Open Letter: Part 1 of 2

Owing to PagalGuy’s policy of not publishing articles longer than 500 words, this is being published in 2 parts.

With the declaration of CAT 2013 results, and my gradual discovery that a percentile in the range of 98 in the exam, had, at the time of going to press, secured me ZERO calls, I was feeling resentful and dejected. And I sure wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

Like many others, I blamed the “diversity” criteria for my failure to secure a call. I regarded as unfair a selection process that was skewed to give out points gratis to persons who happened to be non-engineers, female, or both, and deny the same to those guilty of not falling under any of the above heads (the selection criteria documents were silent on candidates who defy the traditional male-female classification, which is somewhat regressive in today’s liberated environment. I mean, even the election commission mentions “male/female/others” in its “application for inclusion of name in electoral roll”.)

I knew several others who felt they had been cheated by normalization, the secret formula that Prometric (the private American company that conducts the CAT) uses to “adjust” our actual test scores in an effort “to confirm the validity of the examination scores and to ensure that every candidate was provided a fair and equal opportunity to display their knowledge”, “so that the scores may be used interchangeably.” A significant proportion of candidate surveyed by this author have had the thoughts “What?” and “What!” pass through their minds (in that order) after reading (and re-reading) Prometric’s explanation of the “CAT 2013 Development, Scoring & Equating Process.”

The nation’s candidates have also scratched their collective heads trying to understand why such a convoluted & secretive mechanism was required to obtain “mutually interchangeable scores” (mutually comparable, I think they mean, although I’d be happy to interchange my scores with any of the hundred percentilers.) As far as any of us knows, the single-day single-slot paper-pencil test format has also reliably produced “mutually interchangeable” (comparable) scores, without the involvement of an American computer-based-testing company, a top-secret normalization and scaling formula, dozens of computer labs and 20 days of testing.

So it was with a vexed mind that I opened my browser to seek out fellow failures and wallow in our collective emotion, when I came across Prometric’s statement (as reported by which contained the following statements, which completely changed my mind:

“…only the best performing test takers earned the highest scores.”

“As a provider of testing and assessment for more than 350 organizations around the world, we have experienced this in prior years as well.”

“Prometric remains committed to ensuring fairness and reliability to best serve honest candidates seeking to accomplish their education and career goals.”

I now understood that….

Read the rest in Part 2