Why are CAT results simply not emailed to candidates?

Checking your CAT results tonight could be like this. (Photo: Lingaraj GJ)

In a few hours, when the clock strikes twelve for January 11, 2012, you should be able to access the results of the Common Admissions Test (CAT) 2011 on the catiim.in website.

Candidates will be required to enter their CAT registration numbers and email addresses in order to retrieve their results, which they are advised to retain a printed copy of for future use.

“The hand-over of the results data to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) marks the close of CAT 2011,” said Soumitra Roy, Managing Director, Prometric India. “An analysis of the scores indicates that the test performed exactly as expected of a scientific, psychometrically sound, valid and fair exam,” he added. CAT 2011 was conducted over a 20-day testing window in 2011, from October 22 to November 18 in 68 test centres across 36 Indian cities.

But going by the statement released by CAT 2011 Convenor Prof Janakiraman Moorthy, do expect a slow catiim.in website that would be choked to the brim with thousands of eager IIM applicants, all looking to check their results at the same time.

The IIMs have verified the results data provided by Prometric and these have been uploaded on our secure site, and validated for accuracy, said Prof Moorthy. In anticipation of a slightly heavier traffic on the first day, candidates are advised to be patient and if they are not able to get the score-card, they may try again later.

Which begs the question: why do the IIMs or Prometric simply not email the scorecards to candidates like they do the admit cards? Why should candidates fight with a sluggish website for hours instead of simply finding their results in their inboxes?

Prof Moorthy attributed the inability to send results by email to inherent efficiencies of mass emailing. “The IIMs provide results to CAT candidates in this manner (through the website) to offer them the flexibility of retrieving their results in their own time without the need to rely on erratic email servers. Sending more than 1.85 lakh result files by email requires a significant amount of time for every single email to be delivered vis-a-vis email delivery of admit cards, which go out in batches as and when the candidates register. This could cause anxiety for candidates who receive their results several hours later after their friends. There is also an added security risk of spam.”

In PaGaLGuY’s own experience of sending email newsletters to its userbase, it takes approximately an entire day to send email to two lakh people using an automated system. As Prof Moorthy correctly points out, there would be anxiety caused among those who get their results in the later part of the process. There is also the chance that the result might land in your junk mail folder.

Notwithstanding the problems in mass emailing, sending results on email would still work for a sizeable section of the CAT candidate base, and that would reduce traffic on the catiim.in website because all those who have seen their results on email will have mercy on the already-under-pressure CAT servers.

The IIMs could also release the CAT results in a planned manner, wherein they announce beforehand the set of candidates who would receive their results on email in the first round, then the second round, and so on so that candidates know when they would get their result through email. Anxiety is often caused not because of waiting, but by not being able to predict how a system is going to work.

Publishing results on a website, however, is old school and simulates the real world scenario of results being pasted on a wall and a crowd of people pushing each other to take a look at it. It’s chaotic and candidate unfriendly.