How Important Is the CASPer Test For Medical School?
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Schools that Use CASPer
Clearly the importance of the CASPer depends primarily on whether or not your chosen schools use it as part of their admissions process. In recent years it has gained hugely in popularity, with around 50 US schools using it, as well as others in Canada, the Caribbean, and Australia. You should expect it to continue to be more widely used over the next few years, meaning that it will likely be a near-universal part of the application process very soon.
You should therefore investigate how many of the schools that you’re interested in will use it. Here is a list of all the US schools that use CASPer.
Albany Medical College
Central Michigan University
East Tennessee State University
Florida Atlantic University
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin
Meharry Medical College
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, since 2015
New York Medical College, since 2015
Tulane University School of Medicine, since 2016
East Tennessee State University, since 2016
Central Michigan University, since 2016
University of Illinois College of Medicine, since 2016
Stony Brook University
Texas A&M University
Texas Tech University El Paso
University of Colorado Denver
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Mississippi
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
University of North Carolina
University of North Dakota
University of Rochester
University of Texas Health Science Centre and Medical Branch
University of Vermont
University of Washington
Virginia Commonwealth University
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What is the CASPer used for and how important is it?
This will depend on the school that you are applying to. In general, the CASPer is used as a further screening tool – beyond grades, personal statements and files, and any further aptitude tests like the MCAT. It will allow admissions staff to better select those who are suitable to attend an in-person interview. CASPer maintains strict levels of privacy over their data, meaning that the exact processes of standardization for the test are unknown, although we do know that each station is graded by a human, and this person will grade many of the same station, before scores are standardized.
Let’s take a look at three specific schools to understand how the CASPer may be used. Firstly, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University – the school that actually developed the CASPer, before taking it to market in association with a private company. It is one of the most competitive medical schools in Canada. In 2012, its pre-interview assessment formula was: 32% Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer); At least 32% Undergraduate Grade Point Average; 32% MCAT score for Verbal Reasoning; A maximum of 4% graduate degree. We can see therefore that in a university that will use CASPer extensively, it could make up to a third of your application before the interview.
Michigan State University also uses CASPer, and explains that all applicants to the College of Human Medicine must complete the CASPer test. They explain that they believe the exam is helpful for assessing non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics, and is a useful complementary tool alongside others used in their applicant screening process. They do not provide information as to whether they use a specific cutoff or instead if it makes up a part of an overall score.
CASPer’s claim that it is of use to assess personal skills and attributes seems to be evidenced by research performed in conjunction with a large medical program in the South-East US, who established a link between CASPer score and clerkship grades. Applicants with the highest casper scores have a 5 percent higher probability of receiving the highest grade in clerkship. You should therefore consider the CASPer as a fairly robust test, and one that should provide a good overview as to whether you have the right personality type for the course.
Multiple universities across the US explain that they believe the CASPer ‘enhances objectivity and fairness’ – one of them being Vermont. Again, the fact that it complements other parts of the application screening process is stressed.
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For most universities, your CASPer test will likely be used as a part of the overall screening, and whilst it won’t ‘make or break’ your application you should focus on excelling in it to strengthen your application as much as possible. For other universities, a good CASPer score may be your ticket to interview.
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