The Casper test - What you need to know
4 months ago by Chris
Entry to medical courses remains extremely competitive. Faced with huge numbers of prospective students, universities are constantly developing new tests and assessments to best determine which candidates are a good fit for the medical degree and the medical career that follows.
Among these is the Casper test, a newly introduced test that is being implemented by some Australian universities as a component of their medical entry process.
Having a good understanding of the medical entry assessments and undergoing targeted prep work is a crucial step in making sure you’re as ready as possible to ace every stage of medical entry. In this blog post we’ll be discussing the new Casper test, including what Casper involves, which Australian universities are using Casper as part of their admissions process, and some tips for making sure you’re ready for Casper test day.
Why use a test like Casper?
Medical interviews are an expensive way for universities to evaluate prospective medical candidates, so universities are always looking for cost effective solutions to reduce the pool of interviewees. Even better for universities is using a test where the student bears the cost of the assessment (similar to UCAT), rather than the university. The Casper test achieves both of these outcomes, and is another hurdle that prospective medical students must overcome in order to gain admission.
What is the Casper test?
Casper stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. It is an admissions test developed and used by McMaster University (in Canada) since 2010. By way of background, it is worth noting that Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), which are widely used for medical entry, were also developed by McMaster University.
The Casper test was developed to assess an academic applicant's personal and professional attributes in the pre-screening stage of the application process. It is currently in use at over 70 medical schools worldwide. Criticisms of Casper are mainly due to its lack of transparency in scoring.
Acuity Insights is the third-party provider that runs Casper. Casper is essentially an online situational judgment test—that is, a test that provides fictional scenarios and asks students to draw conclusions.
Casper is designed to assess a set of ten domains that are deemed important for good medical practice, but that are not covered by more traditional tests such as the UCAT or GAMSAT:
The Casper test requires students to respond to open-ended questions concerning the given scenarios, which are presented both in writing and as videos. In the first half of the Casper test, students respond by recording short videos with their webcam, while in the second half, students provide written responses. Students can take an optional short break between the sections.
The Casper test is 90–110 minutes in length. When providing a video response, students record two one-minute videos. When providing written responses, students write three responses over five minutes.
In effect, the Casper lies between the Situational Judgement Test of UCAT (where the questions are not open-ended and not in video format) and interviews (which are usually live and of longer duration).
What is the role of Casper?
In recognition of the importance of less easily measured skills such as empathy to good medical practice, universities have long attempted to assess these domains when determining which students to accept into medical courses, rather than relying solely on academic results such as the ATAR.
One-on-one or panel interviews have long been a component of the medical admissions process at the majority of Australian medical schools, as one way to make soft skills a larger portion of the medical entry process. However, interviews represent a considerable labour investment for universities, meaning that only a small number of candidates with excellent test scores and school results are given an opportunity to interview. The Casper test allows universities to assess these skills at an earlier stage during the medical entry process, across the entire candidate base.
Medical schools look at a range of scores, typically including a candidate’s school results, UCAT score, and performance in an interview, to determine whether to offer them a medical place. Universities offering Casper will use it in much the same way; as one component of a candidate’s assessment. Strong performance in the Casper test may be able to compensate (to a degree) for poorer performance in other areas, and vice versa. Of course, preparing effectively for all assessment components at each medical school for which you are applying maximises your chances of gaining admission.
Which universities are using Casper?
According to Acuity, the universities in Australasia using Casper as a mandatory component of their assessment matrix during the 2023–2024 medical admissions cycle are:
University of Notre Dame (postgraduate medicine)
University of Wollongong (postgraduate medicine)
In addition to this, many overseas medical schools have adopted Casper as an assessment task for medical hopefuls. Make sure to read the admissions material provided by any university you intend to apply for, in order to determine whether Casper is one component of their medical admissions process.
How can I best prepare for Casper?
The website for Acuity Insights, the company that runs Casper, provides some useful resources for candidates, including an informational video on applying for and sitting Casper and a complete mock test.
Candidates should be sure to complete the mock test for a range of reasons:
A good understanding of the structure of Casper will help candidates effectively manage their time
Exposure to the kinds of questions featured in Casper will help candidates develop appropriate responses to less familiar question categories, such as equity, resilience, and self-awareness
Familiarity with the practice test will reduce candidates’ anxiety when taking the live Casper test
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve booked your Casper test slot well in advance, that you meet all the hardware requirements for the test (including a webcam and stable internet), and that you’re well rested and have eaten a good meal beforehand!
In our experience, students who are used to school exams can be thrown off by tests such as Casper, with its strong focus on soft skills. Here’s a few pieces of advice that can help students to prepare for the Casper test:
In addition to completing the practice Casper test under timed conditions, we would recommend students note down the scenarios given in the practice Casper and brainstorm possible answers and ideas without a timer.
Consulting with friends or family can be a great way to get a range of perspectives—Acuity will also employ a range of markers with different perspectives to review candidates’ responses.
When you prepare responses to the Casper test questions, ask yourself why it is that you think your response is the most appropriate one? You can integrate this information in your response to demonstrate to the marker your deep understanding of the scenario.
When responding to practice questions, consider which of the ten domains they are likely to fall into, and how you can target your responses to those domains. Acuity is transparent about the areas assessed by Casper, and you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Consider brainstorming new questions that would fit into the domains, and how you might answer those. (This is another great task to do with a friend!)
Spend some time thinking about the different domains. What does each mean to you? When is a time when you exemplified that characteristic? Why would this be important for a medical student or a doctor?
Since Casper is a hybrid between the Situational Judgement Test of UCAT and medical interviews, practice with both styles of questions (provided by MedEntry) will help, particularly rephrasing the questions as the open-ended ones.
MedEntry’s innovative, interactive question bank allows students to record their answers, providing valuable practice for the Casper test.