CASPer Exam for Physician Assistant Program Applicants

As you peruse university websites to narrow down the list of physician assistant programs you want to apply to, you may come upon a requirement to complete something called the CASPer™ test. CASPer, which stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics, is an assessment used by programs in the field of medicine – including many physician assistant programs – to assess softer interpersonal skills that can’t be qualified by traditional academic assessments.

What Kind of Exam is CASPer?

CASPer is what is called a situational judgement test (SJT). These sorts of tests pose hypothetical, real-life scenarios to the test taker who must explain what they would do in the given situation and why. These sorts of tests can shed light on a person’s knowledge-instruction skills and behavioral tendencies. Behavioral tendencies are an important consideration for doctors and physician assistants, who will be interacting with all sorts of patients. The sorts of tendencies and soft skills that the CASPer evaluates are:

  • Self Awareness
  • Professionalism
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Empathy
  • Resilience
  • Equity
  • Problem Solving
  • Motivation

With many programs having a high number of applicants, CASPer is another way to show that you as an applicant have skills to offer to the physician assistant field. CASPer allows schools to get a more holistic view of their applicants so that they can grant admissions to students who have both the academic and soft skills needed to be successful in the field.

How is the CASPer Test Formatted?

The CASPer consists of 12 different sections or scenarios. For each of these, the test taker will receive a scenario via written word or video. They will then have five minutes to answer three open-ended questions regarding the scenario, which will allow them to explain what they would do in the given scenario and why.

How Long Does the CASPer Exam Take?

The CASPer test takes between 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Progression between sections is automatic and there is an optional 15 minute break part way through.

How is the CASPer Test Scored?

Humans score the different sections of the CASPer. A different person scores each section, meaning the answers are looked at by a diverse group – in fact the group of graders is selected to reflect the diversity of the general population. A lot of training goes into preparing these professionals who are people that care about the field’s future.

When Can I Take the CASPer Test?

The CASPer website allows you to view dates and times that you can take the test based on the schools you are applying to. You can then make your reservation to take the test right on the website. Make sure to click the icon that states you are applying to physician assistant programs so that you are directed to the proper sign ups!

Does the CASPer Test Cost Money?

As of May 2021, the CASPer test itself costs $25 and then you pay an additional $12 for every school that you send scores to.

How Do I Get My Scores to the Programs I am Applying to?

CASPer scores are automatically sent to the programs of your choosing!

How Do I Know if I Need to Take CASPer?

If a university requires you to take the CASPer test, it will typically be mentioned on the application requirements section of the program website. Look carefully at the program requirements to see if you need to take this test. If you are unsure, always reach out to the school directly.

How Can I Prepare to Take CASPer?

CASPer has some resources to help you prepare for the test right on its website. There are sample scenarios as well as helpful pointers.