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Canadian_Med_Dream

CASPER group practice

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Alright guys here's the mini guide I made. Please keep in mind this is what worked for me, and you may need to tweak a few things to make it work for you. I had quite a low GPA for Mac, and about an average CARS score for applicants so I feel my CASPER score was a big determinant of my acceptance to Mac. That being said, everyone is different so if something I suggests feels counter-intuitive to you then please go with your instincts. That's the most important piece of advice I can suggest for the whole med process. Here's the guide below. If you guys have any questions, please post them here if you can, just so others can see answers to. If it's something more personal then of course PM me. School is getting a little busy now though so I may not be able to reply very quickly. 

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Now for CASPER, I'll do my best to articulate the approaches that worked for me. I definitely spent a lot of time scouring the forums and seeing what worked for people. I believe there is a CASPER/MMI guide by popular demand, on one of the subforums, so I would definitely advise you to read that over. A lot of people say that you can't really prepare for CASPER, but honestly I think that there are things you can do that can significantly improve your performance. 

 

The first thing I would do is to make a long list of all the extracurricular activities you have done in the past, literally anything and everything you can think of. You'll have to do something similar for OMSAS anyways so it's a great exercise to do for your med school app. The next thing I did was to write a little bit about each extracurricular activity I did, in terms of the experience I had, challenges and how I resolved them. As you probably know, a heavy amount of CASPER involves conflict resolution, meditating with parties who have different points of view, and dealing with tricky ethical scenarios. I found that by listing my EC's into different categories, I was able to have a few experiences off hand that I could list for resolving conflicts with a peer, resolving conflicts with a supervisor, dealing with an ethical dilemma, managing concerns between people who have a professional/personal relationship with me and whatever else they may throw at you.

 

The next thing I would do is to practice your typing speed. Now most people already have a sufficient typing speed so it isn't really something that needs to be improved, but if this is an area of concern for you I would strongly consider working on it to improve it so that it doesn't limit you. 

 

The above should cover what you can do in terms of your own experiences and abilities to improve your chances of performing well in CASPER. What I would focus on next is gaining the necessary knowledge/practice to do well. I would split this up into two ways, one is through reading different strategies, and ethical guidelines, and the other way is through practicing using CASPER tests. I read a little bit of Doing Right, and while it's not overly helpful, it certainly doesn't hurt you at all. So for that reason I would advise you read at least some of it so that you won't feel anxious or unprepared because others around you may have read it and you haven't. Next, I would research a little bit about effective conflict resolution strategies and frameworks. Now there's awesome resources on this forum, but definitely loads of others online as well. I'll try and give an example to help articulate what I mean. 

 

One type of question that will come up at least once, if not multiple times is conflict resolution. Now everyone has a different approach and framework that they may use but they all follow some general guidelines. The first thing I do when someone approaches me with a conflict is to make sure I listen attentively to all of their concerns, opinions and experience. Allow them the opportunity to speak without trying to jump in, or offer a solution. This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often we tend to jump in with a solution without letting people just fully express what they're going through. Once this has been done, I move on to the next "step" in the framework. Next I validate the concerns/challenges that the individual is going through. For instance, if we were in a group and the members were having an issue with one of the others, I would validate and acknowledge that the frustration or anxiety they're experiencing is okay to feel. I would assure them that anyone in their situation would feel a similar way and that they don't need to feel bad or reserved about how they're feeling. By taking the necessary time to do these things you establish a rapport with the individual in question, and this can be extremely beneficial when you're trying to resolve the conflict with them, or come up with effective solutions. 

 

Now we can move onto the actual conflict resolution part. I think often times people can get really caught up in trying to find "THE" solution, and the answer that will make you stand out from everyone else. Yes, there definitely is a creative component to approaching conflicts, however that doesn't mean that every "out of the box" solution is the best one. There may be a conventional solution or process to follow that could be effective. For example, when there is a conflict between workers or students in a group, common protocol is to try and resolve the issues internally, and when this can't be done in a safe and effective manner, to involve supervisors/professors, HR, TA's etc that can help mediate the concerns. At this point I would offer a potential solution or two, and emphasize that I would work with the individual to create solutions that are tailored to their needs. In your response you can mention one or two solutions you would offer them, but highlight that you wouldn't hesitate to modify or change the solutions/approach to the problem if necessary based on what the individual may need.

 

The final part of your response is post-conflict resolution. I think this is the part a lot of applicants tend to miss or neglect. Once you've resolved a potential conflict, there should be some actions you take to ensure that the resolution was effective, and to prevent future conflicts from arising, or getting to a significant point. For example you can direct an individual to various resources or avenues they can reach out to if they have concerns. Depending on your relationship with them, you can offer to be someone they can turn to if something like this comes up. Finally, you can reflect on the issues yourself, what you learned from it etc, and comment on how the experience can help guide you in similar situations that may arise in the future. 

 

Another significant type of question that may come is the one asking you to talk about some aspect of yourself. For these types of questions, it really helps to know your strenghts, weaknesses, and experiences/activities that help demonstrate them. These should be the easiest types of questions to answer, yet often times they leave people staring blankly at the screen because they haven't taken the time to truly connect and really know themselves. This can include what you like/dislike, your values system, what you stand for, what things you're adamantly against, and what factors go into your identity and what makes you, "you". After taking some time to figure all that out, once questions like these come up, just be honest and straightforward. Try and portray who you are as best as you can through a computer screen, and be genuine and enthusiastic about what you say. Of course there may be certain traits or qualities you want to emphasize about yourself, and this can be a great thing. However as long you remember to keep your responses framed in the context of the question you should be in good shape!

 

Now, the final part of CASPER prep involves actually doing some practice questions. You can ultimately decide which tests you would like to do/purchase. And you can even find plenty of questions online. For me personally, finances were extremely tight, so I had to be very conservative with my prep resources. I bought the BMO practice test, (the cheapest option, not the gold or platinum things they had) and watched the video first, which doesn't say anything new but might help you out, and then performed the practice test. The other company I used was the MockCasper test. These were good because I was able to get a bunch of tests for an affordable price. A lot of their questions were medicine related, and honestly these questions rarely, if ever, come up on your CASPER. I am not in anyway endorsing or promoting these resources as effective, they're simply what worked for me. 

 

The last part I want to touch on is about confidence/trusting yourself. There are a lot of companies that want to take advantage of the fears, concerns and insecurities that premed students have. A lot of CASPER companies offer things like "expert feedback" or coaching. In my opinion, not only are these largely ineffective but they can be very damaging and harmful to your application as well. Even if you go with a company or individuals who claim to be on the "inside" or having experience with reviewing CASPER applications, I would still be very hesitant to pay for, and listen to their feedback. Through your CASPER prep, you need to learn what your style of answering questions is, and trust yourself in that process. I can't emphasize enough how important this is. The more you practice something specific, the better and more efficient you become at it. This is why I recommend figuring out what your style of conflict resolution/response style is. Once you experiment and figure out what approach you take, the different steps, then you effectively have a framework where you fill in ideas and words based on the specific scenario they give you. If you don't have a framework down, then you run the risk of rambling/going off topic, bringing up too many issues, and worst of all, failing to answer the question that you were originally given. 

 

My overall CASPER prep was around 10 days, because I didn't know my CARS score until 2 weeks before my CASPER date, so I didn't want to start preparing until I knew for sure there would be a point to it. Ultimately you have to decide how long you would like to prepare, but the more time you give yourself for these things the better. Ultimately it's your life experiences that help you do better at CASPER. The more diverse and enriching experiences you have, the more you can draw from. If you feel like you have less of these experiences, then it simply requires you to spend more time and effort trying to draw what you can from these experiences. And believe me, you'd be surprised how many lessons and positive outlooks you can find from even the most arbitrary experiences.

 

Hopefully this helped answer your questions and concerns about CASPER. Sorry for not getting back to you earlier, it's been a hectic week thinking over which school to accept my offer, and making sure I submitted my acceptance correctly! Let me know if you have any further questions, or if you wanted me to review some questions with you, or offer suggestions. Again, going back to what I said about feedback, you ultimately have to find what style you like and run with it, but there are red flags or areas of improvement that I would be happy to go over with you. 

 

Best of luck with CASPER, and your medical school application this cycle!

 

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I have score casper before. Keep in mind that the people scoring your casper don't know anything about you or your background, and your responses are not passed on to schools. So scorers are instructed to disregard someone describing an EC they did and instead just interpret the answer in the context of the question. So if the question was like describe a time where you had a conflict and how you resolved it, you don't get any points for saying how, as the CEO of a non-profit that saves the children overseas, you had a difference of opinion with the CFO, as opposed to how you disagreed with your lab partner in science 101 about how to measure something.

At the same time, this also means that you can write whatever you want, and you don't need to write out your ECs or anything, you can just make up a scenario on the spot, because that part doesn't matter. When they are asking you about yourself, they care more about how you can be mindful and self-reflective, and translate that into medical practice or canmeds roles. We don't have any way of checking if you actually DO love to garden, and how tending to living things over time has taught you the value of persistence and how multiple small changes can lead to big results, and your philosophy of preventative medicine is the same, blah blah blah. :)

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Definitely agree with bearded frog. Although what I find is that it's much easier to discuss something that actually happened (or at least similar to it) in a high stress situation when there's not much time given, rather than make something up on the spot and hope it follows the situation. Of course things aren't verifiable, the way you present your ideas and show your thought process matters much more than the specific experience you're describing (i.e. conflict resolution as a manager of a business vs. group leader of a project).

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