There is a blaring mistake in the online registration process of CAT 2009 that might, in the worst case, lay waste your Rs 1,400 voucher and make you buy a new voucher and re-register. However, there is no need to panic; according to Prof Satish Deodhar from IIM-Ahmedabad, the IIMs are in talks with Prometric and a final solution to the problem will be declared by tomorrow evening.
Update: IIMs and Prometric clarify on all problems. Read clarification.
Even though the IIMs require you to enter your HSC and SSC scores as admission criteria, the CAT online registration process that opened up on September 9 will not throw up an error if you forget to enter those scores in the Educational Qualifications section of the form. The system will happily complete your registration process and send you an admit card, even though you did not enter this vital information. Eventually your CAT score, however good, will be of no use because the IIMs need your HSC and SSC scores during GD shortlisting, which would have been absent from your profile, leading to automatic disqualification from the IIMs.
Why are we saying that you may forget to enter your HSC and SSC scores? It is because the user interface of the online registration system is not designed to place stress on this important step. On the first day of the registration, a lot of CAT aspirants on PaGaLGuY have reported forgetting to enter their school-level scores. All these users thought that they had to enter their highest educational qualification in the section of concern, and not all educational qualifications. The system does not allow one to go back and enter these scores again.
If you have not filled the CAT online form yet, this article is a heads-up for caution. Make sure you do not make this mistake.
If you have filled the CAT online form and have made this mistake, all may not be lost yet. According to CAT 2009 Convenor Prof Satish Deodhar, talks are on with Prometric and a possible solution would be announced by tomorrow. So in case you were planning to rush to buy another voucher, hold it and wait for what they have to say.
I'd like to add a remark here. To be fair to Prometric+IIMs, the system does say 'Select all that apply' in educational qualification section, implying that one has to click all educational milestones in their life and enter the respective scores. However, from a Human-Computer Interaction or Interaction Design point of view, this is very bad design. Human behaviour with computers is a separate science altogether and plays by its own rules. On a paper-based form, the IIMs can get away with putting stern rules and punishing those who do not abide by them. But what works on paper does not work on computers. I wonder if Prometric ran rigorous usability tests on this form, because if they had done it with a sufficient number of users, this error in the user interface would have exposed itself.
Furthermore, if the eligibility for a management degree includes having passed HSC and SSC, the CAT 2009 online application form should not allow submission until these fields are completed.
Added later: Here are two features that ought to have been in the user interface:
- Error-checking before submission: If the candidate hasn't completed fields that form the minimum eligibility criteria of the IIMs, he shouldn't be allowed to submit the form.
- Review details page before form submission: Show a summary of all information entered by the candidate before making the final submission. Allow editing at summary level. This will allow people to realize any mistakes or omissions they might have made and let them correct them.
The following pictures will explain the problem better.
The educational qualifications section in CAT 2009 online registration might make you assume that you have to enter only your highest/latest qualification (below).
Instead, what you should do is first check all educational levels that you have, and then enter scores for each level (below).
In case you forget to enter these details, you will not be allowed to enter them later.