMo Academic Consulting:
BeMo is the most sought-after academic consulting firms in the world famous for helping applicants with admissions to highly competitive programs and its staunch advocacy for fair admissions. BeMo is the leader in CASPer test prep, Multiple Mini Interview prep, traditional interview prep, panel interview prep, and application review for highly competitive graduate and professional programs.
With over 26,719 students around the world, BeMo has helped more students get into competitive programs than any other expert in the field. BeMo's high-end consulting programs are often at full capacity before peak seasons and it has grown exponentially because of its outstanding success rate of 93.5%. BeMo has the highest rating of any other Academic Consulting with a 4.8/5 score on Trustpilot. BeMo has published multiple books on admissions including the following Amazon Best Sellers:
BeMo’s founder and CEO, Dr. Behrouz Moemeni, is an internationally renowned admissions expert. His motivation-based admissions screening strategy has appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, University World News, and Nature Jobs. He regularly presents thought-provoking presentations to an international audience including appearances at TEDx and Beyond Sciences Initiative. He is also the author of the book 14 Rules for Admissions Screening in Higher Ed: An Antidote to Bias. He is compelled by a vision to change the education system. He believes everyone deserves access to higher education. Specifically, he is determined to create and provide admissions and educational training programs that reduce the barriers to access in higher education.