CAT voucher sale and registration deadlines extended by a week; Signs of falling interest in the CAT?

The longer testing window seems to also have inspired a longer registration window for CAT 2010. The CAT Committee has decided to advance the final registration deadlines for CAT 2010 by one week. Vouchers will now be on sale at Axis Bank branches until October 4, while candidates can now register for the test till October 7, which is only 20 days before the actual test begins.

The registration date has been advanced by the CAT Committee for the second year in a row now. The reason was evident last year, as the number of candidates who registered had dipped from 2.7 lakhs in 2008 to 2.4 lakhs in 2009. This move of extending registration indicates that the number or takers for the CAT may be falling. In a press conference only a week ago, a Prometric official had mentioned that close to 1.75 lakh candidates had already registered and they were hoping that it will increase and reach the same number of candidates that had registered last year.

When PaGaLGuY contacted the CAT Convener, professor Himanshu Rai, he confirmed the advancement of the registration date. He said, We received requests from many candidates who had last minute queries or had not been able to register as yet. So we decided to defer the date of registering and advance it by a week.”

In its second year, feedback about the CAT registration website has been good. Candidates who are registering for the test for the second time this year have felt the difference and have had a fairly smooth experience of registering online. The website is a more self explanatory and user-friendly, as claimed by Prometric.

Last year, the IIMs had attributed falling CAT numbers to the recession. If we are to see a further reduction in CAT candidates this year, the reasons may be deeper and manifold. The exam in its computer-based format could indeed be inaccessible to candidates from rural areas or tier-3 towns. The test costs more than the paper-pencil test and preparation for it has become costlier. Some even attribute the general falling interest in CAT to increased opportunities in government jobs, such as the ones opened by increased vacancies in Bank PO exams in a few states of North India.

The number of candidates taking the CAT may dip, but it being the only way to get into the premium b-schools of the country, the candidates seriously aiming for the Indian Institutes of Management may remain or even increase by the year. It may just be the hangers-on who are deserting the ship.

The final story will only be clear when the final number of candidates that have registered for the test are declared after October 7. If they do reduce, the only thing to be happy about is that this year there will be a little less competition than the year before and stepping into your dream institute might be a little easier.

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