How long does it take to prepare for CASPer? The short answer, it depends. The amount of time it takes to prepare for any part of the Altus Suite including CASPer will vary between students, there are a variety of factors to consider and unfortunately, there is no magic number that will work for everyone. In this blog, I will answer common questions about CASPer, the most effective way to prepare and of course, how much time you should set aside to prepare in order to be successful.

Disclaimer: CASPer is a claimed trademark of McMaster & Altus. BeMo does not recommend, endorse nor affiliate with CASPer, Altus or McMaster and vice versa.

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Article Contents
7 min read

1. What is CASPer? 2. What is the purpose of CASPer? 3. Should I prepare for CASPer? 4. How will preparing for CASPer help me? 5. How long does it take to prepare for CASPer?

What is CASPer?

CASPer stands for computer-based assessment for sampling personal characteristics and is an online situational judgment test – essentially it's an online version of the MMI. Situational judgment tests are a type of psychological test used to screen applicants. CASPer simulates realistic hypothetical scenarios and asks the test taker how they would respond, what they would do when faced with a certain dilemma, and why.

CASPer takes roughly 90-110 minutes to complete and has 2 optional breaks: one 10-minute break after the first section and one 5-minute break halfway through the second section. There are 14 scenarios in total broken into 2 sections. The first section is composed of 6 scenarios, 2 text-based and 4 video-based, and you will need to video record your answers. You will have 1 minute to articulate your answers for each of the 2 follow-up questions while being recorded. The second section is comprised of 8 scenarios, 3 text-based and 5 video-based, with three follow-up questions after each scenario. You will have a total of 5 minutes to type out your answers to all 3 questions.

Sounds intimidating? That's why you have to learn how to prepare for CASPer before you take the test.

Important tip: make sure to test your audio and video software before you sit the real test by taking a practice CASPer exam via your Altus Suite account.

What is the purpose of CASPer?

CASPer creators claim that it is designed to test for personal and professional characteristics including collaboration, communication, empathy, equity, ethics, problem-solving, professionalism, resilience and self-awareness. However, studies suggest that it may not be able to measure any of the claimed attributes and they have also shown that situational judgment tests can cause bias. It's often used as an intermediary step between applicants and in-person interviews so that admissions committees can assess candidate suitability for the profession before they invite applicants to an in-person interview. CASPer is used in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Refer to our blogs for a list of medical schools that require CASPer and for CASPer test dates

Should I prepare for CASPer?

You've probably heard people say that you “can't prepare for the CASPer test”, but what merit does that statement have? Can you prepare for a driving exam? Can you prepare for a presentation? Can you prepare for other standardized tests? Can you prepare for an interview? Of course, the answer to all of those questions is yes, so why would the CASPer test be any different? If you've made it to this stage of the application process, you've likely spent time preparing and perfecting your application. Your medical school personal statement and medical school secondary essays would have taken thoughtful consideration, brainstorming, editing, and revision until you felt they were ready to send. It probably wasn't something you just threw together the night before. Similarly, when you wrote any exam, did you really just “wing it” without any preparation? Most likely, you didn't, and if you did, perhaps your score reflects the lack of preparation. So when considering whether or not you should prepare for your CASPer test, consider how important it is to you to get into your dream program. After all, admissions committees are using the CASPer test as a way to determine which applicants should continue through the admission process and which should not. The bottom line is, if you want to do well on the CASPer test, you should prepare ahead of time and learn how the CASPer test is scored. Start by familiarizing yourself with some CASPer sample questions and answers to get an idea of what's expected.

Check out our video for some tips on how to prepare for and ace your CASPer test:

How will preparing for CASPer help me?

Some students underestimate the difficulty of the CASPer test. With no facts to memorize, they fail to grasp what preparation can do for them during the test. As previously mentioned, CASPer is a timed test; test-takers are only given 1 minute to respond to each question in the first portion of the test and are given 5 minutes in the second section to type answers to all three questions. During our CASPer test prep courses, our students often tell us they had no idea how much pressure and stress they would feel and how hard they found it to answer the questions within the time limit. Keep in mind that whether or not you finish answering the questions, you'll automatically be presented with the next scenario once the time runs out. There is no opportunity to go back and revisit or change answers. The best way to understand the CASPer format and timing is to go through realistic CASPer simulations. Did you know that BeMo uses the ONLY realistic CASPer simulation created by published scientists and former CASPer raters? Practicing with real-life CASPer simulations will significantly reduce your stress and anxiety levels because not only will you know what to expect, you'll be prepared.

Other than reducing stress levels, preparing for your CASPer test will also give you the skills and techniques necessary to answer different TYPES of CASPer questions that you are given. This is an essential tool because it's impossible to know exactly which questions to expect during the CASPer test. Without preparation, students presented with a scenario and its questions often have no idea what to do. Some students find themselves hopelessly watching the timer tick away. They weren't expecting a particular scenario and question and because of that, they have no idea what to write or answer. Other students know what they would do, but trying to write down or articulate something in a clear, concise, easy to understand manner, within a time limit, proves to be extremely challenging. In both of these situations, advance CASPer preparation would be beneficial.

How long does it take to prepare for CASPer?

Check out our video for the answer:

One of the most common questions we get from students is “how long does it take to prepare for CASper?” The short answer is that it depends, the long answer, as long as it takes to develop the necessary skills and behaviors. CASPer is not your traditional test, it's not a test that requires memorization, in fact, memorizing anything isn't going to help you on this test. You also can't "study" for it. Instead, CASPer is assessing behavior, such as personal and professional characteristics. Normally, these are things that develop over your entire lifetime as you interact with your environment. As your environment and experiences change over time, so will your behavior. It's important to note however, that behavior changes take time, it's not something you're going to change overnight. For example, if you're uncomfortable making eye contact with strangers, you can definitely, over time, work towards changing this so that you feel more comfortable and can hold eye contact longer, but you cannot expect to have mastered this skill, or altered this behavior in just a few days.

Similarly, if you have difficulty expressing yourself in a clear, easy to understand manner, you will need to dedicate whatever amount of time it will take to change, gain, or develop this skill. So, back to our question, in response to “how long does it take to prepare for CASPer?” students need to begin by assessing their baseline level of preparation? The baseline level of preparation refers to how developed a student's personal and professional skills are prior to doing any type of CASPer preparation. So first you need to take a practice test as soon as possible to find out how you score. If you score well, then there's no need for much preparation. If not, then you need to get to work right away until you do well on your practice tests.

In our experience, our most successful students need 6 to 8 weeks to prepare for CASPer. But we have had students who need up to 12 weeks and some who get ready in just 1 to 2 weeks. Again remember this is personalized and all of our programs are tailored to your level of preparation at baseline. More importantly, they have been proven to improve applicants' practice scores by up to 23%!

How should I best prepare for the CASPer test?

To begin, be sure to set aside the necessary amount of time to study for your CASPer test. As previously mentioned, you cannot change, remove or improve a behavior overnight, the same way you can't gain, develop or master a skill overnight. Change requires time so it's essential to give yourself enough time to work on these changes so that by the time you're ready to take the actual CASPer test, you'll feel calm, confident and prepared.

Next, you need to avoid just "being yourself." Now, you might be thinking that's an unusual thing to say, but the reason you should avoid being yourself is because being yourself is being your current self instead of your best self. Being yourself implies that you will remain the same and that you don't need to do anything or couldn't benefit from doing anything to improve yourself, learn new skills, and make changes. One person's current self may not be able to run 800 meters, but through training and preparation, their best self could run a half marathon. Remember, your best self is always changing and always evolving. Your best self yesterday may not be your best self tomorrow. Let's go back to that person who can now run a half marathon, perhaps their next goal is to run a full marathon. The opportunity for self-improvement and growth will always exist, but will you take it? If you continue to "just be yourself" you will never improve! 

Here's a quick recap on how long it takes to prepare for CASPer:

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.

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