The CASPer exam is becoming more and more popular, and if you are reading this post, it’s probably because you have to write it soon!
For those of you who don’t know – Here is a bit of background from the takecasper website.
“The CASPer test is composed of 12 sections: 8 video-based scenarios and 4 word-based scenarios given to you in random order. Each of the 12 sections is followed by 3 questions relating to the video/word-based scenario or asking you to reflect on a related personal experience. You will have 5 minutes to type your answer to the 3 questions before you are directed to the next section.”
One of the most common questions asked is “how is the casper test scored?”.
Instead of giving you some basic-level explanation how how the scoring works, I really want you to first understand:
a. Why is the CASPer test being used?
b. What they are really looking for?
Once you understand these two concepts, you will then be able to understand how the CASPer test is marked.
Why is the CASPer test being used?
Since the “invention” of the MMI, schools have been much more focused on identifying candidate’s soft skills before acceptance to medical school.
It is clear that having good grades means you study well and can absorb large amounts of information – and believe me this is definitely important in the first few years of medical school (where you learn page upon pages of new info a day)! But, with technology improving year by year, and answers being at the tip of your fingertips if you know where to search, medicine is focusing more and more on patient-centred care. What does this mean? It means that schools are focusing on the skills that make great physicians in general, as identified by patients and other physicians. If you search the CANMeds roles (see and learn more here), you will see exactly what the college of physicians is expecting from physicians.
We are expected to be:
All of these skills come together to make a medical expert, and a physician that causes patients to say “I have the best doctor!”
The MMI was introduced to assess for these skills prior to getting in to medical school, and now the CASPer exam is used to test for these skills even before the interview process to further select for these skills.
What are they really looking for?
Now that you understand the CANMEDs roles, you now understand what they might be looking for on a CASPer exam – someone who is highly insightful and experienced when it comes to these skills. Each station in the CASPer exam will touch on these skills in some way or another. They are looking for people who can understand the mindset of others, who can remain professional in awkward situations, who can be creative when trying to figure out solutions to uncertain situations, etc.
Take for example a video of two people arguing, and they turn to you and ask you what you think. This is your chance to type out what you would do in real life and demonstrate how you first analyze the situation before acting.
So, how is the CASPer test scored?
There are 12 sections in each CASPer test, each containing 3 sub-questions that you have 5 minutes to answer.
You can see how the timer works by trying one of our CASPer tests.
Evaluators of your test can be anyone – not just physicians. This includes, medical students, residents, physicians, psychologists, social workers, and potentially anyone who could be present on the healthcare team. Since the CASPer is being used by more and more disciplines (OT, PT, Dent, Midwifery), it would make sense to have all members of the health care team involved in grading the CASPer.
Your test will be reviewed by 12 different people – one for each section. They only get one question from your test.
So lets say they are responsible for marking question number 5, they would get all the background information for that question and many different responses for question number 5 from various candidates, and they would be marking just that question. The evaluator is not given any identifying information and does not know what you wrote in other sections. It is done this way for the same reason we have different evaluators in every MMI station – to eliminate bias and provide the applicant with a more objective score.
Scores are based on your insight and depth of your answers. Red flags would include things like lack of professionalism
Just like the MMI, there is technically no right answer, but only soft guides such as “rating a students communication skills” or seeing how much in detail you can analyze a situation before making a judgement. All of our MedCoach CASPer exams with feedback come with full scores, feedback and our marking key as well – so you can really see what is expected from the candidate on our tests.
Evaluators are trained to ignore test-taker errors in spelling and grammar.
How do we mark tests at MedCoach? Similar to the CASPer exam, we will mark each section of your test out of 9 – 1 being unsatisfactory and 9 being superb. You score is then averaged and given back to you along with your feedback (if you purchased it). On average, students get 6.5-7.5 on our tests – averaged across all sections.
If you are interested in practicing some CASPer test questions and seeing some answers, check out the link above for our CASPer tests with feedback!