It was just a regular Friday in the Department of Prosthodontics and I was working on finishing my temporary denture for a patient I had scheduled for the coming Monday. Thinking it was a Saturday I was working faster than usual. I was almost done for the day when it struck me….the next day was a working day as well! Thus began the mental process of convincing myself to take the next day off (which I eventually did) since I would have nothing to work on the following day.
The long weekend was spent mostly sleeping and largely being otherwise unproductive. Guilt ensued on Monday, an inner voice saying, “You missed out man” followed by my colleague telling me how on that very fateful Saturday, he observed one of the most unique cases of post-COVID mucormycosis. After my roast, which lasted for longer than I would have liked, I pondered thoroughly on how much I overlooked when I was considering bunking college for that day, and the reasons started to trickle in. I could have assisted my seniors, I could have observed interesting cases, I could have helped out my juniors and even my co-interns but I chose to shut my mind out from logical reasoning.
As a professional, you are bound to encounter situations where you need to examine, assess, and finally decide on your course of action. The long anecdote was just an inadequate example of coming to conclusions without considering all the possibilities, or rather opportunities.
Dental programs in the USA are always overwhelmed with the candidate inflow every year. Therefore, admission committees in certain programs take assistance through peripheral assessment tools to get/judge applicants. One such test to gauge people skills and to get a holistic perspective of the candidate’s persona is the CASPer test.
What’s the Casper test & Its Importance?
Casper is the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. It is a test that some dental programs require as an obligation to select candidates who they find compassionate, ethical, empathetic, motivated, resilient, and with decent overall interpersonal skills to suit their program needs. It serves as a valuable indicator for selectors as to who they would prefer to interview since this assessment, along with other traditional and obligatory scoring criteria like the GPA, the INBDE (the INBDE is a pass/fail exam), the TOEFL, the Statement of Purpose, Letter of recommendation, clinical experience, etc. gives a more holistic perspective of the candidate to the selector. It tells them more about the backstage human skills responsible for the numbers and the scores.
CASPer Test Rules
The exam is an open-response situational judgment test. The test is an amalgamation of 12 scenario-based sections, of which 8 are video-based scenarios, and 4 are written scenarios. The order of the presentation is random and jumbled. Each scenario, after being played or displayed in written format in front of your screen, will be followed by a 30-second reflection period, after which you will be shown three open-ended questions. The candidates are given five minutes to type in suitable responses for all three questions. Once submitted, a candidate cannot go back to edit or delete their original responses or play the video again. A candidate should not fret too much about grammatical errors in their response as the test raters judge responses based on content. The entire test can last for 60-90 mins, with an optional 10-minute break given halfway through the test. The response to each scenario is rated by a different human rater who is a diverse group of people. Once a test has been rated it is sent automatically to the programs selected by the candidate.
As of April 2023, the Casper test is a mandatory requirement for admission to a few universities, including Indiana University, the University of California San Francisco, Temple University, California Northstate University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Louisville, and the University of Utah. However, some universities, such as Boston University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, offer the Casper test as an optional requirement for admission.
The Casper test is conducted by the Altus Group. The test can be booked through the TakeAltus website. The fee for the test is $25.
The test can be taken anywhere. All you need is a personal computer or laptop with a working webcam, microphone, and good internet connection. The test is supported only on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Casper recommends registering for the exam three days prior to taking the test for the completion of verification. The Casper scores are valid for one admission cycle.
Preparing for this test beforehand is recommended to familiarise yourself with the format and type of questions. You can prepare for the Casper test using the Casper test prep by BeMo. You can also have a look through sample scenarios from the Altus website.
Tip: Plan to book the test as soon as you submit your application to any of the aforementioned schools, as you might struggle to find dates later.
Casper offers a chance to get foreign-trained dentists more accustomed to American workspace ethics and scenarios and also helps the candidate to acknowledge and conquer biases and prejudice that he/she might have previously harbored. Thus, it is a learning process that benefits you twofold, first being the fact that it boosts your CV, and secondly, it also helps you handle situations with a better perspective in your professional life. It is a test that has proved to be reliable in assessing candidates and over the coming years might be an obligatory requirement in many more schools.
Here are some sample questions to get you up to speed with this test
CASPer Test Examples
You are a customer. You are shopping at the pharmacy and see a young mother with her baby steal the formula and walk out of the store. She seems well-dressed and healthy. It doesn’t seem like anyone else in the store noticed this happening.
- What do you do?
- What are the ethical, legal, and psychological implications of your decision?
- Would your answer change if you were told this was the only time the mother did this?
You are a university student and you haven’t seen one of your closest friends, who also happens to be in many of your classes, all week. This is unusual for them. You attempt to call them, but they don’t answer your calls. Their roommate bumps into you in the hallway and mentions that your friend hasn’t been looking so good lately.
- How do you handle the situation?
- What factors do you consider in deciding whether or not to show up at your friend’s dorm room?
- How do you decide if/when to involve the help of other individuals (professionals, parents, etc.) in this situation?
CASPer test day tips:
- Perform a ‘Systems Requirements’ check twice before the exam
- Though the test taker’s outfit isn’t considered while scoring a video response, adhere to semi-formal attire and avoid pajamas
- Have a writing pad with scribble paper and a couple of pens by your side to make notes. This will be of use when noting down the names of the stakeholders and their roles in the scenario.
- Use the scheduled breaks to hydrate yourself.
- Ensure that the test is taken in the same environment in which you performed your ‘Systems Requirements’ check.
- For video responses:
- Note the keywords for the areas you want to cover in your response during the reflection period.
- Look at the camera while articulating your responses
- Avoid lexical fillers as much as possible to make time for a detailed response.
- If you find it difficult to find a response, think out loud regarding the key problems in the scenario. The solution usually follows seamlessly.
- For written responses:
- Skim through all the questions and begin with one that you are most familiar or comfortable with
- Try answering at least two questions among the three in case of time constraint.
- While online preparatory resources provide detailed responses(on the impact of the issue on every stakeholder involved) which are difficult to craft, let alone type within the stipulated time period, you can provide succinct responses in the event of time constraint.
- Use the entire time period given to craft your response
- While spelling errors do not impact your score negatively, be mindful that the error must not affect the readability or comprehension of the word and therefore the sentence itself.
Preparation tips :
Resources I used:
- BeMo YouTube channel
- MedBoys YouTube channel
- The Successful Match- Blogs on CASPer
- BeMo’s Ultimate Guide to CASPer test prep
- CASPer test Prep Guide by Dr. Rajani Khatta
- Doing Right
- Official CASPer practice tests
Third party companies offering preparatory packages and practice tests
- Astroff Consultants
- Shemassian consulting
Updated test pattern and cost (2023-2024)
- 14 questions
- 6 Video response scenarios
- 8 Written response scenarios
- Registration cost: $60
- Reporting fee: Free for the first program of choice; $16 for every additional program
- Re-scheduling fee
- 30 days before the scheduled date: Free of cost
- Less than 30 days before the scheduled date: $20
The raw scores are sent directly to the schools of choice and not disclosed to the candidates. The candidates are sent a quartile score instead based on their standing among other test takers. This can range from the first quartile being the lowest and the fourth quartile being the highest and comprising the top 25 percent of the test takers.