Sample Responses and Tips for the CASPer Test Using Prompts from The Office

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Last week, we introduced practice CASPer test prompts using clips from The Office, and now we’re back to provide sample responses and tips based on those examples.

If you haven’t already, take that practice test yourself so that you can compare your answers with our samples and improve your responses.  

A Quick Refresher on the CASPer Test and How to Practice

If you’re approaching this blind, we recommend reading some of our other resources to get a better sense of how the CASPer test works:

The Skinny on the CASPer: the Unfriendly Medical School Testing Ghost

A thorough breakdown of the test’s philosophy, format, timing, etc. 

3 Practice CASPer Questions and Best Responses

A guide on how to approach certain types of prompts, including tips and formulas that can apply to any kind of question. 

Application Dates 2019-2020 for AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS and CASPer

Includes all schools that require the CASPer and a comprehensive list of test dates.

Prepare for the CASPer Test with the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch

As absurd as these videos are, we believe the questions accurately reflect the open-ended nature of CASPer questions and can serve as good additional preparation material for the test.

A warning: some of the videos are PG-13, so if you don't like innuendo and a little violence, you might want to use the actual CASPer site to prep for the exam.

When developing our “sample responses” to each prompt, our staff only used 5 minutes for all three questions, just like the real test, for the sake of authenticity and solidarity with our readers. 

We’re very CASPer savvy, and we’re fast typers, so don’t make the mistake of thinking your responses need to look exactly like ours.

This isn’t a formulaic process with only one answer.

Video Prompt #1: The First-Aid Fail

Directions:

Watch the video below, then answer the three follow-up questions.

Use no more than 5 minutes to answer all three questions.

Question 1:

Michael (the one performing CPR) is a boss who wants to make the workplace fun. In what professional contexts is that achievable and appropriate?

Sample Response:

It’s achievable and appropriate in almost all work contexts, but a CPR demonstration requires a more serious tone and attitude, as to not give employees the wrong impression about the importance of the training. Using songs like “Staying Alive” can make CPR lessons a bit more fun, but the emphasis should be placed on retention and preparedness for an emergency. 

What this response does well:

It’s balanced and striving for compromise, rather than making an inflexible claim about the role of fun in the workplace. It recognizes the possibility for a middle ground while still stating a set of priorities to follow. 

How this response could be improved:

It’s smart to present an alternative solution to the problem. In this case, the writer could have proposed the idea of rewarding the staff with something fun AFTER they completed the training.

TIP: There’s usually a compromise or alternative to be found, so don’t view the dilemmas as “all or nothing.” 

Question 2:

What could Rose (the CPR instructor) have done differently during the presentation to make it run more smoothly or help the staff retain the lesson?

Sample Response:

It would be smart to break up the group into smaller working sections, since disorganization and people shouting things out became problematic during the presentation. She also could have demonstrated the lesson on the dummy herself before allowing a novice like Michael to be a model for the class.

What this response does well:

It tries to get to the root of the problem and find a preventative solution that would have positive rippling effects on everyone involved. It’s smart to take a big-picture approach and “start from scratch,” rather than focusing exclusively on the one scenario or conflict at hand.

How this response could be improved:

As we’ve sai in other articles, it can be smart to “appeal to a higher authority” in your CASPer responses. Rose could have reminded the staff that this is a requirement for their jobs, mandated by corporate, and that their continued employment hinges on receiving this training. That way, as the “messenger,” she can ally herself with the staff (as opposed to being the one and central authority) as they work through a common goal.  

TIP: Appeal to a higher authority when possible, without copping out of answering the question or taking direct action yourself. 

Question 3:

Dwight (the dummy face cutter) is reprimanded by his boss David Wallace at the very end of the video. Other than loss of company money, how could David help Dwight see the problem with his actions? 

Sample Response:

David could try to help Dwight see the perspective of others. Has Dwight ever felt scared or uncomfortable in the office? It’s likely that he made other staff members feel this way from his actions with the dummy, so David could invite some outward thinking and further empathy on Dwight’s part. 

What this response does well:

It seeks to alter behavior in the long-term and change Dwight’s overall perspective, which could translate into better decisions in the future, regardless of the particular context or scenario. This “empathy” approach seems to complement the more “logical” approach of lost company funds. 

How this response could be improved:

I think the weakness of the response comes from the assumption that employees will respond well to the idea of empathy, of stepping into someone else’s shoes. In reality, some employees won’t find motivation through this process. The response could have presented an alternative path, if this strategy failed.

TIP: Use if/then conditional statements to show how situations could play out in multiple ways. 

Video Prompt #2: Sales Roleplaying

Directions:

Watch the video below, then answer the three follow-up questions.

Use no more than 5 minutes to answer all three questions.

Question 1:

Do you feel like Jim’s (white shirt) roleplaying is fair? Should the training simulate a realistic or a worst-case scenario?

Sample Response:

It’s smart for training to simulate difficult clients or uncomfortable situations, but it’s clear that Jim is trying to make the simulation as over-the-top as possible for his co-worker. It would have been smart to introduce more criteria for their hypothetical conversation, so that they were both working under the same parameters throughout the session. Jim was allowed to improvise to a degree that became unproductive.

What this response did well:

It seeks to reform the roleplaying exercise through the idea of fairness, and it avoids placing blame on anyone in particular. The idea is to fix the system as a means to fix the people and their behavior, instead of vice versa. 

How this response could be improved:

It could have qualified what it meant by “over-the-top,” since that language is an editorialization of what happened, rather than being a fact. Like the previous response, it would be smart to present an alternative solution, such as practicing a more standard sales call first before moving onto more challenging ones. 

TIP: Try to avoid language that opines, and stick to the facts as much as possible. 

Question 2:

How could Michael (the boss in the middle) improve this roleplaying exercise?

Sample Response:

Michael should have given both staff members a clearer backstory for their roleplay scenario (i.e. giving Jim a more “realistic” character to play and giving Dwight a clearer goal as a salesman). He would have been wise to remain more neutral and objective, in the observer position, instead of interjecting so frequently.

What this response did well:

It troubleshoots the problem by providing clear, concrete, and easily applied solutions for the boss, with the goal of reducing an employee’s ability to go off script or improvise to an unfair degree. 

How this response could be improved:

It seems to assume that a hands-off approach is best, when in reality, there would likely be times when interjecting is necessary.

TIP: Every one of your arguments will have assumptions, so be cognizant of them and point them out if possible. Yet another reason to use if/then conditional statements.  

Question 3:

Discuss the ethical implications of Michael’s (the boss in the middle) reaction to and participation in his employees’ roleplaying scenario. 

Sample Response:

It communicated, wrongly, that staff could always just rely on their manager in a time of crisis, and it also implied, wrongly, that there was something fundamentally wrong with Dwight that couldn’t be corrected, even through practice. This was not the right message to send, even when caught up in the moment. 

What this response did well:

It takes a clear stance and shows direct consequences. Even in just a few lines, we can understand the implicit message behind Michael’s actions, and what that means for all parties involved.  

How this response could be improved:

The response could have moved from the conceptual to the concrete by providing alternative actions or different ways that Michael could have debriefed the exercise. 

TIP: Complement your ideas/ethics with possible concrete actions. 

Video Prompt #3: Workplace Accountability

Directions:

Watch the video below, then answer the three follow-up questions.

Use no more than 5 minutes to answer all three questions.

Question 1:

How closely should workers be monitored to make sure they’re using their time efficiently and appropriately? 

Sample Response:

Rather than monitoring their time spent, it seems more logical and appropriate to assess them based on the amount of tasks completed in a day or week. If a boss can reasonably measure the projected time for said tasks, then measuring the tasks essentially becomes a way to measure time.

What this response did well:

It proposes a feasible alternative that would still ensure a degree of accountability. Many writers would be tempted to make a “yes” or “no” claim about the ethics of workplace surveillance, but this answer avoids that black-and-white breakdown. 

How this response could be improved:

The response assumes that employees can or will complete tasks under similar time constraints, when in reality, it’s possible that employees would need more or fewer accommodations to complete their work. 

TIP: Avoid viewing issues as strictly “right vs. wrong,” since there are usually extenuating factors that make the answer more complicated. 

Question 2:

What types of actions constitute “personal business” on company time, and what actions should be given leeway? 

Sample Response:

I think that emergency phone calls, bathroom breaks, and quick conversations at the water cooler could all constitute acceptable “personal business” on the job, but excessive chatting, snacking outside of lunchtime, and running errands seem inappropriate and would require reprimand. 

What this response did well:

Even under time constraints, it managed to produce several concrete examples for both acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

How this response could be improved:

It could have proposed the office instituting a set of guidelines or policies about appropriate use of work time, including penalties for infractions. 

TIP: Be forward-thinking and suggest policies that would prevent future problems or misunderstandings.

Question 3:

Discuss the implications of close employee surveillance within a corporate environment. Would it decrease or increase the morale and productivity? 

Sample Response:

For some employees, close monitoring could be a strong incentive for productivity, but it could drain morale over time. The end results might come more from a sense of obligation and time constraint than actual pride or investment in the work. For some employees, this close hawking could exacerbate stress or even encourage them to change jobs. A task-based assessment seems like a good alternative.

What this response did well:

It exonerates the responder’s prior ideas from question #1 by accommodating multiple workers’ perspectives and showing that different people will respond differently to the same approach or environment. 

How this response could be improved:

It’s rather repetitive in its ideas from question #1, rather than adding much new information to the conversation.

TIP: Try to vary up the ideas you present from question to question, since you don’t want to appear one-track-minded to the test evaluators. 

Written Prompt: The Dundies

Directions:

Read the written prompt and answer the three follow-up questions.

Use no more than 5 minutes to answer all three questions.

Every year, your branch gets together to give out special company awards. As manager, you’re driving home after the event and realize you forgot to give an award to Toby, an HR worker. You have a lukewarm relationship with Toby, and your conversations haven’t gone well in the past.

Question 1:

Discuss a time when you made an oversight or a mistake. How did you react?

Sample Response:

One time, when hosting an event on my school’s campus, I filled out the date on the form incorrectly, which meant that all our tables and chairs were never delivered. I adapted by finding all staff members with cars and using that transportation to collect a dozen folding chairs and two tables from friends’ houses. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it showed my ability to improvise and make the best of the situation.

What this response did well:

The responder was able to conjure an example quickly and show its positive resolution.

How this response could be improved:

It undermined itself a bit with language like “it wasn’t a perfect solution.” It also would have been more powerful if it had a clearer parallel between the scenario of the prompt and the personal example provided.

TIP: Be prepared with a list of personal stories to draw upon for the written prompts. That way, you’re not scrambling to come up with things on the spot. 

Question 2:

In your opinion, what’s the best way to give an apology? How would you approach Toby?

Sample Response:

I would start by confronting Toby directly and admitting my oversight. I’d ask him what he’d like me to do; if he’s okay with it, I’d present him with a special award during lunch or after work, so that he could get the recognition he deserves. I would give him his award privately if he preferred. 

What this response did well:

It’s wise to consider Toby’s feelings and preferences before taking concrete action, rather than choosing to rectify things on the boss’s own terms. 

How this response could be improved:

It should have drawn attention to the “lukewarm” relationship and past tension with the employee, since these would likely affect how well Michael is received by Toby. It should have provided ways for Michael to diffuse that tension.

TIP: Even hypothetical situations have a backstory and history to consider

Question 3:

As manager, what would you do differently moving forward?

Sample Response:

One smart solution would be to assign each staff member another co-worker, and then have the staff give awards to each other. If each worker is assigned one other employee, then hypothetically everyone will be accounted for. The staff will have a reciprocal duty to one another, and it might make the event even more fun and engaging. 

What this response did well:

Its solution is clear and has a degree of logic; it certainly seems feasible, and it could potentially solve the root of the issue. 

How this response could be improved:

It falls prey to the assumption that the workers are immune to the same oversights or mistakes as the boss. Also, even with only one assigned person, this solution has some holes; people could quit, fall ill, be unable to attend, be unable to afford the time or money to procure the awards, etc. It could even give the wrong impression if the boss is delegating “busy work” for an event that’s supposed to be a staff reward. 

TIP: If you have time, try to interrogate your own ideas to find any holes in your logic. 

Did your answers match up with ours?

Hopefully you unknowingly applied some of our tips and learned new ones along the way, while also growing more aware of the assumptions or pitfalls to avoid in your responses.

Have any questions about the CASPer? What TV show should we do next? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll respond personally.

Good luck with your CASPer prep!