Even though there are no reported fatal technical failures in the Common Admissions Test (CAT) 2011, the test is not completely bereft of glitches.
Monday, October 31, computers crashed and screen colours played truant in a data interpretation question at the Nirmala Devi College centre in Mumbai, where this correspondent was taking the CAT. Although the lost time was eventually made up, the unwelcome interruptions created an environment of stress and reduced concentration levels for the candidates.
When this correspondent proceeded to answer question number 14 in the first section of the test and hit 'Next', the screen changed to a question which comprised a bar graph with bars of two different colours, one black and one was supposed to be grey. But the grey one was not visible at all, just a blank space in front of me. The question required a comparison of the data represented by the two bars. It seemed like a computer monitor with a malfunctioning screen, sending the contrast settings haywire.
I called the proctor and pointed out the problem. He looked puzzled, and called another proctor. The duo tried to tweak the contrast but nothing changed, so they called yet another person for help. When third person also turned the contrast button and nothing changed, they got on the phone line with somebody and while taking instructions over the phone, restarted my computer.
Despite that the problem remained --- by then there were some 36 minutes left for the first section. More than 7-8 minutes had lapsed since I came across the problem. The three proctors then asked me to sit on another terminal. Although the test started from where I left (and the colours were now alright) , the break actually took away my focus from the paper.
But that was not the end of it. In the last 35 minutes of the second section, the computer screens went blank for some 5-7 of us in the testing lab. We were logged out within seconds. Like me, most others were in the midst of answering a question. I and the others again called for the proctors who simply asked us to restart the machines. We did and finally finished the exam without any more issues.
And all this while Prometric said in its daily statement that evening, "... no major issues reported." PaGaLGuY knows for sure it happened because I was one of those who took the test that day and one of the victims too.
When PaGaLGuY asked Prometric for a response, Soumitra Roy, Managing Director, Prometric replied, "Prometric has built in excess capacity in all locations for any unforeseen technical issues that cannot be resolved by the on-site engineer within a time." He also added that, "In such cases, the candidate will be moved to another workstation and the test will resume from the point where it was left by the candidate, with no loss in testing time."
Prof Janakiraman Moorthy, convenor of CAT 2011 had similar views about the incident and said that as long as the candidates could continue with the test, it was not a major issue. Prof Moorthy urged candidates to remain calm and not panic in such situations.
Have you also encountered or witnesses such cases while taking the test?