Should CAT applicants be computer-groomed?

A right to information (RTI) query by an activist in Andhra Pradesh has revealed that both, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) and Prometric were supposed to ‘ensure inclusive transition to take care of low-skilled computer applicants.’ This was one of the crucial points discussed at a meeting between IIMA and Prometric before the online version of the CAT exam got kick-started in 2009.

Over the last two years, little has been done in this regard.

This will be the third year that the online version of CAT will go on the floors. While the first online CAT exam in 2009 was packed with glitches, the 2010 exams went more smoothly. Except for issues such as ‘normalisation’ due to which quite a few aspirants felt they found themselves on the wrong side of a good percentile, there were almost no technical problems.

PaGaLGuY asked Prometric for a response to this issue but none came by. Even IIMA did not respond to our query.

CAT 2010 Convenor Prof Himanshu Rai said that he was not aware of any such discussion held prior to the exam going online. He said that there is actually no need to be computer savvy to attempt CAT online. You dont need knowledge about computers to take the exam. There is definitely no disadvantage to a person who may have worked little with computers. It is the question of pressing the right buttons.

Prof Rai added that presently, there is no movement on part of the IIMs to conduct any programmes for computer-illiterate aspirants.

CAT Convenor for 2011, Prof Janakiraman Moorthy, also said that those not computer-savvy do not lose out in online CAT. Students who are taking CAT are graduates. Even if they are from the Arts stream, they are exposed to computers. Students in schools are comfortable with computers today, so there is little chance that those taking CAT have not worked on computers at all.

Prof Moorthy further said that the CAT online exam only requires knowledge of navigation skills and the ability to click at the right place. There are no online calculations or complicated requirements. And this year too, we will have a demo about how the exam will look and that should make it easy as well, the CAT Convenor explained.

Students were divided over whether Prometric and the IIM should have initiated a learning process for those not well-versed with computers. Neha Sharma, a second year student of ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad said that the process is a little difficult if one is not at ease with computers. A little familiarity helps since one can work faster, she said.

Neha took the exam in 2009 when the exam was plagued with problems. When a computer screen turns blank or the connection goes off during an online exam, everybody panics, whether he is good with computers or not. The atmosphere is so charged that everyone feels the stress.

Divya Vuppala, a first year student from IMT Hyderabad said that the CAT online exam is easy and all it requires is one practise session. One has to just learn to get familiar with the screen and how to use the mouse. Once that is done, there is no problem giving CAT online.

Some other students who have taken CAT over last two years said that yes, sometimes those from small towns take a while to get easy with the computer screen. I have seen students a little uneasy about using the computer. Mocks help a person to ease up to the online exam but not all get a chance to go to a proper coaching centre, said a student.

Rakesh Kumar Dubbudu, who filed the RTI said that it is sad that institutes of such repute have not taken efforts to make sure there is a level playing field for the disadvantaged sections. “Inspite of their stated objective of inclusive transition,

there have been no efforts in the last 2 years in this direction,” he added.