(Photo credit: TheGiantVermin)
Registrations for the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2011 test date and centre closed on the midnight of October 4. But by late evening leading up to the deadline, there were visibly no takers for some test-slots. Based on our observation of centre availability on the registration website on the evening of October 4, it was clear that test dates October 24 and 25 had been shunned by most candidates. The Dhanteras and Kali Chaudas festivals fall on these Diwali-eve dates. November 3, a Thursday, was also not chosen in cities such as Mohali, Shillong, Siliguri and Bangalore. There seemed to be no apparent reason for this pattern though. Prometric did not divulge the slot occupation patterns of CAT 2011 upon our asking.
CAT 2011 will be held over 20 days in the period between October 22 and November 18.
Candidates choosing dates in the latter part of the exam window is not uncommon as the later dates help them gauge the pattern of the test from friends, media reports and online networks. The new two-section pattern of the test is especially expected to turn the test-takers more cautious. Arun Sharma, author of books on CAT prep explains, "Candidates might want to delay taking the test by a couple of days (after the first day) to get a preview of the new pattern and not be the first ones to react to it." Sharma also encourages students to take the test according to their level of preparation and convenience. "If somebody has started their preparations late, then the 20-day period can be helpful for them," added Sharma. Prerna Bajaj, a third year B.Com student at JD Birla College in Kolkata has chosen a test slot on November 8. She was advised by her mentors at her CAT coaching institute to avoid the first week as well as the weekends. Most of my friends are taking the CAT either in the first week or the last week, she said. Our coaching centre guides have told us to avoid the weekend as there could be a rush and therefore the chance of tougher competition.
The test centres at Chandigarh and Jaipur show the same dates that candidates did not choose
Professor Janakiraman Moorthy, convenor of CAT 2011, brushes off these fears of the test-takers. Yes, there might be more of a rush on the weekends because many working professionals choose those dates, but that the test will be tougher is just speculation, he said.
Mounting anxiety around the test is also making CAT candidates do strange things. Prof Moorthy informed PaGaLGuY that some candidates who had chosen Prometric's Gurgaon centre turned up at the test centre yesterday, October 4, for taking the CAT. The actual date they had chosen was November 4. "Candidates should not pressurise themselves so much," Moorthy commented.
On the other hand many candidates book themselves to take the test on the first day of the 20-day window, so that they can exhale the pressure out as early as possible. Rinkesh Yadav is one of the candidates to have taken the CAT on the very first day back in 2010. Today, he is a student of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta and had been shortlisted by all the IIMs except Ahmedabad and Bangalore. I took CAT on the first day because I was confident and did not want to undergo the stress of speculating how the test was for others, said Yadav. But those who feel that they will not be affected by that kind of stress will perform equally well on any given day.