How to Ace the CASPer

CASPer is becoming increasingly popular for medical admissions in Canada, featuring schools such as University of Ottawa and McMaster University. The assessment typically includes 12 stations of questions, some are prompted by a short video, while the others are prompted by situational challenges or personal questions that require self reflection.

My approach to CASPer is to treat it as a “written version” of the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Essentially through the CASPer assessment, the school admissions committee is hoping to have a better understanding of the applicants while ruling out any red-flags (e.g. inappropriate responses). The steps of how I would prepare for CASPer include the following:

  1. Be familiar with the CanMED roles, as well as the basic principles of bioethics.

-Because you only have about 5 minutes to answer all questions in one station, one important piece of advice is knowing instantly what “CanMED role” or “bioethical principle” is entailed in a particular station. Notably, you need to demonstrate clear understanding of the scenario by using pertinent terms such as beneficence or non-maleficence. I would recommend resources including “Doing Right” or “Bioethics: An Anthology” to familiar yourself with common principles of bioethics and clinical encounters.

  1. Be fully familiar with your autobiographical sketch/experiences and be able to cite them during the CASPer test.

-This is important especially when the CASPer station asks personal questions such as “tell me about your strengths, or your notable achievements in life”. If the school you are applying for requires review of the autobiographical sketch, then you can briefly mention the activity/experience, then discuss more about the personal reflections or lessons learned. If the sketch is not part of admission assessment, then you may need to elaborate more on your chosen activity/experience in detail.

  1. Practice, practice, and practice.

-As cliché as it sounds, repetition does help to enhance your reflective and critical thinking skills! I would recommend looking up short ethical videos, or MMI questions then answer them in typing within 5 minutes. It may also be useful to get feedback about your written answers from peers or medical students for improvement.

  1. Work on your typing speed

-If you still have time after mastering Tips #1-3, then I would say go for it!