I’m going to preface the post by saying the MOST important thing you can do is check out CASPA FAQs page, found HERE. Literally every question you could possible have will be found on this page, and they are the absolute final word on any question you might have.
However, I see a TON of questions about CASPA on a daily basis, and I wanted to give a brief answer to some of the most common ones.
- Can I submit CASPA at different times to different schools?
Yes! This is a great feature of CASPA for many reasons. Say a school requires that you have 1000 patient care hours at time of application, while other schools do not. You can submit to the 1000 hours school later after you have finished those 1000 hours.
Now with that being said, there are some hiccups to this. Once you submit to a school, your CASPA becomes “locked”. What I mean by that is you will be unable to edit things that you have already entered. This includes editing your personal statement, experiences, verified academic history, and specific program materials. So what can you do? You can add new experiences, achievements, certifications, memberships, edit your contact information, and can update evaluations.
Something else to keep in mind – in order for your application to be “verified” after you submit, it must include transcripts, your payment, and at least 2 letters of recommendation. You can submit before doing all of those things, but your application won’t be verified until you do. So make sure to check out what your program’s deadline is (I explained that HERE).
Last thing: DO NOT WAIT until the last minute! There can be lags in the system due to over-usage of people all trying to submit at once.
- Can I send an official transcript to CASPA more than once?
Nope. Once CASPA verifies your GPA another transcript will not be used to recalculate your GPA. This verification process occurs only after you have submitted to at least one school and all of your required materials are received (payment, transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation). ALL of your transcripts MUST be sent in. If you do not send in all your transcripts, verification will not happen.
Basically, you should assume that you can only send in a transcript once. If you are taking prerequisite courses and will finish before the end of summer semester, I would wait to send in your transcript because it is better to have as many prerequisite classes complete as possible.
You CAN update “planned” or “in process” coursework on CASPA, or add new planned courses. CASPA will not verify these course, but the program may reach out to you about sending a transcript directly to them.
- Can I add experiences after I submit CASPA to one school?
Yes! You can add experiences at any point. You can not edit them or delete them once your CASPA has been submitted. So, if you started a shadowing opportunity after submitting, you could add it and then hit “update” to send the updated CASPA with this experience to schools.
- Can I edit CASPA after I submit?
Nope! This is why you need to double and triple check everything before you submit CASPA to any school. (see above)
- Are Letters of Recommendation uploaded directly from the writer, or can I upload it?
The letter must be uploaded directly from the letter writer. When filling out the reference form, you enter the email address of the writer. Through this email address, they will receive a link to complete the reference. They must complete both the scale questionnaire and upload the letter to be able to submit the reference. If there are any problems with this, I would first try sending the request to a different email of your writer (say a personal email), and then contact CASPA about it.
Also, you must WAIVE your right to see the reference. By not doing this, you are giving the program a huge red flag that you do not trust your reference and what they might say about you.
- What kind of experiences should I list?
EVERYTHING makes you look good. You want to show that you are a well rounded individual and that you have interests outside of getting into PA school. CASPA has recently updated how you can categorize experiences, and it was a fantastic update! Check out THIS for more info.
- What is included in the science GPA?
Okay, firstly CASPA calculates your GPA a little differently than most schools. CASPA does not do grade forgiveness, but rather averages grades. This means that if you took general chemistry twice, and received a “D” and an “A” as grades, CASPA will average these two together and include them both in your GPA calculation. This means your GPA could be lower than what is stated on your transcript, so be aware of that.
You will not have a calculated GPA until your application has a status of “verified”.
sGPA is calculated using Biology/Zoology, Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and other sciences courses.
Non-science GPA using English, math, social/behavioral science, and other non-science courses
This LINK is AMAZING for determining what classes count for. *Labs are also included in your science GPA*
- When describing duties/key responsibilities for experiences, what format should I use?
Whatever you want! I chose to do bullet points but I had friends who wrote paragraphs. It all depends on what you think will get across your responsibilities the best. Remember, you only have a short area to describe this in, so keep that in mind. You also truly want to list every responsibility that you had.
- What do I enter AP courses as in my transcript?
AP courses should be listed in your first semester of college. Make sure to put the name of the course you got credit for, NOT the name of the AP course. Enter the number of credits you received for the class. For grade, put “P” for pass
After you finish inputting the transcript, you will be asked to select AP courses during “transcript review”. This is also were you will indicate primary college, repeated classes, other test credits, honors courses, and study abroad courses.
- How long will it take to be verified?
Verification means that CASPA has gone through and verified that all of your coursework was entered in correctly and matches your official transcripts that you mailed in.
For your application to be complete you need: all transcripts, at least two of your references marked as complete, payment complete, an official email confirmation, and your status reads “complete”.
Applications are placed in chronological order based on when they are received to be verified. During peak times (aka when everyone is submitting), it may take up to FOUR weeks. Normally, it should take TWO or less. However, it could take hours or days as well. It all depends on how busy they are when you submit. It will be a shorter amount of time if you have already submitted CASPA to some schools.
You will get an email when it is verified.
- Does it matter when I submit by?
This question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer – it depends. No matter what, I would suggest submitting a month before the deadline (giving you those 4 weeks to get your CASPA verified – which is what most schools are requiring by their deadline).
For rolling admission schools, the earlier you submit, the better. These schools are offering interview and acceptances on a first come, first serve basis. However, do NOT rush your application. Make sure it is complete and well written. All the information you want presented to the board should be there. An excellent application is better than an early (and poor) application.
For schools with a set deadline, I would submit as soon as you have all of the materials and a completed CASPA. These are schools that do not offer interviews/acceptances until all the applications have been received and looked at.
So yes, an early application is better. Every school is looking at applicants in order of arrival. But I do not think that submitting early will make or break your application and whether or not you get an interview. If you are submitting before July/August, I would say that you are in good shape.
Also, if a school needed those 1000 PCE hours (or whatever) at time of application, do not submit before you have them. Chances are your application won’t even be considered – this is a “weed out” requirement.
** My experience: I chose to apply to Yale last minute. Like the day before the application was due I submitted my supplemental application last minute. However, I still was chosen for an interview, which shows that the time of application cannot kill a good applicant.
Hopefully, this helps a little. I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT it is to read the CASPA FAQs. They’re set up to be easy to decipher and very friendly to use, and it will save you a lot of time. If you have a specific question as to whether a health care experience or class counts towards a school, check out their website! Most schools are clear as to what counts or will give you an email to ask questions to (if you can find the answer on the website, DO NOT ASK). In addition, if you have a PA student friend or PA that you know, don’t ask them questions about a specific school (i.e. I get asked all the time what pre-requisites are required for different programs that I do not attend – it’s incredibly frustrating) or something you could easily google yourself. The internet is a great resource for you to use.
Comment below on your thoughts applying to PA school and dealing with CASPA.
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