The news of Common Admission Test (CAT) going online was doing the rounds since the past couple of years. This year during the convocation at IIM Calcutta it was announced by the Director Prof. Shekhar Chaudhary. To best explain CAT I quote from Wikipedia
The Common Admission Test (CAT) is an all-India test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as an entrance exam for the management programmes of its seven business schools. About 250,000 students took CAT in 2008 for about 1500 seats in the IIMs. This is said to make the IIMs more selective than the Ivy League Universities.
Over the years the number of students giving Common Admission Test (CAT) has steadily increased. The situation has reached a level where almost every graduate in the country fills the CAT Admission form and gives the test, because the exam is a multiple choice questions based and a little bit of luck can easily get you a high percentile. Almost 300,000 students gave the exam last year and this number keeps on increasing.
Thus Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have taken the bold step to enter the new territory of taking CAT online. How does this affect all of us? Well for all the aspirants it means a big change!
- CAT Test Fee will probably skyrocket! Prometric ETS has been chosen as the partner to conduct the exam. ETS conducts GRE / GMAT / TOEFL exams in India and charges more than $100 for each exam. CAT exam cost was Rs 1,300 last year.
- Preparation Costs will go up! As an ET rightly points out, all the coaching institutes will install new exam training systems and this extra cost will be passed on to the students.
- Exam Patterns will change! Reading Comprehension becomes tougher sitting in front of a computer and thus it will need to be changed appropriately. Data Interpretation and Quant portions will need to be changed as well to facilitate the computer based test.
- Online CAT Training should increase – with the whole exam going online, more and more ventures to provide online training will be around.
Even though I am sure the CAT Committee will find a good solution to the problem but I am quite amazed at how will they manage to conduct this exam over just 10 days? 250,000 students want to give CAT and with just 10 days to chose from around 25,000 will be giving CAT on each day. This just does not seem feasible with the current infrastructure in place. May be they are relying on the fact that with increased fees for CAT a good number of applicants would be driven away and then conducting the exam might be feasible.
Another interesting question is why can’t IIMs and other Indian B-Schools start accepting GMAT scores? If they are conducting the exam online, through Prometric ETS (which also conducts GMAT then may be accepting an already established exam score makes more sense. The only problem might be that in GMAT a good number of people score in 700s and above so it will be difficult to screen the applicants for Group Discussion / Personal Interview.
Anyways all the best for CAT this year! Do share your experiences after the exam.