M A I N   N E W S

Online CAT putting off aspirants
Fear of computer glitches brings down this year’s enrolment by 15% from 2009
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News service

BELLING the CAT 2010

n To be held between Oct 27-Nov 24, giving students enough time.
n IIMs have increased test window from 10 days to 20 days.
n 80 test centres now as compared to 100 last year to ensure  better control.
n Prometric to conduct the online exam this year too.

New Delhi, October 25
Registrations for the Combined Admission Test for entry to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have been on a decline for the second consecutive year.

The registrations first declined significantly last year when aspirants approached with apprehension the maiden online CAT format of the IIMs.

The trend continues and is more pronounced this time following severe computer glitches that affected the CAT online examination in 2009. The system failure that left several top scorers out of the race for the coveted institutes was traced to a virus attack. A fault-finding mission was initiated and the IIMs promised to deliver a glitch-free test in 2010.

But promises haven’t helped much. With just two days left for the CAT online 2010 which starts on October 27, the number of registered applicants has hit just the 2,04,267 mark. This is 15.5 per cent less than the total applicant registration last year when there were 2,41,582 takers for the exam. The year before that over 2.76 lakh applicants were vying for the IIM slot.

The IIMs for their part are going all out to familiarise the students with the online pattern, even introducing the CAT practice tests on their websites. The tests, modelled on the final online exam, are meant to help aspirants navigate the format on the computers.

But students who have taken IIM practice tests are not enthused. Vipul Banthiya, one of the aspirants, told The Tribune, “It’s a 10-minute practice test with about eight questions. It does not help. I would have preferred a pen and paper test, like the one BITS Pilani has. That is easier and fairer. Also, in the CAT online, one has to scroll down several times over to answer questions of comprehension in the English language. That’s a pain.”

So far as the conduct of the exams goes, Prometric, which conducted the online exam last year, continues to hold the job. The IIMs have, however, increased the test window — from 10 days last time to 20 days now. CAT 2010 will happen between October 27 and November 24, allowing students enough time.

But most students have enrolled for the examination midway — around November 14 — to get an idea of the exams and to know whether they are glitch-free. Also, test centres this time are lesser — about 80 — as compared to over 100 last year. The idea is to use the resources available in a better way and control the centres better. “We have already taken control of every centre and have sanitised it,” a source in Prometric said.

Meanwhile, the CAT online has boosted the coaching industry business, with a record number of aspirants enrolling for Sim CAT — a simulation of the actual CAT online. Vinayak Kudva, head of the Institute of Management Studies which offers Sim CAT, today told TNS, “Until last year, less than half of the students used to take the test. But this time, we have a huge registration. Students want to acquaint themselves with the online testing.”





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