What is casper?
CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an exam first-developed by McMaster University in Canada by Dr. Harold Reiter and Dr. Kelly Dore. It is a 60-90 minute exam consisting of 12 sections, each 5 minutes long, and a 15 minute break after the sixth section. The exam proceeds with a scenario or a statement, followed by three questions. You have five minutes to type responses to these three questions. Although the exam is scored, CASPer does not send you a copy of your score. Instead, you must pay 12$ for each school you would like to send a copy of your score to.
If you are active on Reddit or SDN, you'll see that people really don't like this exam. They feel that it is a money-grab and an unnecessary burden to applicants. Personally, I feel that the test has its pros and cons: it gives admissions committees a preview of how students might perform in a MMI or traditional interview setting. In the process, it may help schools screen out individuals that might perform noticeably poorly on interview day or who are sociopaths. However, it adds yet another financial and emotional burden for students. Medicine continues to become more competitive and the application process more vigorous-- yet the physician shortage grows ever larger. Alongside stellar academics—MCAT and GPA— strong clinical experiences, leadership and volunteering, primary applications, secondary essays, and interviews, students now have an additional hurdle.
Another thing you'll see is that there are massively differing opinions on the importance of this test. In Canada, where the exam was created, the importance of CASPer ranges from 10% to 33% of the admission decision. However, due to it's relatively newness in the United States, it's significance is unclear. Some say that the exam is only used to gather research at this point; others say that a superb score may sway the decision for interview invitations. My guess— and this is only a guess— is that schools will use CASPer in two ways. First, to screen poor performing applicants out--perhaps the bottom 10% of performers. Second, the CASPer score is evaluated holistically and subjectively. A superb score will be looked upon favorably, much like a strong letter of a recommendation or a unique activity, but will not be the single deciding factor in admissions.
tips for a great performance
CASPer is an exam that you can prepare for. From my experience, I would recommend preparing for at least 1 day or 6-8 hours. I decided to spread this practice over the course of 10 days, doing about 1-2 hours each day. I do not recommend this to everyone, as some are more natural typists, more self-aware, and have more experience navigating ethical conundrums than others.
TIP #1: Have a general structure for your answers:
By having a pre-determined structure to your writing, you can save an enormous amount of time. An example: PPRDJ (Problem, Perspectives, Response, Decision, Justification)
Scenario: Imagine you are an attending physician in the Intensive Care Unit. You overhear a fellow physician, Dr. Vill as he talks on the phone. From what you can tell, he has just tested positive for COVID-19. "My health is my own concern. Besides, I am asymptomatic and I have PPE."
Question #1: What would you do?
Question #2: If you decided to confront your co-worker, what would you do if they were uncooperative?
Question #3: Recall an experience in your life where you had to make a difficult decision. How did you address this?
Example of PPRDJ response:
Problem: If Dr. Vill has tested positive for COVID-19, he may potentially infect the patients he is attempting to treat. Perspectives: I understand that Dr. Vill is asymptomatic and thus less infectious than individuals with more serious cases of COVID-19. Additionally, he is an important part of the ICU healthcare team and his departure may result in a shortage of staff. However, PPE is not always effective and Dr. Vill may cause more harm than good. Response: I would first confront Dr. Vill to understand his situation more clearly-- making sure to remain non-accusatory and objective. Decision: Although this is a complex scenario, I would likely recommend Dr. Vill to self-quarantine at home, allowing the on-call physician to take his place. Justification: This way, Dr. Vill does not infect his patients with COVID-19.
This is a seven-sentence response and takes me (a ~90-100 wpm typist) about 1 minute and 10 seconds to type NOT including thinking time. Including thinking time, this response pattern approaches 2 minutes or more. I recommend aiming for 2 minutes for your first question, which is often the longest response. This gives you 1 minute and 30 seconds for the next responses.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.