(Photo: Zack Klein)
Candidates scheduled to appear for the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) this year appear perturbed with test centers allocated at far-off places and the paraphernalia-gathering required ahead of the test. They feel that the test centers could have been allotted in closer vicinities of their homes and that the requirement of getting one's admit card attested by a gazetted officer is an unnecessary hassle.
PaGaLGuY spoke to a few CMAT applicants post-issuance of admit cards, who aired their opinions about the problems they were facing in the run-up to the test.
Mumbai's Siddharth Shah, who will be appearing for CMAT this year, feels that the test's custodian All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) should have been more considerate of the candidates. "I stay at Ville Parle in Mumbai, while the exam center allotted to me is in Kharghar (Navi Mumbai). As the reporting time for the exam is 8 am, I will have to leave home almost three hours in advance," he points out.
He also adds that the reporting time detail is ambiguous in the admit card as it only says that latecomers will not be allowed to take the exam, whereas most other tests usually mention a time cushion, such as 45 minutes or an hour before the exam commences as the maximum permissible limit for entering the exam center.
AICTE has also asked that candidates get their admit cards attested by gazetted officers, which is making test takers wonder what special needs does CMAT have that other entrance tests do not.
"Attestation of the admit card and the class 10th marksheet by a gazetted officer is in my opinion not required. No other entrance exam requires attestation of the admit card and besides it adds to the inconvenience," he says.
Sumanth Shindgi, software professional working at Accenture in Bangalore isn't happy with the center allocated to him. "It will take me around one and a half to two hours in the city's notorious traffic to reach the exam center at Yelahanka from Jayanagar (the place where he stays). The inaccessibility of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (which is the exam center in Yelahanka) add to the woes as it is located in the interiors," he says.
Based on what he has found using Google Maps, Sumanth said that he would have to use a combination of the Bangalore airport bus service and auto rickshaws as normal city transport buses would take circuitous routes and hence, more time.
"The attestation of the admit card is a problematic process as we are having to run after gazetted officers for it. Besides, the attestation of the class X marksheet for the verification of the name makes no sense, as that could have been achieved through documents such as the PAN card, passport or driver's license," he said.
"Things have not been managed properly by the AICTE this year. Initially, it had notified that the admit cards would be issued on January 30, 2012, which was later postponed to 8 am on February 5, 2012. Then, it enabled the mechanism to download one's admit card a day before," he says, describing the confusion that followed. "To top it all, when I called up the CMAT helpline number and requested them for a change in venue, the person who answered the call was oblivious to the fact that the admit card had been issued a day before," he informed.
"Around February 8, I received a mail attached with my admit card, but with the same center," he added.
Srikkant Kulkarni, working as an engineer at GL Communication, Bangalore, feels that allocation of locations is the area where AICTE has made the biggest blunder. "It will take me approximately three hours to reach the exam center at Yellahanka from Jayanagar," he says. The AICTE had allowed candidates to enter three preferred test cities in the application form, and not centers. Candidates had expected that the AICTE would take into account addresses while allocating centers.
Srikkant, who has not yet attested his documents feels that the government officers are going to charge for the same, unless they know the individual on a personal level. Sandeep Katakol, software professional, Accenture Pune, is finding it difficult to get his admit card and class 10th marksheet attested. "Time is the biggest constraint for me as I can only chase the gazetted officers on weekends," he says.
PaGaLGuY also spoke to AICTE to gain their perspective of the issue. "We do not feel there is any ambiguity in the situation. In fact, there is a CMAT helpline, which is there to redress the problems of the candidates," said an official at AICTE, Mumbai office.
With regard to the controversy regarding locations and attestation, AICTE maintains that locations have been identified keeping in mind the majority of students appearing from that particular place/zone. "As far as distances in Mumbai are concerned, most people here are used to that kind commuting," the official said.
"The attestation of documents is to ensure that impersonation and inaccuracies do not occur. How can attesting one's documents from either a gazetted officer or the director or dean of the institution they had last studied at be an issue with students?" he questioned.
AICTE is of the opinion that there is perfect synchronisation in the entire process and that minor issues are being blown out of proportion. However, the official refused to comment as to why CMAT required attestation of the admit cards in the first place when most other entrance exams had no such requirements.