What to Know About the Casper Test for Med School

For the 2023-2024 academic year, U.S. allopathic medical schools had more than 52,000 applicants, with fewer than half gaining acceptance and matriculating, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. With the volume of applications received, med schools have developed strategic methods to evaluate and scrutinize applicants.

[Read: What a First-Year Medical School Student Can Expect.]

One such tool is the Situational Judgment Test, or SJT, where an applicant’s personal qualities — such as empathy and critical thinking — are evaluated. The Casper is an example of an SJT required by dozens of U.S. allopathic med schools. In the last several years, the number of M.D. programs requiring this exam has increased, meaning applicants to some med schools must add this as another step in the already daunting task of applying to medical school.

Being a physician requires sound judgment, critical thinking and reasoning skills, the ability to effectively communicate and the ability to solve problems in diverse and often unexpected circumstances. Casper examines these and other baseline personal characteristics of med school applicants and is useful when admissions committees evaluate prospective students.

[READ: 5 Key Characteristics of Successful Medical School Applicants.]

Casper, which is administered by Altus Insights, is available online and can be accessed by applicants anywhere. Test-takers can participate at a location they choose if they do not want to go to a testing center.

The test cost varies but in the U.S. is $12, plus an additional $12 for each med school where scores will be sent. Casper takes 90 to 110 minutes to complete — there’s an optional 10-minute break — and consists of 14 sections, each with a scenario being either text or video based.

In addition to medical school applicants, those interested in other health education such as a physician assistant graduate program or an undergraduate nursing program may be required by a particular school to take the test. Thus, the questions are not geared specifically toward being a doctor. The scenarios present hypothetical dilemmas, and individuals are tested based on the effectiveness of their responses to specific circumstances.

The 10 competencies that are commonly assessed on Casper are:

— Ethics

— Self-awareness

— Empathy

— Collaboration

— Professionalism

— Equity

— Motivation

— Communication

— Problem solving

— Resilience

[READ: Why Resilience Is Key to Medical School Success.]

The exam website provides practice scenarios and a sample test so that individuals can gauge what to expect on the actual test. One example is: “Think of a time when you had to make a sacrifice in order to accomplish a goal.” The three questions that follow for this example scenario are:

1. Briefly describe the situation and the sacrifice you made.

2. Do you regret your decision to make the sacrifice? Why or why not?

3. Did you learn anything from this situation that can be applied to your desired career? Explain your response.

Each section is scored individually by a rater who is trained on how to evaluate the scenario, and each section is assessed by a different rater.

As the exam tests an applicant’s response to particular scenarios rather than scientific knowledge, preparation is limited. Before taking the assessment, test-takers should review the Casper to familiarize themselves with the test format, timing and technological requirements. In addition, applicants should review practice questions and practice writing out answers in the given time frame, and record themselves answering questions for the video portion.

Those who are getting ready to submit their med school applications should schedule an exam date if a desired med school requires the Casper test. Each school has a different deadline, but in general, applicants should plan on completing this test by the end of July. Exam results are sent to designated schools within two to three weeks.

Duet, another component of the two-part Altus Suite of online assessments, is a values-alignment assessment designed to help institutions determine how well their program and an applicant may match. It assesses the strengths of what an applicant wants in a medical school and professionally, and how that lines up with the school’s program. The results are objective “fit” scores across various categories.

[Read: How to Decide Where to Attend Medical School]

Duet, a series of questions that must be completed in 15 minutes, complements Casper results and helps identify the best applicants for a specific school. Since it primarily evaluates applicants’ personal and professional preferences, there’s little that can be done to prepare for it other than reviewing a school’s mission statement and understanding how it intersects with your goals and interests.

Altus recommends that Duet be taken within 14 days of Casper, although there is flexibility based on program requirements that may vary across med schools.

More from U.S. News

Anatomy of a Successful Medical School Application Resume

The Medical School Admissions Cycle: A Month-by-Month Guide

How to Use AMCAS to Apply to Medical School

What to Know About the Casper Test for Med School originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 07/03/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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