• Rajani Katta MD & Jenny Li-Wang BA

The Casper Test Format

Updated: May 18


In this post, I'll be reviewing some key information on the format of the Casper test.


If you'd like to jump straight to your area of interest, please see these posts that address specific areas related to Casper test prep:

  1. Background on the Casper test

  2. Format of the Casper test

  3. How is the Casper test graded?

  4. Tips and strategies for how to prepare for the Casper

  5. Types of Casper test questions and how to answer them

  6. Example Casper questions and responses

  7. The Casper Test Prep Guide (with full-length sample test)


How did the Casper test format change for the 2022-2023 application cycle?


Prior to this year, the Casper consisted entirely of typed responses. However, on February 15, 2022, Altus Suite made an announcement that the format was changing.


Important changes:

  • The test includes a new video response section, where test-takers must record their own video responses to questions

  • The number of scenarios increased from 12 to 15, making the test longer

  • Test-takers will be required to complete a complete technology systems check 6 hours before their test


What is the format of the Casper test? How long is the Casper test?



The Casper exam is a fast-paced test that takes place over about 100-120 minutes. The exam consists of 15 sections:

  • 10 video-based scenarios

  • 5 text-based scenarios


After viewing the scenario, you'll be asked 3 questions. Some will ask for a typed response while others require a video response:

  • 9 scenarios will require typed responses

  • 3 text-based scenarios

  • 6 video-based scenarios

  • 6 scenarios will require a video response

  • 2 text-based scenarios

  • 4 video-based scenarios


After viewing the scenario:

  • You’ll be asked 3 open-ended questions. (There are no "yes/no" questions on this exam.)

  • You then have 5 minutes to answer all 3 questions in the typed response section. (This works out to about 90 seconds per question, although you can spend more or less time on an individual question within that total of 5 minutes.)

  • You will have 1 minute each to answer the 3 questions in the video response section.


Infographic on CASPer exam responses, both typed responses and videotaped responses
What to expect on the CASPer exam responses when typing or videotaping your responses



The Casper test sequence for a scenario that requires a typed response



Here’s the sequence for a scenario with typed responses:

  • The video scenario is played in full

  • You’re allowed to take notes while watching

  • You then have 30 seconds to think about the scenario

  • Then the questions pop up and you have 5 minutes to read and respond to all 3 questions

  • For text-based scenarios, you have 30 seconds to read the passage before your 5 minutes begin



The Casper test sequence for a scenario that requires a video response


Here’s the sequence for a scenario with video responses:

  • The video scenario is played in full

  • You’re allowed to take notes while watching

  • You're then shown the first of 3 questions

  • You're given 10 seconds to reflect

  • You then have 1 minute to record your video response

  • You will then be shown the next question, proceeding to a total of 3 questions

  • We reached out to Altus Suites for confirmation, and this is what we were told: “You will be presented with each question one after the other as opposed to the written scenarios where it’s all at once.“


You have an optional 10 minute break halfway through the test (which I strongly recommend you take).



Why do I have to include video responses in my Casper test for 2022?


If you look at the history of the Casper exam, you'll notice a few things. This is a relatively recent exam, and it continues to evolve.

  • For example, 2021 was the first time that students were able to receive their own test scores in the form of quartiles. Previously, only designated schools or programs were able to see these test scores.

  • In 2022, in addition to the typed responses that have been used in the Casper since its inception, Altus Suites has introduced video responses.

I’m not sure what prompted them to make this change, but this interesting information from Altus Suites suggests that the previous exam format may have introduced a source of bias.


Specifically, there was a difference in exam performance among certain groups when using typed responses. When video-based responses were used instead, that difference in exam performance was much less pronounced.


(Ironic in a test that specifically seeks to evaluate an applicant's sense of equity, but that’s a topic for another day and another expert.)

I’m sure that over the next few seasons, the test makers will continue to collect data to see what the ideal balance between typed responses and video-based responses should be. I expect further changes are coming.

For now, the main takeaway is that you’ll have to institute strategies to cover both typed responses and video responses.



Will every program or school be utilizing scores from the video responses?


According to the test makers, only some programs will be receiving scores from your video responses.

“Only programs who are selected to participate in our early adopter program will receive results from the video response section in addition to their traditional Casper scores…A rigorous vetting process is being implemented to select those programs who will receive video response results."

The test makers go on to say that they will only share results from the video responses once specific statistical thresholds and criteria are met.

Which programs will be using the video response section? I do not know. At the time of this post, I’ve been unable to find information on which programs are early adopter programs.


How will these 2022 Casper changes affect test prep strategies?


In one important sense, this change in the Casper exam provides an advantage.


In the span of a 1 minute video response, you'll be able to include far more than just the 3 to 5 sentences you could have produced in your typed response. If you're a slow typist, this removes that source of bias from your responses.


This change to video responses, however, does produce additional challenges. You'll have to pay far more attention to:

  • Your speaking skills

  • Your nonverbal communication

  • Your virtual self

We cover this topic further in this post in our Casper series.

What kinds of questions does Casper ask?


You'll either watch or read a scenario that presents a challenging situation. You'll then be asked to respond to three questions about each scenario.


I think of most of these Casper questions as falling into 5 general categories.

  • Situational

  • Reform

  • Personal

  • Behavioral

  • “Big” questions


The types of questions that you’ll be asked will vary in each scenario.


Infographic on the five main question types on the CASPer test
There are five main question types on the Casper test

To read more about the main Casper question types and how to answer them, see our other blog post here.


For more on how to prepare for the Casper test, please see the other posts in this series.

  1. Background on the Casper test

  2. Format of the Casper test

  3. How is the Casper test graded?

  4. Tips and strategies for how to prepare for the Casper

  5. Types of Casper test questions and how to answer them

  6. Example Casper questions and responses

  7. The Casper Test Prep Guide (with full-length sample test)


 

Dr. Rajani Katta is the creator of Medical School Interviewing 101, the course that teaches students how to ace their interviews. She is also the author of the Multiple Mini Interview: Winning Strategies from Admissions Faculty, the Casper Test Prep Guide, and The Medical School Interview. Dr. Katta is a practicing dermatologist and served as a Professor of Dermatology at the Baylor College of Medicine for over 17 years.

Jennifer Li-Wang is the author of The Casper Test Prep Guide and a graduate of Rice University with a double major in English and the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (SWGS). Jenny grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico and in her free time enjoys reading and running her small crochet business.





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