The Common Admission Test (CAT) for getting into the seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and about 50 other business schools in India will be conducted online for the first time this year.
One reason for changing the CAT format from a single-day paper-based test to a 10-day computer-based examination is the growing number of candidates.
“Over the last five years, the number of candidates appearing for CAT has increased from 100,000 to about 241,000,” said Satish Deodhar, convener, CAT 2009. This year, however, the number of candidates this year has fallen -- by 1.8 per cent --
for the first time in 12 years.
The tests will be held between November 28 and December 7. Two batches of applicants will take the examination every day. The question papers will be different for every batch.
Some issues relating to CAT going online remain unanswered.
While the computer-based format might prevent paper leaks and copying, it is unclear how extensive discussions on the questions, which can reveal their general trend, can be prevented during the 10 days over which the test will be held.
To appear in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), a must for admissions into management institutes in the US and some other countries, candidates have to sign an agreement on not disclosing the questions. The Graduate Management
Admission Council, which conducts GMAT, has in the past sued offenders and cancelled their scores.
Candidates appearing for CAT this year will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
“While the format of the test will remain the same, some things will require adjustments. For example, earlier we could solve several data questions on the question paper itself but now we will have to copy the table, which will consume time.
Similarly, we will have trouble highlighting the reading-and-comprehension passages as the highlighted text will disappear once the candidate moves to the next page,” Delhi-based Kanika Katyal (22), who will appear for CAT this year, said.
Students will, however, be provided with pen and paper to carry out their rough work.
“The format of the old CAT was something students were comfortable with. Also the fact that everyone was answering the same paper was reassuring,” said Maithri B., a student at IIM Bangalore.
Maintaining uniform levels of difficulty across 20 batches of examinees may be the biggest challenge this year.
“Some key concern areas are standardising the difficulty levels of questions across 20 batches, uninterrupted power, systems failures and hardware /software issues,” said Arindam Lahiri, director (academics), Career Launcher, a CAT coaching centre that has been training students on the new format.