Busting 7 myths about the Casper test
The university admissions process is one of the most challenging experiences many students will experience. Students go through countless hours of prep work, a lot of dedication, and many nights of restless sleep anticipating to hear back from programs. Having a strong support network through friends and family, online communities, and student groups can be of tremendous help in managing some of the stress.
Sometimes though, these networks can also unintentionally (and on rare occasions, intentionally) spread misinformation. The admissions process can often seem like a black box – programs want to be transparent to their applicants for fairness, but at the same time, don’t want complete transparency or else students may find ways to game the system and collapse the integrity of the selection process.
At Acuity Insights, where we develop and produce the Casper test, we are also balancing between these two values. We want to provide applicants with as much information as possible so that they feel comfortable before the test and ensure that the information we release will not compromise the integrity of the test.
With that said, we have noticed that there are a number of things we should directly address based on the feedback and the information we’ve gathered from online forums. Our applicant support team is always there to help if you are unsure or unclear about anything related to the Casper test, you can reach out to them directly through our website. We are a friendly group trying our very best to make sure that everyone’s experience is a positive one, or at least, as positive as it can be for such an important admissions requirement!
Below, we highlight some of the “myths” about Casper.
Casper is just a typing test
The Casper test poses both written and video-based real-life scenarios, and then requires the test taker to provide either a typed or video-recorded response. Like any test, Casper is timed – but unlike other tests, Casper does not deduct marks for spelling or grammar errors, or answering in bullet point format. The Rater is looking to see if you have addressed the situation using any of the ten aspects of social intelligence and professionalism that the test is assessing for, including collaboration, empathy, resilience, and teamwork.
We have also responded to feedback from applicants and now include a video-recorded response section, which gives you the chance to deliver your responses to some scenarios verbally as well. Research shows that this updated version of the test demonstrates even further decreased demographic differences of the Casper test, especially as compared to knowledge-based assessments like GPA and MCAT. These efforts, and 4 years worth of research to investigate this new combined format, support our goal of increasing fairness in the admissions process.
Acuity Insights runs their own Casper Test Prep Course
We firmly believe that test publishers should never offer a paid test prep course, as it will further impact applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who are already disproportionately shut off from pursuing post-secondary education. Equity is one of the ten competencies of Casper, and also one of our core values as a company. We want to level the playing field as much as possible to facilitate the most fair and equitable admissions selections that consider the varying backgrounds of all students.
All official test prep material we provide is free and accessible under the Test Prep and FAQs pages on our website. You’ll become familiar with the objectives of Casper, its format, and the types of questions that get asked. We also provide a practice test, which is available to all applicants in their account. About 70% of test-takers report preparing for fewer than 2 hours for Casper, so we don’t anticipate more prep work is necessary beyond that.
We DO NOT, and will never ask you to pay for a prep course or any prep materials for the Casper test. Additionally, we do not offer any additional sample questions to sell to applicants. Casper is a situational judgment test that draws on your lived experiences, values and overall judgment – areas that have developed over time. Even though many third-party companies may have the word “Casper” in their name, they are in no way affiliated with our company, Acuity Insights, and we do not endorse them. They have all been asked directly by us to make sure that they are being transparent with applicants that they are not associated with us or the Casper test. Anything we believe would help you improve your score will be directly communicated to you through our website.
There’s no research that proves Casper is effective
This claim is extremely erroneous – in fact, Casper is backed by nearly two decades of research and was created by a university. This strong evidence is a reason why hundreds of programs – from medical education, teacher’s education, business education, and beyond – use Casper in their admissions process worldwide.
Casper was initially developed by Drs. Kelly Dore and Harold Reiter at McMaster University to provide academic programs with a reliable and valid measure of social intelligence and professionalism.
Today, there are many publications and studies that support the validity of Casper, and more information about our ongoing efforts and collaborations with higher education partners can be found on our research page.
The Casper Test is machine-scored
Many standardized tests have moved toward automated machine scoring of essay and short answer responses to handle the sheer volume of answers that need to be graded within a tight deadline. While it may be attractive to automatically score Casper responses for various reasons, we DO NOT score any section of the Casper test using a machine. Every section of the 14-section Casper test is graded by a human rater, who goes through extensive screening and training to ensure that the scores they provide are fair and accurate. While there have been great strides in Natural Language Processing (NLP), current research on the reliability of NLP has not yet reached a level where it can accurately capture all the nuances that human raters can appreciate.
One of the downsides of using human raters is that you will have to wait for some time before the responses are scored and sent to the programs, which at the moment takes about 2-3 weeks. This is why test dates are scheduled well before your school needs them.
You can get your scores back if you ask Acuity Insights
False, but you’ll get quartiles
One frustration that we are hearing from applicants is that you do not get to receive your scores back after the responses are rated. We hear your frustration and understand your concerns. You want to know how you did on the Casper test so you can have a better understanding of why you may or may not have been invited to an interview, or to help you figure out if there are ways to improve your performance for the next admissions cycle.
We do not want applicants to withdraw from applying to a program because of their Casper score. To give you a better understanding of the test, it’s best to discuss what exactly a quartile score means for you as an applicant.
What you should know about quartile scores:
- All applicants are provided with quartile scores. Quartiles divide a set of scores into four equal parts, meaning that a quarter of scores are placed in each quartile.
- The score you receive shows how you did, when compared to your peers on a single test instance.
- The Casper test is not a cut score, like MCAT, GRE, or GPA – those that score in the bottom quartile are still eligible for interviews and offers from the program.
- Having a lower score does not indicate the number of answers you scored “wrong” – it’s an indication of the strength of your responses relative to other applicants (peers) who took the test at that time.
- Each school has adopted Casper in different ways: some incorporate it into their holistic file review process, some adopt a relatively conservative threshold, and others are monitoring and adjusting the weighting placed on Casper as they continuously refine their admissions process.
By providing feedback in the form of quartiles, we’re balancing the needs and priorities of both applicants and programs. You can check out our FAQs to learn more about Casper scores and quartiles.
You must always stay within the view of the webcam
Partially true, not during the breaks
This myth is only partially true. You are required to stay within the view of the webcam during the test, as applicants are continuously monitored to ensure that the person who registered for the test is actually the one taking the test. However, you are free to leave the view of the webcam during the optional 5-minute and 10-minute breaks that occur during the test. You do not need to ask us for permission to do so. This is your time to do whatever you need to do in order to come back refreshed to complete the rest of the test. So feel free to go to the bathroom, walk around your room or grab a quick drink or snack. We are able to tell from our end if you are in the break section of the test, so we will not be penalizing you in any way if you leave during this time.
During the test, however, your webcam must always be on and you must be in view at all times on every section of the Casper test. This is for the purposes of proctoring, as well as for the video responses that you will record. We do not use your image in any way to influence the outcome of your Casper score.
The company only cares about the bottom line
Casper was developed at McMaster University, where co-creators Drs. Kelly Dore and Harold Reiter were addressing a gap in the admissions process at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. The medical school was having to make high stakes decisions without all of the necessary information – Casper provided a solution to this issue. In 2010, Casper was implemented at McMaster University and other schools became interested in implementing Casper, to help with their own holistic admissions goals. Acuity Insights was created as a company so that Casper could be offered to other schools requesting it for their program admissions.
From the very beginning of its inception, Acuity Insights has been focused on providing applicants with an opportunity to showcase their strengths – beyond their grades. We know that the Casper test has lower demographic differences than other standardized, knowledge-based tests, which means that underrepresented students that take Casper experience less bias than those that take tests like MCAT and the SATs. Acuity Insights also employs a full-time operations team that focuses on supporting applicants and ensuring each applicant has what they need to succeed on their test.
In addition, Acuity Insights is committed to ensuring that tests do not become a barrier to students who do not have the financial resources to take the test. It has introduced a self-funded Financial Assistance Program (FAP), which over 20% of medical students have received.
Do you have additional questions about the Casper test? Please visit our FAQ page to find out more about Casper.