About 2.42 lakh students will create history of sorts when they take the Common Admission Test (CAT) this year. The test, which is to be held online for the first time, will begin on Saturday and continue till December 7.
Nitin Goyal, who is appearing for the test for the first time, appeared apprehensive about the test going online.
“I am a bit worried. What if there is a technical failure?” he said.
His apprehension is not unfounded though.
On October 31, Indira Gandhi Open University’s first online test was a failure because the server crashed after applicants had answered three questions.
Ankit Bedi, another applicant, has other worries. “Reading comprehension and data interpretation is easier in paper-pencil format,” he said.
Prometric, the company that is organising the online test, assured technical failure would not happen.
“All the test centres were evaluated to ensure that they met our standards for candidate access and convenience, hardware and software, generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), internet connectivity and security,” said Ramesh Nava, vice-president & general manager, Asia Pacific, Japan & Africa, Prometric.
“In the event of power outage, there are contingency options to ensure that data is not completely lost and will even allow for full recovery,” he said. “Exams remain on the local file server during the test and every time a candidate makes a selection, the response is immediately stored on the server when he/she advances to the next item.”
Nava said if there was a blackout or any other disruption — like if a workstation crashed — all the candidate’s responses would be safely housed on the server's hard drive, which will have a back up with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
When power is restored, or the appointment is transferred from the defective workstation to another computer, the exam can be resumed exactly where the candidate left off, with no loss of time.
Satish Deodhar, faculty member of IIM-A and convener of CAT exams, said taking the exam online would be a better experience for the candidates.
“Earlier the candidates had to go to a high school to appear for the test with lots of distractions, like broken chairs or a nosy environment. Now, they will sit in air-conditioned rooms which are quieter and they can concentrate better.”
Addressing the fear of technical snag, Deodhar said: “This is not an internet-based but computer-based test, so there is no question of any server crash. Prometric has ensured the strictest security measures for the exams.”
He also said the evaluation process will be quicker and less prone error in the new system.