Don’t be You
As I click the words “Begin my Casper Test”, ideas trickle to my keyboard, analogies seep into my sentences, paragraphs overflow with theories, but everything is blinded by the red digital clock flashing across my screen. The undefeated timer always seems to get the best of me. It’s as though every time I look at the numbers, it counts down twice as fast. The adrenaline rush seems endless until the document is submitted.
The moment you walk through CEGEP doors, it’s as though every breath taken has a consequence on your R-score. But fear not, a single examination performed online can overrule all your bad decisions, as well as your great ones. All those all-nighters before an exam and every hang out you missed to study for the tests worth 15% which the whole class ended up failing anyways. This deal breaker evaluation is referred to as the Casper test. It is an online based assessment platform that seeks to understand your thought process when facing challenging situations. These open-ended responses seek to highlight each student’s behavioral tendencies to determine whether their personality complies with the profession they are attempting to apply for.
Casper was first introduced by Professor Reiter at McMaster University to allow their candidates to demonstrate their personalities through more than just numbers and statistics. Over the years, the platform has gained popularity in 4 countries. The evaluation assesses one’s “collaboration, communication, empathy, problem solving, equality, ethics, motivation, professionalism, resilience, and self-awareness” (Assessments, Altus). For each of the 12 situational based scenerios, there are 3 open-ended questions which seeks to get a real-life simulation of your tendencies when facing difficult situations. Professor Walsh, a psychology teacher at Dawson College described this examination as “how one logically and efficiently thinks through the answer”.
Theoretically, what one writes down on paper isn’t necessarily what they might do in real life. The difference between this evaluation and all those other exams thrown at us during school is that our field of study depends on it, our career depends on it. Medicine is the typical field associated with the Casper test, but there are many other sectors such as genetic technology and other health science related programs which include this as a prerequisite. Applying to university has turned into this monstrous task rather than a step towards adulthood and freedom. The burden of the application process has tied an excessive amount of emotion and adrenaline to the realms of possibilities for our future.
Let’s approach the assessment as a form of elementary math quiz. We have this need to see the numbers 100 whether we like to admit it or not. The bright red Sharpie marker from Bureau en Gros has programmed us to doubt our own logic. Over the years, we have created this need to avoid frequent errors. Although it is useful at times, the obsession with perfection has led to a need to apply it into every aspect of our lives including our clumsy 1 + 1 mistakes. When faced with a question which has no right answer, we tend to go with what comes out naturally, but if what comes out naturally gets graded Is it then that natural?
A high school teacher by the name of Ben Orlin has been attempting to discourage his students “from mindlessly reciting information”. He explains that this method of learning creates gap in his student’s comprehension. By memorizing pieces of the information, it prevents the brain from connecting class materials together. Millions of thought processes are possible to get to the right answer. For example, think of it as a route to work or school. There are many different routes, different entrances, and different staircases to get to your destination, but the important part is getting there. The Casper test evaluates the process of getting to the “correct answer”. In other words, we each create our own pathway towards our right answer. When reflecting on such a complex problem, the idea is to come up with a solution that makes us proud and satisfied.
A question on the 2021-2022 Casper medicine evaluation: a group of coworkers were struggling to provide a good service since their supervisor required all waitress in the restaurant to wear high heels. The order from the boss has influenced their productivity. Consequently, their tips were going down and customers were being more aggressive due to the poor service. How would you approach your boss concerning this issue?
With such a variety of factors to consider, it is hard to cover every aspect. Everyone’s priorities are different. Some may elaborate upon the topic of the tip reduction; others may argue about the discomfort for the waitress that have to suffer in heels all day. There are thousands of aspects that can be elaborated on, but since the answering period time is only 5 minutes, it is important to narrow down our answer to highlight what we find essential. Personally, I mentioned that the discomfort and pain felt by the waitresses could lead to injures and excruciating pain. Therefore, over time, the employee could injure themselves on the job which would be very costly for the owner of the restaurant.
There are infinitely many aspects to consider. That’s when our gut instincts kick in. “Instincts is when psychological signals change quickly in response to different stimuli, with or without the conscious awareness” (Morgan, Eleanor, 2021) It is essentially the idea that the first impulse or temptation we have is the right one. We have all experienced the hesitation during a multiple-choice test. After circling all the letters, we have the tendency to repeatedly go over our answers. Most people will begin to doubt their choices since their gut feeling is taken over by the abundance of time that’s left over. Let’s be honest, how often have you said the words “I circled the right answer, but I changed it at the last second”. I know I have.
Without a doubt, the red sharpie embedded in our thoughts will be scraping at our errors, but that feeling always goes away. Speaking as a student who has biology quizzes and tests every two weeks, my mistakes may haunt me for a couple of days but that feeling of regret and guilt disappears. My only takeaways from my mistakes are positive. I still remember how hypophyseal portal system is the mechanism between the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands. Researcher Maggie Wooll discusses the value and growth of making mistakes. “By getting things wrong, you improve your skills and grow in various ways” (Wooll, 2022). When we make mistakes, it forces us to zoom out of the situation and analyze the overall picture. Being able to identify our mistakes allows room for growth.
Another question asked on my Casper test was about a student in my final project group that had sent a text message saying that he would absent at the team project due to personal mental issues but then posts a picture on social media of him on a beach. One of the three questions was: “How should this situation be dealt with?” My ideas were overflowing on how I should not trust the social media appearance and how to deal with the tension in the group. A few days later, I began to reflect on how I never considered to reach out to the person facing mental issues. I began to approach the topic in a whole new way despite it being after the test. Later in the week, I was refereeing a tournament when one of my partners didn’t show up to the game. Maria, the person who didn’t show up, posted a picture of the beautiful orange sunset sky which enraged some of my colleagues, but I decided to reach out to her, not in a professional way but in a personal one. Turns out Maria’s friend died from suicide and the image of the orange sky was the last picture they took together. Even though my actions did not reflect my words written on my Casper test, it was because of my self-reflection that I was able to support Maria during her hard times.
Every stress and emotion imply their own journey. The whole medical school process comes with many steps and endless waiting time, but this journey varies all throughout the world. European countries require the bare minimum to enter this field of study while Canadian countries have created the illusion that medicine is only for students classified in the top 0.1%. An author by the name of Vanessa Milnes from Healthy Debates comments on the practicality of having such a competitive program in Canada. She addressed the issue that the reduced seat capacity excludes all those who aren’t part of that top 0.1% when it comes to intelligence or education. “In Europe, the weeding out process happens during school, as students compete to be able to graduate” (Milne, Vanessa, 2021). The main difference is that Canada challenges you before you step foot into medical school while the European education system challenges you before the finish line. The Journal of Medicine points out how 96 percent of students graduate with a medical doctorate in Canada while only 60 percent of students in European seem to complete their medical program. This highlights the effectiveness of the various methods and how despite the complex process of applying to medical school, universities in Canada have proven to select the right individuals.
These statistics demonstrate how applicants should trust the selection process. Having such a prestige program result in a form of competition to determine who is best fitted to fill those couple hundred available seats. As applicants, we have control over the words we say, the actions we do but all the rest is out of our hands. The goal is to perform in a way that makes you feel proud, having this sense of accomplishment. “Feeling proud of yourself will only motivate you to move forward with your short-term and long-term goals” (Hogan,2020) The results of your performance for the online assessment will be your short-term reward but the long-term goal is gaining knowledge, to learn from your performance.
The beauty of the Canadian education system is that you can reapply every two years. This gives applicants time to learn from their mistakes and to increase their chances of success. This once again goes back to the point on how making mistakes is what allows us to learn and to improve. Two years might seem endless but, in the meantime, it allows you to self-reflect on their overall performance. Furthermore, since the Canadian system requires you to study in a science related field while waiting for the two years to elapse, this opens doors to the discovery of new interests and the gain of experience.
Every day, strangling the mouse, waiting for your Casper classification assessment results can be dreadful. Speaking as someone who has performed three Casper tests, I know the anticipation, the grueling stress. A high school teacher, Professor Dillard has highlighted his observation of the increase in stress within his students and how senior year has turned into a marathon rather than the final sprint before approaching university. “Seniors that I teach have over the last decade, had their lives dominated more and more by this process” (Dillard, 2021) The American Psychological Association has repeatedly emphasized how upper-middle class families are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and substance abuse due to competition for admissions. Schools such as McGill, Harvard, and many top tier institutions are the root cause of this feeling.
Without a doubt, there are students who require guidance through these hard times, but did you know that there are even guides for parents to help their children cope with their emotions related to the university application process? This proves the rise in stress within this age group. Hillside, a guidance website for parents suggests setting realistic goals to build a future they want. When your surrounded by people who are all paving their future like a walk through a dollar store, as though everything is an arm length away, the only option is to embark on this illusion ourselves. Hillside uses the example of students showing their acceptance but hidden behind this truth is all the rejections and the unsuccessful attempt. Failing is part of the learning process. It’s the way of life. Not everything is fair but the best we can do is give it our best shot. Furthermore, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to set appropriate expectations.
I can’t lie and say that this evaluation is bad because it has proven otherwise but I can tell you that the Casper test isn’t what will change your life. We might stress because it’s simply programmed in us to want to succeed and get on step closer to perfection, but life is about making mistakes. This evaluation is simply a learning curve. It might change your plans for the future, or it might even bring you on step closer to your goals, but one thing is for sure, in ten years, it’s going to be like all those mini quizzes that you barely remember.
1. Assessments, Altus. “From the Creators of Casper: What You Need to Know about the Casper Test.” Student Doctor Network, 22 May 2021, https://www.studentdoctor.net/2018/04/30/casper/. ;
2. Dillard, George. “College Admissions Puts Stress on Kids to Make Adults’ Lives Easier.” Medium, Age of Awareness, 11 Nov. 2021, https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/college-admissions-puts-stress-on-kids-to-make-adults-lives-easier-1fc95f2c1235. ;
3. Hillside. “College Application Stress & Anxiety – Helping Students Cope.” Hillside, 18 Feb. 2022, https://hside.org/college-application-anxiety/. ;
4. Hogan, Brianne. “How to Be Proud of Yourself (and Why It’s so Important).” WW Canada, Weight Watchers, 13 Oct. 2020, https://www.weightwatchers.com/ca/en/article/how-be-proud-yourself-and-why-its-so-important. ;
5. MacBeth, Braden. “Ad-Conned: A Critical Look at Casper.” Science, 7 Feb. 2021, https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ad-conned-a-critical-look-at-casper/. ;
6. Milne, Vanessa, et al. “Less Science, More Diversity: How Canadian Medical School Admissions Are Changing.” Healthy Debate, 17 Feb. 2021, https://healthydebate.ca/2015/12/topic/canadian- medical-schools-admissions/.
7. Morgan, E. (2021, November 12). When to trust your gut instinct (& when to ignore it). Can You Really Trust Your Gut Instinct? Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://www.refinery29.com/en-ca/2021/11/10750796/should-you-trust-your-gut-instinct ;
8. Wooll, Maggie. “Learn from Your Mistakes: Master This Art to Achieve More.” Learn From Your Mistakes: Master This Art to Achieve More, 27 Jan. 2022,
9. TakeAltus. “Casper for 2022/23 Test Takers.” TakeAltus,
Photo, Red Digital Clock, by Free Stock Images licensed under CC BY 2.0
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