One of Delhi University’s most-awaited entrance exam, the Combined Aptitude Test for English (CATE), had quite a few surprises in store for students. Held on Saturday afternoon, at around 2pm, the exam had several questions that many students felt were tougher than those in previous years.
“The objective section was very difficult this time around. The year before last, when my elder sister appeared for the exam, the questions were quite easy,” said Kanika Bhalla, who gave her exam at Kamla Nehru College.
But as with the level of questions, the number of applicants too jumped to more than 11,000 from 10,000 last year. The attendance at all 25 centres was between 95% and 98%. “We raised the bar consciously as the number of applicants was more than last year’s. But we have not received any complaints so far. The students don’t seem to be too disturbed,” said Sumanyu Satpathy, head of the English Department.
But post the one-and-half-hour-long gruelling exam session, the views of several students differed from Satpathy’s. “You really had to know literature to do well,” said Abhay Singh Rathore, 17, who appeared for the test at Kirori Mal College. “The test was not for people who want to keep English as their back-up option,” he added.
And it was not just the objective part of the paper that students found tough. “Even the essay topic required a good command over the language and ability to ideate well. Awareness and some literature background were required,” said Nihita Khanna, who gave the paper at Lady Shri Ram College. The topic for the essay was ‘Globalisation and its impact on culture’.
Satpathy agreed, “The paper was more literature-oriented as compared to last years' exams, which were more commonsensical. But the paper had questions for all students.”
At Zakir Hussain College, aspirants as well as teachers were even more anxious as section 144 had been imposed in the New Delhi district, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people. The article was imposed after Baba Ramdev’s protest at the Ramlila Ground opposite the college was disrupted amid violence. However, the exam went off smoothly at the centre.
The blistering 42.2-degree heat only made the situation worse for students. There were reports of a couple of students fainting during the paper. The exam had to be conducted in the afternoon as the entrance for business-related courses—BBE/BBS/BFIA—took place in the morning.
More then 15,000 candidates had applied for this exam, which went off without any glitch although there were incidents of some students being forced to rush from one centre to another.
This year, 21 colleges were part of the CATE club, up from 17 last year. Kirori Mal College, Vivekananda College, Rajdhani College and Janki Devi Memorial College are the newest entrants.