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6 Insider Tips for High Scores on the Medical School Casper Exam

The Casper exam is growing in popularity for admission to health programs and med school. Learn more about the test and how you can prepare for it here.

Required by many medical, dental, and BS/MD programs, the Casper exam is designed to assess what type of student and person you are beyond your résumé and transcript. It’s touted as an exam you can't study for—however, that doesn't mean you can't prepare for it. Just like when you took the SAT or ACT, having a strategy to approach this situational judgment test can improve your performance and score in the top percentile of applicants. Here’s what you need to know about this relatively new exam, its format, and how you can plan for success.  

What is the Casper exam?

Casper stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. It’s an online open-response test that assesses an individual’s ability to succeed in people-facing health and medicine careers. According to Acuity Insights, the administrator of the exam, "It asks what you would do in a tough situation and, more importantly, why." Around 50 schools currently require this test for admission, though the number is growing every year. For the 2023–2024 med school admission cycle, Acuity Insights revamped its offerings to provide colleges with a more holistic view of their applicants. Casper evaluates you on the following skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Equity
  • Ethics
  • Motivation
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Resilience
  • Self-awareness

Students applying to health and medicine programs can only take the exam once per application cycle. Because of this restriction, you'll want to be prepared by understanding how it is evaluated and how to develop strategies to approach these challenging situations.

Casper test format

Casper is split into two sections: a video response section and a typed response section. In total, it’ll take between 90–110 minutes to complete the entire exam (if you take advantage of the optional breaks).

  • Video section: Test takers are presented with six videos introducing a character, a predicament, and your role in the situation. After watching each short video, you’ll have one minute per question to respond. Students will type responses for two scenarios and record video responses for the other four in a randomized order. After this section, you’ll have an optional 10-minute break.
  • Written section: Test takers are presented with eight written scenarios and must answer three questions on each within five minutes. You’ll also be required to record video answers for five scenarios and type responses for the remaining three. These scenarios will also appear in random order.

Related: When Should I Start Planning for Med School?

6 tips to help you score higher on Casper

The Casper exam doesn’t test your medical knowledge, so it seems difficult to study for. Acuity Insights states the best way to prepare is “by familiarizing yourself with the test format and technical requirements.” Here are a few more important tips to keep in mind and other general knowledge to brush up on, including what the exam raters are looking for.

1. Consider multiple facets

As you think about possible responses to ethical questions, remember: There’s often no one "right" answer to things. Instead, the raters want to see your ability to consider multiple perspectives, show empathy, and ultimately commit to a course of action while understanding its pros and cons. You should display compassion while maintaining your ethical values. When answering each question, focus on explaining your thought process rather than getting the answer right.

2. Learn the basics of common medical ethics

Because you’re being tested on how you would respond to ethical dilemmas, you should understand what your own ethics and beliefs are before you tackle Casper. While you won't be explicitly tested on your medical knowledge or certain principles, having a good foundation can help guide your responses.

3. Use personal examples to convey empathy and respect

While you likely won't be asked specific questions about your own experiences, you might have an opportunity to discuss when you faced a similar situation. It can be helpful to create a story bank of ideas to use during the exam. A different rater evaluates each scenario, so reusing stories or examples as you see fit is okay. As you reflect on stories you can use, think about how you approached the situation and how you want to improve from it.

Related: 4 Unexpected Skills You Need to Succeed in Science Majors and Careers

4. Use "If/then" statements

Because the Casper raters want to see you considering many perspectives, using "if/then" statements can be effective in helping you parse through these hypothetical dilemmas. For example, “If this is true, then I would react this way. However, if this alternative is true, then this is how I would respond.”

5. Avoid making assumptions

What makes these ambiguous scenarios difficult is there’s often a lot of missing context. You might want to automatically fill in some of the gaps by making assumptions. It's essential to remember that with Casper, what’s unsaid is often more important than what is said. The different scenarios try to trick you into making assumptions and going down the wrong path.

6. Make a firm judgment

You’re also being tested on your ability to make a choice and stick to it. In some scenarios, you’ll face tough decisions where you’ll want to make exceptions to the rules. However, this won't make you look empathetic; it’ll just make you look like you’re unable to make difficult choices. As a future doctor, veterinarian, dentist, etc., there might be similar situations where you must act in a way that won't be well received by everyone. Casper is testing you on those skills.

Related: How Do I Get Into Medical School?

Preparing for a situational judgment exam is challenging, but it’s not impossible. By understanding the type of questions ahead of time, you can formulate a proactive strategy to improve your chances of receiving a high score. You'll also want to practice by emulating testing conditions and trying to answer the responses within the time limits. That way, you can figure out what you could say or write in each scenario realistically, helping you budget your time wisely. Good luck!

Learn even more about this exam with Moon Prep’s Guide to Casper, and find out How to Be a Competitive Med School Applicant on CollegeXpress.

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