- May 06 2022
- Dr Aayush Deb
It was just a regular Friday in the Department of prosthodontics and I was working on finishing my temporary denture for a patient I had scheduled for the coming Monday. Thinking it was a Saturday I was working faster than usual. I was almost done for the day when it struck me….the next day was a working day as well! Thus began the mental process of convincing myself to take the next day off (which I eventually did) since I would have nothing to work on the following day.
The long weekend was spent mostly sleeping and largely being otherwise unproductive. A guilt ensued on Monday, an inner voice saying, “ you missed out man” followed by my colleague telling me how on that very fateful Saturday he observed one of the most unique cases of post COVID mucormycosis. After my roast, which lasted for longer than I would have liked, I pondered thoroughly on how much I overlooked when I was considering bunking college for that day and the reasons started to trickle in. I could have assisted my seniors, I could have observed interesting cases, I could have helped out my juniors and even my co-interns out but I chose to shut my mind out from logical reasoning.
As a professional, you are bound to encounter situations where you need to examine, assess and finally decide on your course of action. The long anecdote was just an inadequate example of coming to conclusions without considering all the possibilities, or rather opportunities.
Dental programs in the USA are always overwhelmed with the candidate inflow every year. Therefore, admission committees in certain programs take assistance through peripheral assessment tools to
get/judge applicants. One such test to gauge people skills and to get a holistic perspective of the candidate’s persona is the CASPer test.
CASPer is the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics. It is a test that some dental programs require as an obligation to select candidates who they find compassionate, ethical, empathetic, motivated, resilient, and with decent overall interpersonal skills to suit their program needs. It serves as a valuable indicator for selectors as to who they would prefer to interview since this assessment along with other traditional and obligatory scoring criteria like the GPA, the INBDE(the INBDE is a pass/fail exam), the TOEFL, the Statement of Purpose, Letter of recommendation, clinical experience, etc gives a more holistic perspective of the candidate to the selector. It tells them more about the backstage human skills responsible for the numbers and the scores.
The exam is an open response situational judgment test. The test is an amalgamation of 12 scenario-based sections, of which 8 are video-based scenarios and 4 are written scenarios. The order of the presentation is random and jumbled. Each scenario after being played or displayed in written format in front of your screen will be followed by a 30-second reflection period after which you will be shown three open-ended questions. The candidates are given five minutes to type in suitable responses for all three questions. Once submitted, a candidate cannot go back to edit or delete their original responses or play the video again. A candidate should not fret too much about grammatical errors in their response as the test raters judge responses based on content. The entire test can last for 60-90 mins with an optional 10-minute break given halfway through the test. The response to each scenario is rated by a different human rater who is a diverse group of people. Once a test has been rated it is sent automatically to the programs selected by the candidate.
This test is a requirement in a handful of universities as of June 2021, they are Indiana University, University of California San Francisco, Temple University, California Northstate University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Louisville, and University of Utah. Universities like Boston University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have Casper as an optional requirement.
The Casper test is conducted by the Altus Group. The test can be booked through the TakeAltus website( https://takealtus.com/casper/ ). The fee for the test is $25.
The test can be taken anywhere. All you need is a personal computer or laptop with a working webcam, microphone, and good internet connection. The test is supported only on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Casper recommends registering for the exam three days prior to taking the test for completion of verification. The Casper scores are valid for one admission cycle
Preparing for this test beforehand is recommended to familiarise yourself with the format and type of questions. You can prepare for the Casper test using the Casper test prep by BeMo ( https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/casper-book-resource). You can also have a look through sample scenarios from the Altus website
Tip: plan to book the test as soon as you submit your application to any of the aforementioned schools, as you might struggle to find dates later.
Casper offers a chance to get foreign-trained dentists more accustomed to American workspace ethics and scenarios and also helps the candidate to acknowledge and conquer biases and prejudice that he/she might have previously harbored. Thus, it is a learning process that benefits you twofold, first being the fact that it boosts your CV, and secondly, it also helps you handle situations with a better perspective in your professional life. It is a test that has proved to be reliable in assessing candidates and over the coming years might be an obligatory requirement in many more schools.
Here are some sample questions to get you up to speed with this test
You are a customer. You are shopping at the pharmacy and see a young mother with her baby steal formula and walk out of the store. She seems well dressed and healthy. It doesn’t seem like anyone else in the store noticed this happening.
- What do you do?
- What are the ethical, legal, and psychological implications of your decision?
- Would your answer change if you were told this was the only time the mother did this?
You are a university student and you haven’t seen one of your closest friends, who also happens to be in many of your classes, all week. This is unusual for them. You attempt to call them, but they don’t answer your calls. Their roommate bumps into you in the hallway and mentions that your friend hasn’t been looking so good lately.
- How do you handle the situation?
- What factors do you consider in deciding whether or not to show up at your friend’s dorm room?
- How do you decide if/when to involve the help of other individuals (professionals, parents etc) in this situation?