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What to make of your Casper ranking?

Ever since the Casper became a mandatory component of most medical school applications, applicants have felt torn regarding the right approach to tackle it. This has created a stigma around the test where some will say it is better to show up without any prep as being a situational judgment test, the Casper remains immune to coaching, while others have devoted considerable amounts of time & prep towards achieving the highest score possible. Whether there is a right or wrong way to take this test, is beyond the scope of this article and most importantly remains a personal decision. We have encountered students who have done very well without any prep and we have encountered others who have thrived after one or several coaching sessions. If you are debating which of the two categories you fit in, we invite you to schedule a FREE consultation with us to help you narrow your options.

The purpose of this article is to shed some light on what happens after you’ve written the Casper and you’ve received your ranking. What to think of your ranking & how to interpret it. Before we continue it’s important to understand how the Casper is scored.

How is your test scored?

Each prompt (followed by 3 questions) is scored by a unique rater, resulting in your test being evaluated by a total of 15 people (since there are 15 questions total). This ensures your performance score represents a robust measure of many independent and unique impressions of you. Each rater is assigned a particular prompt and provided with detailed instructions and relevant background information necessary to fully grasp & evaluate the prompt. Raters are instructed to rate the same scenario for multiple applicants which means that each rater will only score an applicant once. As mentioned previously, this ensures an applicant’s final score is always made up of the impressions of multiple raters.

Before evaluating your test, each rater must complete a training session and accreditation that ensure careful and fair evaluation of responses. It’s important to note that the programs you apply to do not see your actual types or recorded responses.

How/when is your score distributed?

Recorded scores are sent to desired programs about 4-6 weeks after taking your test. Applicants will not receive their score but instead will receive a quartile ranking. Altus doesn’t release scores to applicants to ensure a level playing field for all, to maintain test integrity to get a genuine assessment for all applicants and to respect programs’ unique admissions strategies. Only selected programs will receive a score from the video response section in addition to their regular Casper score. At the end of the admissions cycle, all programs will be given an aggregate result from the video response section for review. You will not be notified when your scores have been delivered. It is your responsibility to check your Reservation section of your Altus Suite account and look for: “Completed- Results delivered” which means your Casper score has been delivered.

What is a quartile ranking?

As a way to address the needs of applicants, Altus releases a quartile ranking to its’ applicants. This helps you understand how you performed relative to other test takers. Since each of your responses is scored relative to other responses to the same scenario, your score/ ranking represents the strength of your response relative to other responses to the same scenario. Your specific ranking indicates how you’ve performed relative to your peers on the typed section. Quartile rankings are values that divide the scores into four equal parts that represent the percentage of applicants you scored higher than.

First quartile (0-24 percentile)- 25% of all applicants will score in this quartile

Second quartile (25-49 percentile)- 25% of all applicants will score in this quartile

Third quartile (50-74 percentile)- 25% of all applicants will score in this quartile

Fourth quartile (75-100 percentile)- 25% of all applicants will score in this quartile

Now that we listed the four quartiles let's explain them in detail. Applicants who scored in the fourth (best) quartile scored higher than applicants in the first, second and third quartiles which means they scored higher than at least 75% of all test takers. Applicants scoring in the second quartile scored higher than applicants in the first but lower than applicants in the third and fourth which means they scored higher than at least 25% of all test takers but lower at least 50% of them.

How to interpret a specific quartile ranking?

Since your ranking is relative to other test takers, scoring in a higher quartile (3rd or 4th) might indicate your answers showed the following:

Greater effort: applicant provided a more detailed explanation of a specific position

Empathy: applicant considered all perspectives in a meaningful and unique way

Equity: applicant demonstrated a high degree of respect for the experiences, opinions, views & needs of others

Communication: applicant showed a strong ability to articulate & express ideas effectively

Familiarity/ adaptability: applicant showcased strong knowledge for the format of the test (typed vs. video responses) and was able to successfully navigate test components

Applicants are conditioned to place a high emphasis on quartile rankings such that a low ranking destroys any chances of getting a medical interview. Although some schools/programs use Casper scores as an additional piece of information among many metrics to make any admissions decisions, programs like University of Sherbrooke & Laval’s medical program, will only look at students who scored in the third or fourth quartiles.

Take home message…

A high Casper ranking (3rd or 4th quartile) doesn’t guarantee you an interview, but it definitely keeps you in the race. While a lower ranking (1st or 2nd) doesn’t fully disqualify you but definitely makes it harder. It all depends on the school you’re applying to, its’ specific application components and the emphasis placed on each of those components. Our advice? Brush up on your school/ program of choice’s admissions policies and schedule a free consultation with us to help you navigate this process.

Good luck!

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