Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) Tips

CASPer assesses non-academic attributes for professional programs

The Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) is an online-based admissions test pioneered at McMaster University. It has been widely adopted to assess applicants for admission to many medical, nursing, and other professional programs. CASPer evaluates an applicant for their non-academic attributes using its situational judgement test (SJT). During SJT, an applicant is presented with hypothetical scenarios and asked to share their responses with logical explanations. The applicant’s responses and explanations are evaluated for multiple criteria, including the ability to identify the main issue, maintain an objective approach, consistent diplomacy, and various soft skills. Specific soft skills include communication, professionalism, problem solving, and ethical decision-making skills. Research has demonstrated that CASPer may consistently predict the relative success of the applicant in their professional school of choice, thus CASPer has become an important evaluation as a part of many professional schools’ application requirement.

The CASPer test is composed of twelve 5-minute stations with three questions in each station. In addition to questions associated with a hypothetical scenario, there may also be more “conventional” questions regarding personal experiences or beliefs. Once the time limit is up, the answers will be saved automatically, and the next question will be on display. Halfway through the CASPer test, the applicant will be given an optional rest station of 15 minutes. It is important to note that the evaluators are trained to ignore spelling and grammar mistakes to the best of their abilities.

Prior to your CASPer test, there are 5 important things to practice for, read about, and seek help for.

1. Type fast, think fast

Practice time sensitive typing exercises to enhance your efficiency in transforming ideas from your head into words on the computer screen. The faster you type and/or think, the more information you can share with the evaluators. 5 minutes to think and respond to three questions is a very limited time aimed to view your most immediate reaction to the scenario. 

2. Become familiar with Principles of Bioethics

The principles of bioethics are four commonly accepted principles for healthcare ethics, which includes respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. For medical practices to be considered ethical, all four principles must be considered and respected. 

3. Many scenarios will be non-medical situations 

Most cases will be everyday situations where majority of the applicants will be able to relate to. The purpose of these non-medical cases is to enable a fair evaluation of an applicant’s merits regardless of their knowledgeability in healthcare.

4. Always explain your reasoning and/or perspectives

While it is important to share authentic and/or logical responses, it is equally important to justify the how your decisions were made. Your explanations will be evidence for your thought process, and an opportunity for you to display your values.

5. Practice and get feedback

The more scenarios you have seen prior to the test, the more comfortable and faster you will be able to adapt to a similar scenario. It is important to note that practicing alone will not enhance your ability to understand and/or react to ethical questions. Getting feedback from your peers or advisor(s) who are skilled in handling ethical scenarios will accelerate your learning.

On the day of your CASPer test, there are 4 important things to remember

1. Logging in

Your test page will be available upon logging in. There will be a countdown timer until the official time of the test. Upon counting down to zero, a green “start” button will be available for 15 minutes to initiate your test. Should you miss this 15 minute window, you may reschedule for another test if there are still spots available.

2. Webcam

Your video camera must be on and uncovered throughout the entire test. The purpose of this is to identify and verify the applicant who is answering the question for the test duration.

3. Stable environment

Find a place with stable WiFi and a comfortable level of noise, so you may consistently deliver your answers without interruptions. It is important to note that CASPer only works on Firefox and Chrome, so update all necessary software and block all unnecessary plugins the night before, ie Grammarly, etc.

4. Optional 15-minute break

You will have a 15-minute break at the half way point of your test. It is recommended that you go to the bathroom, grab a healthy snack, and/or relax your mind and muscles. Should you like to resume the test prior to 15 minutes is up, there will be a “next” button to do so. 

After your CASPer test, there are 2 things to take note on

1. Scoring

Each scenario of your test is graded by different evaluators, and thus ensures a fair balance of scrutiny across different test takers. 

2. Final Grades

Grades will not be shared with the applicant. It will be electronically shared with the professional program of choice automatically. The applicant will not receive any feedback from the CASPer evalutors and/or professional teams. If you choose to apply for accommodations (i.e. for learning disabilities), this information will not be shared with your professional schools.

Take our full mock CASPer exam and test yourself before the real deal! Our packages provide one-on-one feedback regarding your answers with a medical student consultant who has successfully completed CASPer.