In 2010, McMaster University, the Canadian university that created the MMI (multiple mini interview) format, implemented a new test called CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics). This situational judgment test (SJT) assesses core competencies related to social intelligence and professionalism, including collaboration, problem solving, empathy, and ethics.
As of this date, nearly 600 programs worldwide include CASPer in their admissions process, making it the most widely used, open-response SJT in higher education. To find out whether or not your program requires CASPer, please visit the Acuity Insights website. First select the country where your target school is located, then the type of program you’re applying to, and you’ll find the schools, dates, and times available to book your test.
More about CASPer
It takes approximately 90 minutes to complete the test, which can be taken anywhere, as long as you have a computer and an internet connection. However, you must book the test ahead of time because it is proctored.
The test includes a series of video- and text-based scenarios, and applicants are asked open-ended questions about each scenario presented. Webcams and microphones are strictly required for the CASPer test because they are used to confirm the applicant’s identity and are required for the video response portion and for proctoring the test. Your webcam must be turned on, uncovered, and facing toward you throughout the entire test.
Students have an allotted amount of time in which to answer each question; however, spelling and grammar are not assessed. CASPer now includes both written and video responses.
Tips for taking CASPer
Months before taking the test
Here are three tips you should act on months in advance of taking the CASPer test.
- Write every day.
When I start working with clients, I challenge them to start writing every day by keeping a journal. Set a goal of writing three entries a week and then steadily increase the amount you write. In preparation for CASPer, keep an electronic journal. If you are especially concerned about the speed at which you type, you can play typing games or time yourself regularly to increase your speed.
- Work with a professional editor/consultant or tutor one-on-one.
The benefits of working with someone like me or one of my colleagues at Accepted include the fact that you will have a “personal writing coach.” I work closely with my clients in assisting them with making outlines and editing drafts. I help them identify specific weaknesses so they can improve their skills. With each draft, their writing gets better and better. Over time, they build the confidence and the skills to skip steps to produce a more polished essay with less effort.
- Take the practice test.
Acuity Insights offers a free practice test on its website, and we (and Acuity) highly recommend that students review the materials on the organization’s Test Prep Page. There, you’ll find general tech tips, a practice test, and an introduction to the test format.
Weeks before taking CASPer
As you approach the day of the exam, you’re going to want to increase your practicing power. My main piece of advice here is this:
- Find practice problems, and time yourself.
If you know that you struggle with writing under pressure, simulate the test conditions and time yourself with practice problems. The test questions are similar to MMI interview questions. The schools want to see how you think under pressure and how well you can problem solve. Demonstrate your thinking process in explaining each step you would take, depending on the situation you are presented with. Don’t leave anything out. No detail is too insignificant. Cover all your bases by being thorough and methodical.
For more assistance, check out Accepted’s one-on-one Medical School Admissions Consulting and Advising Services. Your consultant can assess a sample of your writing to inform you of your weaknesses and provide guidance on how to address and overcome those weaknesses when taking the CASPer.
• The Importance of Teaching Leadership and Management in Med School, a podcast episode
• Teamwork in Medical School Admissions: How to Show You’ve Got It
• 7 Traits of a Competitive Medical School Applicant