(L-R): Prometric MD Soumitra Roy, CAT Convenor Prof Himanshu Rai and IIM Lucknow Director Prof Devi Singh at a press conference in New Delhi to mark the end of CAT 2010
The Common Admissions Test (CAT) 2010 completed its 20-day run on November 24, 2010, paving the way for the results which shall be declared on January 12, 2011.
A total of 204,267 candidates had registered for the computer-based test which was held across 78 centers in 33 cities using 246 testing labs and 9,000+ computers. No technical snags or glitches were reported during the testing window that began on October 27 and ended November 24.
"All the testing sites were taken over by us on October 10, two weeks in advance of the test. This time we took care to include only those venues which met our stringent demands and specifications in terms of infrastructure quality and network capacity," said CAT 2010 Convenor and IIM Lucknow Professor Himanshu Rai at a press conference organized by CAT's testing agency Prometric in New Delhi.
Almost immediately, Prof Rai also announced that in the coming years candidates will be able to take the CAT any time of the year.
"We have to get to a stage where the CAT is available to candidates throughout the year. That is indeed the way forward. For this we will have to move away from the linear fixed form method of testing we are using now to linear on-the-fly testing based on item response theory," he said.
The biggest implication of this change is that the CAT would turn into a dynamic test. Each candidate will get a dynamically generated CAT question paper with pre-psychometrically tested questions. The second-biggest implication is that the results of the test will be available immediately after the candidate ends the exam, unlike the two-month wait for CAT results in the existing system.
"We need to gather a critical number of psychometrically tested questions before we go perennial," he added.
"While this full change to the adaptive system may happen only by CAT 2012, CAT 2011 could be held as a partial linear on-the-fly test. Such a test would be something in between a fixed-paper test and a fully adaptive test. For the candidates, it will mean quicker results," Prof Rai explained while adding the disclaimer that the final decision about the testing system of CAT 2011 lay in the hands of next year's CAT Committee.
IIM Lucknow Director and member of the CAT 2010 Committee Prof Devi Singh hinted at the formation of an independent body under the tutelage of the IIMs that will look after the CAT fulltime."We want to hand over the CAT to an independent organization which will be part of the IIM system, either as a separate company or a society. We dont want to burden the faculty with this responsibility (of looking after the CAT) throughout the year," he said. The company thus formed will coordinate with Prometric to get the CAT executed. IIM Bangalore Director Prof Pankaj Chandra had already initiated the process to set up such a body, Prof Singh added.
Now that the computer-based CAT has had a successful run, the IIMs also plan to take the bold step of holding the exam in countries outside India and positioning the CAT as an alternative to the GMAT in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, South East Asia and Middle East.
"CAT has to be taken across frontiers, we have to go offshore. Formal meetings with Sri Lankan b-schools have already started on this front. Apart from increasing the reach of the CAT, going abroad will also expose us to the best global practices," Prof Rai said.
Apart from announcing these changes, The CAT Convenor also said that the CAT 2011 vouchers will be sold on the web through online payment systems next year. "The 90-minute waiting time before the beginning of the test will also be reduced considerably," he added.
(With inputs from Neha Seth in New Delhi)