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How the loopholes can be plugged

A look at the possible loopholes in the CAT system and how they can be plugged.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2003 16:23 IST

The leakage of question papers of the Indian Institute of Management's (IIM) Common Admission Test (CAT) on Sunday came as a shock to many. It seems exams have lost their sanctity in India. A retest date for CAT is on the anvil. But is there a guarantee that there won't be a second leak?

"No," feels Gautam Puri, MD, Career Launcher. "There have been such paper leaks in the past. The CBI says a nationwide racket is eating into the system."

So what could the possible loopholes in the CAT system be — and can they be plugged at all?

** Loophole 1: Breach of security via IBPS, the printing press in Mumbai

Plug: IIM Ahmedabad, the nodal agency for CAT, has blamed the printing press in Mumbai for the leakage of the question papers. "But, if the press is the weak link, why can't the IIM have its own printing press?" asks Praveen Sareen, an engineer who quit his job to sit for CAT.

** Loophole 2: Technical blunder en route to/from exam centres

Plug: "Because we use pencils to circle the answers in the CAT question paper, a bribe can be paid to the central authorities to erase the wrong answers and circle the right ones," says a student. "Our signatures are also in pencil. That's equally perilous."

** Loophole 3: Lack of frequency and flexibility

Plug: "An exam like the GMAT is conducted five days a week, twice a day — in other words almost 365 days a year," says Sareen. "Its score is also valid for a considerable period of time. Exams such as the CAT, IIT-JEE or Civil Services are conducted one day, once a year and the score is only valid for just a year." Indeed, by introducing more flexibility, exams in India will witness fewer scams.

** Loophole 4: Lack of transparency in the selection process

Plug: Students do not know the weightage of various parts of the selection process. Says Ritesh Hemrajani, head, Northern Region, Institute of Management Studies, “Worse, there is scope for manipulation at the group discussion/interview stage." Which means the test syllabi should be defined.

** Loophole 4: Faulty packaging

Plug: "In B-Schools like the Kellogs School of Management or the Harvard Business School, the CV, an essay and the interview count as much as the entrance test. Entrance exams in India only test a student's knowledge — and not his intellect. Re-packaging might be the answer," says Sunit Rastagi, an MBA aspirant.

Meanwhile, all Sundays till February are blocked due to other management entrance exams. Students from smaller towns may need to return to the metros for the exam.

First Published: Nov 26, 2003 16:23 IST