The CAT on the prowl again, even as selection criteria’ and normalisation remain a mystery

A little more than 24 hours to go and CAT Phailin is expected to hit some 1.96 lakh aspirants. Time to seek last-minute tips that never help, rush with Mocks and panic on the eve of the exam day.

Prometric, as usual has assured a ‘technical-glitch-free’ season and it better deliver since it is its last tango with CAT (Common Admission Test). IIM authorities want to deliver a ‘smooth exam experience’ after last year when students had to hastily bus it out to non-scheduled centres when the original ones collapsed.

There is little new this year except that the IIM officials as well as Prometric want to publish a paper on the CAT site explaining normalisation. This, I am told, will happen soon. The last CAT Convenor also promised and we are still awaiting the document. Apparently, this document is getting ready but the CAT Convenor is quite involved in settling the 80 scores tampered puzzle.

The other fresh development is that PWD candidates for the first time can use scribes who are ‘more educated’ than them. This is after the government realised that if scribes are not as educated as the candidates, they are probably not in a position to explains ‘questions’ properly to the candidates.

The CAT Convenor also tried to answer the questions that CAT takers asked on our forums. About why the questions are not released after the exam, Prof Rohit Kapoor of IIM Indore said: “There are 40 different exam papers prepared from a huge bank of questions. If we keep releasing questions, what happens to the bank?,” he asked.

About why there is no GK in the CAT exam, Prof Kapoor said that the GK part is handled in the interviews taken by the institutes.

The case of 80 impostors has tarnished the image of CAT, once said to be the mightiest of entrance exams. That someone could actually fiddle with results right under the eyes of CAT authorities is no joke. And that is required an anonymous email to tell officials is even worse. Not to mention the police which is working at snail’s pace on this case.

But it all falls in place. The IIMs, being government-backed work in extreme secrecy. Normalisation, selection procedures will always be the best kept secrets of the IIMs and other top b-schools. Till today, neither has anyone made sense of the way marks are allotted nor the fact that the IIMs are themselves, increasingly giving giving less importance to CAT scores.

That some schools alter selection criteria to include more women and fewer engineers is also not the most fair way out. That the economy has slowed down and jobs are difficult to come by is a fact universally admitted by financial experts but not b-school placement reports.

And after all this, the CAT frenzy is again set to take-off from October 16.

And yes, Prof Kapoor has wished everybody: “Happy Exams.”

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