Are IIM Directors contemplating a paper-based retest? They should!

According to a report in The Telegraph, Calcutta, the Directors of IIMs are considering scrapping this year’s online CAT and save face with a paper-based retest.

The story built on an anonymous IIM Director’s version reports that all IIM Directors except one are okay in principle with the proposal. As of now, no other source has confirmed the report and the report conflicts with the CAT Convenor’s Monday statement that the computer-based test would continue. I quote from The Telegraph story:

“But IIM officials are arguing that their biggest fear revolves around questions that are already being raised about the standard of candidates picked through a selection process under criticism for its lack of uniformity.

Several candidates who could take the computerised test have complained that their computers ran slower than those of other competing candidates, placing them at a disadvantage in the timed test.”

Full report here.

The computer-based exam has clearly been a huge embarrassment for the IIMs and has cast widespread cynicism about their own ability to manage and execute projects, given that they train thousands to do so and claim to be among the best in the world at it.

The CAT 2009 needs to be held again. Not so much for the virus attacks (a claim which seems extremely dubious, as both Nimda and Conflicker are old worms and ANY anti-virus system can detect them) or the delays in starting the tests, but for the fact that this test has not been a fair platform even among those who have been able to take it ‘successfully’. Take a look at this document compiled by PaGaLGuY, listing detailed problems faced by over a hundred test-takers across the country, for whom tests have not been rescheduled (to inform us of your problems, please fill this form). Summarizing them below:

  • Screens going blank in between the test
  • Reboots and ‘svchost.exe’ errors
  • Noise and commotion caused in the lab due to the above
  • People in some labs getting extra time to solve questions while the above problems were being rectified
  • Some features of the testing software (review button, display of questions) not working as intended on some computers
  • Questions being leaked in various private channels. While moderated channels like PaGaLGuY are leaving no stoned unturned in respecting the non-disclosure clause, several other unmoderated social networks such as Orkut have communities dedicated to question sharing. Given that there are reports of questions being repeated, it obviously puts test-takers on each subsequent day at an advantage in the competition.
  • Inconsistent quality of invigilation

Even if the computer-based test were to complete its 10 days, would the IIMs be able to say without doubt that they indeed have the best of the lot in their classes of 2012 through a fair process? Have candidates invested Rs 1,400 and months of hard work into a system where the first prerequisite to success is the fortune of being allocated a relatively good testing lab, something over which they have no control? Wouldn’t it be better to allocate IIM seats on a draw of lots rather than use a dubious and expensive testing system such as this?

The IIM Directors ought to take the proposal of a paper-based retest this year to fruition.

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