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How Do SJT and CASPer Differ?

The CASPer test has been around for a while and is now required at many medical schools. It is a situational judgment test that presents scenarios via video after which applicants must write an essay about how they would handle the situation. It is open-ended in terms of the responses (no multiple choice questions). The results are shared with medical schools but not with applicants, leaving them in the dark regarding their performance on the test.

New last cycle was the AAMC’s Situational Judgment Test (SJT). It was piloted at only a few medical schools, and has been expanded this year to six medical schools (Geisinger Commonwealth, Morehouse, University of California-Davis, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Des Moines University). This test assesses eight pre-professional competencies that medical schools value highly (and which overlap with the VITA):  social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, reliability/dependability, resilience/adaptability, service orientation, capacity for improvement, ethical responsibility to self and others (the additional competencies tested on the SJT as opposed to VITA are bolded). The SJT is designed to promote holistic review of applicants such that schools can assess them more broadly. It is a remote proctored examination that tests applicants’ understanding of effective preprofessional behaviors; they are not expected to have mastered these behaviors. Unlike the VITA, the SJT is a scored exam with results between 1 and 9 (9 being high); the score is reported on a scale with a rank. For the details on scoring and other particulars of the test, please visit the link above and the AAMC’s other materials on the SJT.

It remains to be seen whether both the SJT and CASPer will be required in future application cycles; my guess is that the SJT may supersede the CASPer and obviate the need for the latter exam. The CASPer is not designed specifically for medical school whereas the SJT was designed by medical schools in conjunction with the AAMC.

For information about how to prepare for these exams or to schedule a mock interview please contact me at liza@thompsonadvising.com.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Originally posted in August 2020 and updated in April 2021

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