By: Savvy Pre-Med Staff
In the 2020-2021 application cycle, the AAMC piloted its Situational Judgment Test (SJT) at two participating schools. And now, leading into the 2021-2022 cycle, the AAMC SJT has expanded to five schools that either encourage or require the test.
Even though it hasn’t been explicitly stated, we believe this is the beginning of the AAMC’s long-term goal to compete with the CASPer, an SJT created by Altus Assessments that many medical school programs already require.
Moving forward, nearly all applicants will be forced to take at least one SJT, and thousands will have to take both.
So, how do the two SJTs compare? What do you need to know before taking them?
We’re here to provide a breakdown and get you ready to tackle these tests!
Here is a current list of the US allopathic and osteopathic medical schools that will require the CASPer test in 2021-2022:
On the other hand, the AAMC SJT only has five participating medical schools for the 2021-2022 cycle:
Register for the CASPer
Some participating CASPer medical schools have posted their test dates and distribution deadlines. You can see them here.
For example, Central Michigan University has a distribution deadline of April 4, 2022 and lists the following possible test dates:
May 4, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
May 20, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jun 3, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jun 17, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jun 29, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jun 29, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Jul 8, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jul 8, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Jul 18, 2021 - 1:00 PM EDT
Jul 18, 2021 - 4:00 PM EDT
Jul 29, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Jul 29, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Aug 10, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Aug 10, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Aug 22, 2021 - 1:00 PM EDT
Aug 22, 2021 - 4:00 PM EDT
Sep 9, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Sep 9, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Sep 23, 2021 - 8:00 PM EDT
Oct 14, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Oct 28, 2021 - 5:00 PM EDT
Nov 16, 2021 - 8:00 PM EST
Dec 7, 2021 - 5:00 PM EST
Jan 6, 2022 - 8:00 PM EST
Jan 20, 2022 - 8:00 PM EST
Feb 17, 2022 - 5:00 PM EST
Mar 22, 2022 - 5:00 PM EDT
Altus claims that the rest of the test dates and distribution deadlines will be updated throughout April 2021. We expect most test dates to be the same across schools, but the distribution deadlines will vary.
The AAMC SJT will be offered in five testing windows across 10 dates.
According to the official CASPer site, it’s designed “to evaluate key personal characteristics” and serve as a “reliable measure of traits like professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy.”
The non-refundable test fee for American students is $12 (click here to learn about test fees for non-US students), with an additional $12 fee for every med school you distribute your results to.
The AAMC SJT is a standardized test that presents a series of hypothetical scenarios students may encounter in medical school and asks examinees to evaluate the effectiveness of a series of behavioral responses to each scenario.
Responses provide insight into candidates’ knowledge of effective and ineffective behaviors across eight core competencies: Service Orientation, Social Skills, Cultural Competence, Teamwork, Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others, Reliability and Dependability, Resilience and Adaptability, and Capacity for Improvement.
The scenarios were developed for pre-health students, so healthcare experience is not needed to perform well on the exam. Following each scenario, you will be asked to rate the effectiveness of different actions using a four-point scale: 1 = very ineffective, 2 = ineffective, 3 = effective, and 4 = very effective.
There are 30 scenarios and 186 items on the test.
A practice exam is available to help you become familiar with AAMC SJT scenarios and items. The AAMC SJT exam includes some “field-test,” or experimental, scenarios and items being considered for future use that do not count toward your total score. Field-test scenarios and items will not be identified on the test.
The length of an exam session is generally 90-100 minutes, including a maximum of 75 minutes of exam time plus additional time for administrative activities.
If you’re the comprehensive type, feel free to read this sizable PDF from the AAMC.
No one knows exactly how much weight is given to the CASPer by the medical schools that use it.
Medical schools tend to be creatures of habit, putting the most weight on admissions factors that have proven to matter over the years. For example, many medical schools still do not put much weight in the PSYCH section of the MCAT, since they have yet to see its predictive validity with their own students.
Raters are supposedly trained to ignore errors in spelling and grammar. Your responses are anonymous, so a rater does not know who you are, or how well you’ve done on any other section.
The CASPer writers claim, “You will NOT receive your CASPer score, in the same way you would not expect to get “results” from an interview, reference letter, or personal statement.”
Except the CASPer is a TEST, not an interview. You would expect to get your MCAT score, wouldn’t you?
At this point, we do know that the test is scored on a -5 to +5 scale, with the majority of pre-meds scoring between -2 and +2.
The AAMC will release SJT score reports corresponding with each testing window.
Your score report will include a single, total score ranging from 1 to 9. You will also receive a percentile rank which shows the percentages of examinees who received the same score or a lower score than you did on the exam. The percentile shows how your score compares to the scores of other examinees.
When you elect to have your exam scored, you will select the school(s) to receive your score report. You do not need to take any further action after exam day to ensure the school(s) you selected receive your report.
Schools will have access to score reports the same day they are released to examinees. For the 2021-2022 application cycle, only participating schools will be accepting AAMC SJT scores and may consider them as one part of their ultimate admission decision.
How Exams Are Scored:
The AAMC collaborated with medical educators, including faculty, admissions officers, and student and diversity affairs officers, to develop the scoring key for the SJT.
Your score is based on the extent to which your effectiveness ratings of each response align with medical educators’ ratings. Full credit is awarded for an item if your response matches the medical educators’ rating. Partial credit is awarded if your rating is close to the medical educators’ rating.
You can’t prepare! At least, so says the company that makes it: “The general literature suggests that situational judgment tests (SJTs) are relatively immune to test preparation, i.e. that coaching is unlikely to provide benefit.”
Of course, the writers of the SAT and MCAT used to say that too, back when they were first created. It’s as if the CASPer writers are claiming, “We’ve created the world’s first standardized test where coaching will do no good.” Really?
We think this is poppycock. In fact, we’ve written several articles on CASPer prep:
Also make sure to check out our CASPer Advice on our YouTube channel.
Have any questions about the CASPer or the AAMC SJT? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!