One of the best CASPer test prep strategies is reviewing sample CASPer questions and answers. This blog will go over 5 official CASPer sample questions and provide our expert response and analysis.
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You are an employee at a retail store and you overhear an interaction between a customer and another employee at the cash register. The customer is here to return an item; however, she does not have a receipt for the purchased item and claims to have paid in cash. Despite assurances by the customer that she did buy the item at your store, your colleague informs the customer that, while she can provide store credit or an exchange, store policy does not allow refunds of more than $20 without a receipt. The customer informs your colleague that she really needs a refund given that this was a birthday purchase for her daughter, but now she desperately requires that money to buy her daughter’s prescription medication. While the manager can override the store policy, she is away until next week. Your colleague turns to you for advice given that you have been working at the store for longer than she has.
1. What do you tell the other employee – go ahead and give the refund, or abide by store policy? Justify your answer.
As a fellow employee of the store, the pressing issue is that of an ethical dilemma. I would like to help the customer as best as I can without compromising store policy. Before I make a decision on the matter, I would first like to gather more information. As I take this step, I would verbalize my appreciation of the customer’s patience and speak with her in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner, demonstrating understanding of the difficult situation she is in by actively listening to her and acknowledging her concerns. If there are other customers around, I would take this conversation to a private space to avoid embarrassing the customer or making her feel uncomfortable. I would like to know when this customer bought the item and confirm that she did buy it from this store location. It’s possible that this customer bought this item a few months or even years ago and, as such, it would not be eligible for a refund. Additionally, I would like to consult the store policy to ensure that there are strict rules with regards to refunding of items without a receipt. There might be a clause where store employees may return items without a receipt for a full refund at their discretion. I am aware that my manager is away, but I can always call a different branch of the store which might have a store manager available to provide guidance, or – if possible – I could call our store’s manager to see if I could get approval to process the return. Based on the information I have gathered, if the customer did indeed buy the item from our location and I am able to refund them in cash, based on a discretionary rule or leeway in store policy, I would not hesitate to complete the refund. If I am unable to provide a refund, I would apologize profusely; however, I would try to assist this customer as best as I can. To try to help with the current dilemma, I would encourage her to seek medical help at the emergency department if the prescription required is for a life-threatening condition. Additionally, I would encourage her to speak with her pharmacist, as they may accommodate a payment plan for prescriptions, or they may have a generic form of the medication that costs significantly less. For the future, I would encourage her to contact her family physician and make an appointment, given that they might be able to access social support programs for prescriptions if she is having financial difficulties and has no health insurance to cover the prescriptions. As well, in mentioning her financial difficulties to her family physician, she may find that the doctor can prescribe similar medications that are less pricey than the current prescription for her daughter. The doctor may even have some samples of the medication in question, which can be given out at no cost
2. Assume you advise the newer employee not to give the refund, but she does anyway. Do you report this to your supervisor? Why or why not?
It would depend on the store policy, since upholding such policy is my duty as an employee. If there was a discretionary rule whereby an employee can provide the refund, given that they have justification for doing so, then I would not report her. I would instead encourage her to document the event so that she can submit a report to management. If it was clearly against the rules, and my advice was in line with store policy and procedures, then I would give her the opportunity to do the right thing and report her actions to the manager. I would gently remind her of her ethical responsibility and her responsibility as an employee, as a way of encouraging her to uphold such standards. I would follow up with her and, if she has not reported the incident, then I would report to the manager without hesitation.
3. If you were asked to establish a policy around refunds for a new store, what aspects would you take into consideration?
With regard to setting a refund policy, my goal would be to provide the best shopping experience to customers without compromising the store from a business perspective. Prior to establishing a new policy, I would love to hear from our customers to learn what they would like to see in a return policy; I would solicit such information in the form of a survey, to determine what seems fair and appropriate from their perspective. I would also send the survey to employees and upper management to get their input. Additionally, I would look into refund policies at other stores, to see how a proper balance between customer and business needs is met. My priority would be making the return policy transparent, uncomplicated, and in the best interest of the shopper. With regard to transparency, I would clearly outline the return policy on the store’s website and place a copy by the store’s cashier. I would have training sessions so that employees can learn and disclose our policies at the point of purchase. With regard to ensuring the policy is uncomplicated, I would construct a policy that is simple, universal, and that does not include a lot of rules. Ideally, I would limit the policy to 4-5 rules that protect both the customer and our store. Additionally, I would provide an electronic as well as a printed receipt to customers, so they can access their receipt from anywhere; that way, that the issue presented in the scenario would be much less likely to arise again in the future. With the customer’s consent, I would also establish an in-house database, where items purchased by a customer can be looked up on our system; this would be a service provided to the customer and they would have to enroll, given laws around privacy and maintaining their personal information in our database. Finally, with regard to having the policy lean more in favor of the consumer, I would have a “no questions asked” policy if they are returning one of our products.
Analysis: Why are these strong answers?
There are a number of consistent features in these responses (which you will also see in the other expert answers, below). First, none of the responses accept the prompt as the full or final say on the matter; rather, they demonstrate an understanding that the information provided may be partial, or even incorrect. Showing a bit of skepticism toward the prompt ensures you don’t act prematurely or based only on assumptions, which is a hallmark of critical thinking. Most problems are more complex than they may seem on the surface; suggesting that additional information-gathering is likely required will highlight your ability to question assumptions, to be mature in your reflection on the issues, and to seek out additional perspectives, resources, or sources of knowledge. These answers propose various avenues for gathering such information, support, or confirmation of protocol, pointing to your willingness to seek guidance from, or collaborate with, those with more experience than you may have. Additionally, thinking through the consequences of pursuing such avenues shows your ability to speculate on multiple potential outcomes, demonstrating your ability to envision the repercussions of various actions based on the information you collect in your investigation.
These answers acknowledge that there are multiple concerns and parties that must be considered and balanced; both the store’s policy and the customer’s needs are taken into consideration. Establishing this balance indicates your inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, and ability to hold multiple priorities and give each its due consideration. Note that the responses also go beyond merely telling the reader what will be done, by using demonstrative prose to show the reader how such actions will be taken (describing appreciation for the customer’s patience, speaking in a “non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner”, sympathizing with the customer’s dilemma, etc.). Making notes on your demeanor, gestures, and tone, specifying that you will have sensitive conversations in private, and explaining your active listening techniques all give your reader (and, thus, your evaluator) a more complete picture of how you carry yourself and how you interact with others. As many scenarios contain personal, ethical, or otherwise sensitive issues, you want to ensure the evaluator has the clearest image possible of you fulfilling your role. They can’t make assumptions about your communication skills or how you carry yourself, so it is up to you to demonstrate such things in your prose.
Finally, the responses indicate a later follow-up to ensure the situation is truly resolved and/or to ensure the same issue doesn’t arise again in the future. This shows that you understand the complexity of the issues and acknowledge that lasting change requires vigilance – we cannot simply walk away and assume everything will be fine at the end of the scenario.
Together, these elements demonstrate the exact kinds of qualities sought by professional programs and schools of all sorts, regardless of whether you’re going into medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary medicine, or any other program that requires you to complete a CASPer test. These programs are all seeking candidates that are mature professionals who can communicate clearly, stand by their ethical convictions, and uphold the mission, vision, and values of the school in question. In short, they want to see if you are a “good fit” for their program, which isn’t something easily determined by simply reviewing your GPA, standardized test scores, or CV/résumé.
Here are four more CASPer scenarios with expert answers. See if you can identify the qualities discussed above as you review these. Additional sample scenarios and questions for you to practice follow these responses. If you're wondering "how long does it take to prepare for CASPer?" Check out our blog for the answer.
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Want more tips before review more sample questions? Watch this video first, then scroll down for more sample questions and answers
You are a member of a study group and you observe members of your group having a heated conversation. Mike and John are confronting Sarah about her inconsistent contribution to the study group. Mike and John are upset that Sarah did not contribute to the study session today and accuse her of not being prepared. Sarah defends herself by saying that she has been busy writing an important paper. Mike and John inform her that they also had the same paper due and, despite that, were able to show up prepared for the session. They then accuse her of regularly coming to tutorials unprepared, suggesting that she’s only learning from the information that they have provided during the study sessions. Sarah informs them that she has been under a lot of stress and that they are not being fair to her. She prepares to leave due to their “negativity”.
Questions to the Applicant:
1. You are a member of the study group and have not participated in the interaction so far, but now the group is looking to you. How would you diffuse this situation?
This is a difficult situation to be placed in, and one that requires some conflict resolution as well as a non-judgmental approach toward all my colleagues. As a member of the group, my primary concern is diffusing the tension while maintaining collegiality within the group and moving toward successful completion of our coursework. There is a clear difference in perspectives and its important to mediate the conversation. The most important first step is to actively listen to both sides to promote understanding, so I would ask probing questions to understand why the different parties feel the way they do, and to more fully understand everyone’s perspectives and priorities. For everyone to be able to voice their concerns, they must feel that they are in a safe, fair, and accepting space. I would validate Mike and John’s feelings with regards to their frustrations about feeling that Sarah doesn’t come prepared; but I would also validate Sarah’s feelings around being occupied with other material. Sarah has also indicated that she has been under a lot of stress, so I would speak privately with her, in order to determine whether she was dealing with a personal matter or emergency. I would help her identify any barriers which may be impeding her ability to prepare for these sessions. Based on the information provided, I would refer her to campus resources for support, if appropriate (e.g., academic counsellor, mental wellness office, accessibility services, etc.). After speaking with all parties, I would help reset group expectations by reaffirming our goals, expectations, and roles within the group, while also fostering a collegial environment by demonstrating respect and understanding. After everyone’s expectations are established, I would follow up with my colleagues at our next study session to ensure we are all on track. As well, I would again speak with Sarah privately to check in on her overall wellbeing.
2. Do you agree with the two students who are upset with Sarah? Why or why not?
As mentioned above, I can understand where the two male students’ frustrations are stemming from. Their feelings need to be validated, but, as stated above, both the perspectives of Sarah and the male students needs to be explored and shared with each other. Once that is done, common ground needs to be established regarding expectations. If Sarah has indeed not been preparing for the sessions, and this was not due to extenuating circumstances, then I would agree with the two male students’ feelings, because, as a member of the group, everyone needs to contribute equally. However, it is important to obtain Sarah’s perspective and to help her overcome barriers which are hindering her contribution. While I understand the other students’ frustrations, they may be upset over something completely out of Sarah’s control.
3. What suggestions can you make to help the group function better going forward?
As mentioned above, airing of grievances is important followed by establishing clear expectations. Allowing all parties to air grievances, and making space for other members to defend themselves, gives everyone an equal opportunity to share their perspective. Setting expectations allows everyone to be aware of minimum requirements to be part of the group. Such expectations can be determined collectively, with everyone offering input on their perceived “best practices” for group membership. Finally, for the betterment of the group’s experience, exploring barriers which are hindering group members from participating is in everyone’s favor and should be pursued as a group. Once barriers are identified, then strategies to overcome these barriers can be implemented, allowing all group members to be contributing members. If at any time I felt as though professional support or advice would be beneficial to this process, I would reach out to our professor, TA, or other authority, to see what advice they might have for ensuring group cohesion.
You are sitting in on a conversation between Tom and Jessie, two of your co-workers at an energy firm. Tom informs Jessie that he is having a tough time with a personal decision: he and his wife are expecting a child, and his wife would like him to take paternity leave with her. He tells Jessie that the company is taking on a new project that he would lead and doing well on this project could significantly advance his career. Despite his excitement for parenthood, he is struggling between spending time with his family in the short-term vs. focusing on his career, which would ultimately benefit his family in the long-term. He feels that if he misses this work opportunity, he will not get a similar chance for a few years. Additionally, claiming that the industry is largely “male-dominated,” he feels that his boss would not be understanding if he requested paternity leave; he even recalls a time in the past when a male colleague who took paternity leave was penalized by being kept in the same position for years upon his return to work. Jessie turns to you and asks, “What do you think he should do?”
Questions to the Applicant:
1. Would you recommend he take paternity leave? Why or why not?
This is a challenging and sensitive situation, wherein Tom feels like he must choose between his career and spending time with his partner and newborn child. Prior to making a decision, I would need to gather more information. First, I would like to know the company’s policy with regard to paternity leave, so I would consult Human Resources (HR) and I would encourage Tom to speak with both HR and his boss to understand their perspective on paternity leave. I would also have a private and non-judgmental conversation with Tom, to discuss his priorities. Does he prioritize spending time with his family or does he prioritize his career in terms of a speedy trajectory to promotion? This information would inform my advice. If he feels strongly about spending time with his partner and newborn, given that this is a special time that only happens once, I would encourage him to spend time with his family. If he feels that prioritizing his career for the best interest of providing for his family and that sacrificing spending time with his wife and newborn is acceptable, then I would support his decision. Ultimately, the one with the most insight would be Tom and I would help guide his decision. Information collected about the company would help inform Tom of the potential consequences of taking paternity leave based on whether the company is supportive or unsupportive of paternity leave. This will also help inform his decision. That said, I would encourage Tom not to rely on hearsay regarding his other colleague’s supposed punishment for taking paternity leave, as there are any number of reasons why he may have been kept in his position – we simply don’t have (and may not be able to access) all the facts around that event.
2. What strategies could you offer to help him make a decision that he feels comfortable with?
As stated above, I would encourage him to gather concrete information about the company and their policy and culture around paternity leave. He would be able to do this by speaking with human resources, with his boss, and with colleagues who have taken (or given up) paternity leave. This will help inform his decision with regards to impact on his job projection and promotion. Once this information is collected, I would brainstorm with Tom around his current priorities and what sacrifices he is willing to make to fulfill his goals. The decision would be whether to take paternity leave to prioritize spending time with his wife and newborn while potentially delaying career progression vs. not taking paternity leave sacrificing spending time with his wife and newborn for career progression, which would provide financial security for his family in the long-term. This is a personal decision, and I would support Tom by making sure he collects all the necessary information required to make this decision.
3. Maintaining work-life balance can be challenging. Why do you think people struggle to find balance?
There are many demands on our time and we often struggle to maintain an acceptable work-life balance. Work-life balance is often defined as time allocated to one’s career vs. time allocated to other personal aspects of one’s life, such as family, recreation, and self-care. The assumption is that work requires energy expenditure and life activities recharge one’s energy. There are many reasons why individuals struggle with maintaining an acceptable work-life balance, including having a demanding job, poor time management or scheduling skills, unrealistic expectations by employers, and financial pressures. One unique challenge of the present era is also the expectation that employees are effectively “on call” at all hours; with email, text, and social media communication, employees rarely “clock out” at 5pm and leave work until the following day. It is important for individuals to identify the specific reasons behind their personal situation and try to have a more balanced approach to life. As well, employers bear some responsibility here, and should be mindful of the time demands they place on employees. Overall, it is important to recognize that a poor work-life balance can often have negative effects on individuals and can impact their work performance and their overall health, so a good work-life balance is in the best interest of everyone involved.
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You are sitting in a meeting with Frank and Julia, two of your co-workers at a financial firm. Frank wants to talk about a member of his team, Jason, with regards to some concerning behavior of late. Frank is concerned that Jason has been showing up late to work and has been seen dozing off during meetings. Despite this behavior, the team’s overall performance has been very positive. Julia weighs in on the conversation, saying that our company encourages flexible working conditions, where employees can maintain their own schedules as long as they maintain good performance with positive reviews. Frank further elaborates that Jason has been acting a little distant of late and avoiding any personal questions about his family; he’s worried that this behavior could be a sign of something more serious. While Julia seems concerned by this disclosure, she informs Frank that, as long as Jason has not shared any specific struggles with Frank, it would be a transgression of boundaries to approach Jason about personal matters.
Questions to the Applicant:
1. What advice would you give to Frank about his team member, Jason?
Based on the information provided, I would be concerned about the well-being of my co-worker’s team member. I would inform him that it sounds that his team member might be experiencing personal problems, which may be impacting his behavior and potentially his mental health. It may also be that Jason’s job satisfaction has declined recently, leading him to distance himself somewhat from his work and co-workers. However, I would caution against making assumptions and encourage Frank to speak with Jason in a private and non-judgmental manner, creating a safe space for confidential disclosures of potentially personal matters. I would suggest that he share his concerns with Jason and give him an opportunity to share any personal struggles with him, if he is comfortable doing so. There could be alternative explanations to his recent behavior, such as a new and/or untreated medical condition, in conjunction with trying to maintain a semblance of privacy. However, given that mental health deterioration related to personal stressors (including physical health, personal struggles, poor work-life balance, etc.) could lead to catastrophic results, it’s important to reach out to Jason as a concerned member of the same team. If his team member is experiencing personal problems at home, Frank can offer him support and refer him to counseling. Additionally, Jason may benefit from some time off work, regardless of the reason for his recent behavior. In any case, it is important to address the issue for Jason’s sake, in the interest of his own well-being, and to help him see that he is supported by his team.
2. Do you agree that taking any additional action in this situation would be considered “overstepping boundaries”? Why or why not?
In this scenario, it would depend on intent and approach. If the intent of probing for more information is mere curiosity, it would be considered “overstepping boundaries”. However, if the intent of probing for more information is to ensure the safety and well-being of the team member, then no, I would not consider this “overstepping boundaries”. Additionally, the setting and method of approach needs to be sensitive to the privacy and comfort of the team member. This conversation should take place in a private setting and be confidentiality maintained – and this should be clearly communicated to Jason, so that he feels safe making any disclosures. While the lines of such boundaries can be complex, when a team member’s mental or physical health or well-being may be at stake, a careful and sensitive approach is better than disinterest or apathy.
3. Imagine you heard rumors that Jason was being bullied at work, would this change your reaction to the situation? Explain your response.
It would not change my approach to the situation. I would start by gathering more information, since I cannot act on rumors. In order to do that, I would meet directly with Jason in a private setting and speak with him in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner. I would also inform him that all information discussed would be confidential and demonstrate my investment in his well-being through active listening and a compassionate approach. While it is important to address any behavior that creates a negative work environment, my ultimate concern would be Jason’s well-being. As such, in our initial meeting, I would focus on this, and – if necessary – follow up with a full investigation into the bullying allegations.
Succeeding on the CASPer test means understanding the types of questions they ask. Learn more about Situational, Policy, and Personal question types in this video:
You are a member of a study group and you observe two members of your group, John and Steve, having a heated conversation. John looks stressed and is upset that the group project is not yet close to being complete, despite being due at the end of the week. When Steve asks John what is stressing him out, he says he is overwhelmed by the amount of work which was redistributed to group members when Marshal, another group member, had to leave the group due to a medical condition. While Marshal’s medical condition is severe and required hospitalization, John is upset that Marshal knew how important this project is to everyone’s grades and thinks it’s unfair for the other members of the group to have to take on the work Marshal was supposed to complete. To make matters worse, Steve discovers a recently posted picture on Marshal’s Facebook page showing him at a pool party, which further angers John. With the current arrangement, the work submitted by the group would award Marshal the same grade as the others, despite not completing the same amount of work. John suggests Marshal has been dishonest about his medical condition to get out of work, while Steve reminds John that this picture could have been taken a while back. Steve turns to you and asks you to decide how to proceed from here.
Questions to the Applicant:
1. What do you recommend to your group members?
This is a moral and ethical dilemma. While it may appear that Marshal has been using his medical condition to try and get out of work, it is important to take a step back and not jump to any conclusions. At this stage, I would like to know whether the photo posted on Facebook is a new or old photo; in order to do that, I would try to contact Marshal. Ideally, I would like to speak with him in a private, non-confrontational, and non-judgmental manner. If this is an old photo from when he was feeling better, then all is resolved. However, if it comes to light that this is a new photo, then I would ask him if he feels that his health has improved to the point where he can come back to the group to contribute. Just because he was able to attend one party, that does not necessarily mean that he is well enough to come back to school. Perhaps he has been discharged from hospital but is still recovering and went to the party to try to remain social to help with his mental health and general well-being. If Marshal has been dishonest about his medical state, I would first encourage him to try to make up for this by returning to the group and completing the work that had been assigned to him. If he refuses to do so, then I would not hesitate to report the situation to the course professor. Additionally, regardless of Marshal’s situation, I would suggest that the group seek an extension from the professor, given the abrupt loss of a group member and the necessary re-distribution of workload.
2. Do you think it is okay to report a concern to a supervisor based on a suspicion? Why or why not?
I think that, prior to reporting a concern, it would be my responsibility to investigate the legitimacy of the claim to the best of my abilities. If I find evidence to support that concern, then I would report that concern to a supervisor. Ultimately, the supervisor would use the provided evidence to further investigate the concern and approach the claim in an unbiased manner. Often, supervisors have more resources available to them to fully investigate such matters and to come to a rational and unbiased conclusion.
3. Do you believe that one false or inappropriate post on social media can have a lasting effect on someone’s career? Explain your response.
I do believe that one false or inappropriate post can have a detrimental effect on someone’s career. A recent example involves Kevin Hart, a well-known comedian. He was scheduled to host the 2018 Oscars, when a series of old homophobic tweets re-surfaced from 2010. As a result, he decided to step down from hosting the Oscars, which would have been a great addition to an otherwise distinguished career. Posts on social media usually reflect our beliefs and, as such, are used to determine the moral caliber of a person. In this case, the posts were from 8 years ago, but expressing discriminatory views at any time can negatively impact someone. While I understand that individuals do change and grow with time, in this case, the burden of proof would be placed on Kevin Hart to show that he has changed – through his actions and specific views – before he is allowed to host any prestigious and public events again.
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You are the captain of your high school basketball team.
You are the captain of your high school basketball team. Your team has been preparing all season for regional championships, which are now one week away. You get a call from your mother, in distress, saying that her sister has died unexpectedly. This sister - your aunt - has not been close to the rest of the family and you barely know her. The funeral is on the same day as your regional championships, and the events are four hours apart by car and you do not have a driver's license.
Sample CASPer Questions:
1. Do you attend the funeral or the basketball game? Why?
2. Describe a time when you had to make a similarly challenging decision.
3. What is your strategy for managing conflicting demands in your life? How did you develop this strategy?
Sample CASPer Scenario #7
You are the company co-founder.
Your best friend has recently approached you to join his new test preparation company. He tells you, "This is going to be super easy, because there are a lot of other companies out there that we could model. We should simply find the most successful company and do what they do best." You agree to join him as a co-founder.
Sample CASPer Questions:
1. As you get involved, you notice that your friend is practically copying material from competitors and claiming the material as his own to speed up the growth of his business. How would you approach your friend about this?
2. Would you report a close friend or family member to superiors if you became aware of them acting unethically and/or illegally? Why or why not?
3. What are the implications of a practicing professional, such as a medical doctor, a nurse, or a pharmacist, acting unprofessionally, within or outside of his/her professional role?
Sample CASPer Scenario #8
Consider the following quote: "To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." - Aristotle
Sample CASPer Questions:
1. Describe what this quote means to you.
2. How is this quote important and relevant to your role as a future practicing professional?
3. Describe a time when you openly criticized a superior or an authority figure. What were the results of your actions?
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About the Author:
Dr. Lauren Prufer is an admissions expert at BeMo. Dr. Prufer is also a medical resident at McMaster University. Her medical degree is from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. During her time in medical school, she developed a passion for sharing her knowledge with others through medical writing, research and peer mentoring.
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Disclaimer: Please note that the first 5 questions are our interpretations of the video scenarios posted on the test administrator's website and can be viewed at takecasper.com. The remaining questions are created by BeMo. Each respective source is the copyright owner and the material is shared here under the fair use clause of Copyright Act. BeMo doesn't affiliate or endorse CASPer, McMaster or Altus. To take the test, contact the administrators directly.