AICTE working overtime to launch its own MBA entrance test CMAT in February 2012

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The first version of the MBA entrance exam launched by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is scheduled to be held in February 2012. Called the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT), it is little more than two months away and there is already hectic work in progress at the AICTE headquarters in New Delhi as well as at its branch offices in various states.

Pilot testing of the CMAT has already begun and the final avatar of the exam could be frozen anytime before December 31, 2011. That would leave just enough time for applicants to become familiar with the exam. Select agencies are inspecting the exam for its technical validity and paper pattern. While the exact pattern of the paper has not been revealed yet, sources at the AICTE said that it would be similar to the Common Admission Test (CAT) paper. Apparently, rigorous checking is on to make sure that the CMAT does not suffer from technical problems of the kind that the CAT suffered in 2009.

Unlike in the CAT, CMAT applicants will be spared the trouble of standing in long queues outside banks for buying vouchers. For CMAT, everything will be online. Candidates will not only have to register online but also pay the fees online within the time period provided, an official from the AICTE said.

The price of taking the CMAT will also be considerably lower than that of the CAT, though the exact figure has not yet been decided. A core committee of six people chosen by the Executive Council of the AICTE is currently working on chalking out a list of test centres where the CMAT would be held.

The official further added that while the CMAT may seem just like another MBA entrance exam for the time being, it will eventually become a standard test. The AICTE was working to brief b-schools about the test, said the official.

Justifying the importance of the exam, he said that even if a candidate scored badly in the CAT, a good score in CMAT would land him at a good b-school. Since the exam is being held by the AICTE, all affiliated b-schools will treat the CMAT scores as important,” the official assured.

This is the first time that AICTE is jumping into the entrance exam business. The move comes in the wake of the Supreme Court order which directed AICTE to conduct its own exam if it was not convinced with the value of the existing crop of entrance exams used by AICTE-affiliated b-schools.

The CMAT already has its skeptics. Dr H Chaturvedi, Director of the AICTE-affiliated Greater Noida-based Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) who also heads the consortium of b-schools that took the AICTE to the apex court opposed the idea calling it a self-contradictory move by the AICTE. “The AICTE’s initial notification was meant to cut the total number of MBA entrance tests from five to two but after the Supreme Court’s verdict, they themselves are coming up with another test, he quipped.

Mr Chaturvedi further said that there were already plenty of entrance tests for candidates to choose from and therefore the CMAT could only be a moneymaking venture for the AICTE.

I doubt the capability of AICTE to conduct a computer-based test at a national level because it will require sound technological infrastructure which it currently lacks. They will eventually have to outsource the exam, he predicted.

He played down the AICTE’s previous statements to the media that the CMAT would be the only entrance exam for PGDM programmes from 2013 onwards calling them illogical, illegal and unwarranted given that the case was still in court.