Numerous entrance exams only increase a candidate’s admission probability, says ATMA chief

Pic from David Feltkamp’s photostream

The Association of Indian Management Schools, which is the largest body of b-schools in India, has no plans of discontinuing ATMA its own management entrance exam. Unlike the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) which is contemplating closing down not too far in the future knowing that eventually there will be only one entrance test, ATMA will strive to survive.

Speaking to PaGaLGuy.com, Dr Apoorva Palkar ATMA 2012 Chairperson and Director, Singhad Institute of Management and Computer Applications said that there is no move to do away with ATMA. In fact ATMA is one of the five entrance exams that Supreme Court permitted via its order last year.

It may be recalled that various b-schools had dragged the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to court last year after the latter produced a notification urging for only one common entrance exam. The apex court in its order directed that while AICTE is free to conduct its own entrance exam, the five common entrance exams – CAT (The Common Admission Test) XAT (XLRI Admission Test), MAT (Management Aptitude Test) , ATMA (AIMS Test for Management Admission) and (earlier) Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET).

But why burden candidates with one more exam the move to have one exam actually work in favour of the students?

Multiple entrance exams work well with the Indian student population. In India, people often sleep over things and wake up at the last minute. What would happen if there is only one exam and the student could not make it to that one exam. Now, those who miss out on one exam have a chance at another.. With so many institutes accepting more than one entrance exam score, the probability of gaining admission is higher, answered Dr Palkar.

More than 100 institutes accept ATMA scores while AIMS has 600 members affiliated to it. Ironically, some of its members (like XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur and some of the Indian Institutes of Management) do not accept ATMA scores.

Last year, incidentally, only about 10,000 students took the ATMA exam, making the case for closing down ATMA even stronger. Dr Palkar answered that the year before the figure was 30,000, so the number of students cannot be taken as a factor. To increase its attractiveness, ATMA this year will be conducted online as well as in its traditional paper-pencil format.

ATMA will be held five times in the year 2012. The first paper-pencil exam will be held on Sunday, February 12, 2012. The next, which will be online will be on April 29, June 2, July 29 and August 19, 2012. The registration process for the same started on November 22, 2011 and will end on January 27, 2012.

When asked for reasons for going online, considering that the Indian MBA-aspirant population is yet to come to grips with issues like normalisation and psychometrics, Dr Palkar answered that world over exams are online and the process of scoring has been accepted by everybody, so it is a matter of time before it will settle in India.

Besides, the paper-pencil tests are still a matter of priority with the non-urban population.

The ATMA test pattern continues to be the same like last year – 170 questions spread over six sections each section timed separately. The duration of the entire test which covers questions on Analytical Reasoning Skills, Quantitative Skills and Verbal Skills will be three hours.

Speaking on COME (Consortium of Management Education) and why it failed to take off last year Dr Palkar said that the work for the same began too late in the day. We lost 4-5 months due to the court process, by then the academic year had also started so things did not go as anticipated. There was too much of a delay. COME, a collaboration of 52 Business schools in Maharashtra, and headed by Dr Palkar had pushed for a Central Admission Process. However, the absence of big names among the institutes, the gesture failed to impress.

When asked whether a similar effort will be carried out this year, Dr Palkar replied in the negative.

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