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Applicant Acceptability of Non-Cognitive Admissions Tools

Our research team presented at APMEC earlier this year – the largest medical education conference in the Asia-Pacific region. Read about their work below.


  • Medical school admissions have relied predominantly on cognitive metrics to guide decisions on who gets accepted, despite the importance of non-cognitive attributes such as communication, empathy, and professionalism
  • Recent developments in situational judgement testing (SJTs), such as CASPer, have offered programs with the ability to assess these non-cognitive skills which can generate both reliable and valid scores
  • While reliability and predictive validity are important factors, applicant acceptability also needs to be taken into consideration as they can influence decisions about where students apply


Applicants who completed the CASPer test were given the opportunity to participate in a follow-up survey to rate its acceptability in comparison to other commonly used non-cognitive admissions tools: personal statements, reference letters, multiple mini-interviews (MMI), and traditional interviews. They were asked to fill out their agreement with the following statements on a Likert scale from 1 to 7:

  • This assessment is fair to all students [Fairness]
  • This assessment allowed me to demonstrate my strengths [Strengths]
  • I enjoyed participating in this assessment [Enjoyment]
  • This assessment was stressful for me [Stress]
  • I believe this assessment is an effective tool for evaluating one’s aptitudes (non-academic) for the medical profession [Validity]


7,111 applicants took part in the survey. Despite the lower-stress nature of the CASPer test, students’ overall perception of CASPer was slightly less positive than that of other non-cognitive admissions tools.


Past studies have demonstrated the stronger psychometric properties of CASPer in comparison with other non-cognitive assessments, yet applicant perceptions of CASPer were found to be less positive. As applicants are generally wary of any novel assessments introduced into the admissions process, it is important to invest efforts into educating both the institutions and applicants about the benefits of the tool.