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India – IIMs to stick with online CAT, plan re-test in mid-Jan

NEW DELHI: Despite a demand by HRD secretary Vibha Puri Das to IIM directors to explain the causes of disruption of online CAT and steps taken to

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remove the problems, IIMs have decided to go ahead with the online test.

“IIMs have decided to continue with computer-based test for 2009. We also look forward to continue CAT through computer-based testing in future,” Samir Barua, director, IIM-Ahmedabad, said.

Claiming that 96% of students took online CAT successfully, IIMs have decided to organise another online test in mid-January 2010 for nearly 8,000 students who could not take the test due to technical failure. However, Satish Deodhar, convenor, CAT, said a process will be put in place to identify students who can take the test again. But he said the `process’ was not identified yet.

After the meeting with Das, IIM directors — Barua of Ahmedabad and Pankaj Chandra of Bangalore — played down technical problems and refused to find fault with Prometric, the firm that conducted CAT. They even denied that a section of IIM faculty wanted paper-pencil test after the failure. Barua only said, “The focus of IIMs is to complete the test in a fair manner. But the entire test will be reviewed to ensure that such problems do not occur in future.”

Giving a detailed analysis of eight-day online test that ran from November 27 to December 8, Deodhar said, “It is indeed our regret that a number of candidates faced difficulties during this test window and the execution of the exam has not been flawless.” About 24,000 students — a percentage similar to in previous years — did not show up for the test at the first instance, he said. Another 2,000 candidates, who were rescheduled from the first testing window, remain to be tested, Deodhar said.

There was divergence of views within the IIMs whether to scrap the computer-based system for this year. Prometric presented detailed data to the IIM directors on Sunday, explaining the nature of problems faced by students. “After analysing the fresh data, we now know the nature and extent of the problem. We are convinced the test has been done in a fair manner,” Baruah said. Based on data, feedback from students, site and audit reports, the CAT committee said the problems faced by students included complaints of premature exit through the Exit/End button, slowness of computers while reviewing and refreshing questions, rebooting of computers and disruptions, missing graphics and data.

Deodhar said, “About 500 students faced the situation of premature exit through use of exit/end button.” On allegations that questions were repeated, he said IIMs had developed a large number of questions with equal difficulty level.

Baruah said adequate precaution was taken before going ahead with the computerised test. Mock tests were conducted involving 500 dummy students. “But despite all precautions something goes wrong sometimes. CAT 2009 is a typical example of that,” he said. The faculty association of certain IIMs, including IIM-Bangalore, had supported scrapping of the computer-based test in view of the technical problems. But the directors analysed the data, including the log records and video footages. The analysis gave the evidence to go ahead with the testing. Asked whether the academic schedule would be affected as a fresh test would be conducted for the affected students in January, Chandra replied in the negative. “We have target to get our students by June or July. We will be able to do that,” he said.

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December 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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