CASPer Health Sciences: Nursing (The Complete Guide)

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Who Sits this CASPer?

This version of the CASPer is designed for those that are applying to undergraduate nursing courses at certain universities in Canada. Only one school in the US currently requires CASPer for its Nursing applicants – however, if you are applying to the US and must take CASPer, the information here will be relevant to you as well.

This guide is therefore relevant for applicants to the following schools in Canada, as well as the University of Colorado Denver:

  • Cape Breton
  • College of The Rockies
  • Conestoga College
  • Dalhousie University
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • Mohawk College
  • Nipissing University
  • North Island College
  • Francis Xavier University
  • Trent University
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Montreal
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Vancouver Island University
  • York University
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Key Features

Raters are drawn only from Canada, and are chosen to be representative of the country as a whole – i.e. they will not all be drawn from one city or faculty. Altus Assessments will likely be using rates from a range of faculties across the country, as well as others involved in the Nursing profession. This could include lecturers, practising nurses, qualified nurses not currently practising, or those with some other form of interest in the Nursing profession who are able to partake in the program.

This CASPer is a unique test designed for Nursing. Whilst Altus Assessments make sure not to reveal how one CASPer test might differ from another (i.e. how this test could be any different from the Medicine test that it stems from), the principal way in which it could be different is through emphasising different core attributes, or placing a different emphasis on the already existing core attributes. As an example, one might assume that there could be a greater emphasis on communication and empathy than in Medicine, and a lesser emphasis on problem solving and ethics. However, we were able to research this assumption to an extent, drawing on lectures that CASPer and the team at McMaster have previously given.

We have found that all the questions in the Nursing CASPer, at least initially, drew upon blueprinting exercises run in conjunction with faculty members of the Nursing school at McMaster University. The members of staff were given 55 characteristics, which they then narrowed down to 12, that they considered to be most important to assess. From these 12, we know of the following: ethics, empathy, advocacy, collaboration, communication, and caring. One can see that there’s a crossover with the core attributes of the CASPer in communication, empathy, ethics and collaboration. However, both caring and advocacy are missing from the general CASPer.

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Core Components

This CASPer exam features 15 scenarios, broken down into two sections. There are ten video scenarios and five text scenarios. The first section, where you have five minutes in total to write your response to the three questions, features 9 scenarios – each of which has three questions that you must write a response to. The second section features 6 scenarios, and you must video record your answers here. You will have one minute per question, and as before there are three questions on each scenario. The total exam takes between 100-120 minutes.

Preparation for CASPer Health Sciences: Nursing

You should give yourself two months to prepare for this examination. We advise that you begin with working on your understanding of the CASPer’s format and aims. You should then work on your knowledge of ethics in the field of Nursing, and look at national guidance that defines a nurse’s role, and the professionalism and ethics expected of a nurse. As the raters are likely to have a link to Nursing, the better you are able to align your answers with those that a professional nurse would give, the better you are likely to do. You should however remember that the vast majority of scenarios will be ‘general’ scenarios, in which no specialist knowledge is required, and they will not be set in a hospital or healthcare workplace. You should work consistently over the course of two months through practice questions, checking your answers against model answers. Focus on empathy, ethics, collaboration and communication questions in particular. Ensure that the areas that you seem weakest on are your priority as you come closer to the exam.

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