IIMs plan mock CAT before the real thing

IIMs plan mock CAT before the real thing

New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will run online practice exams for nearly a month before the common admission test (CAT) after the first such test, conducted last year, encountered significant glitches.

The IIMs and their US-based partner Prometric Inc., which conducts the tests, are uploading several preparatory videos on their dedicated website and on YouTube.

There are nearly 3,000 seats available in the next academic year in 10 IIMs located at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Shillong, Ranchi, Rohtak and Raipur. CAT will be conducted in 33 cities starting late October.

“We have learnt the lessons from last year and this year we are focusing a lot on mock tests. Within the next two weeks, we will upload CAT practice test for aspirants," said Soumitra Roy, managing director of Prometric India. “It will be similar to the real CAT test in pattern, but not identical."

There will be also a tutorial section on how to navigate CAT that has been designed along with the IIMs, he added.

When CAT went online last year, thousands of aspirants were hit by lack of practice, little knowledge about the navigational buttons and technical glitches. Nearly 17,000 students retook the test resulting in bad publicity and protests by students; this also delayed the declaration of results by at least three weeks.

“We are guaranteeing that we will test all the candidates within the testing window. The practice test that we are offering will prepare students to face the entrance with much ease," Roy said. “As we have already said, the testing window this year has been increased to 20 days instead of 10 days last year. We will also accommodate students rescheduling exam dates in case of (an) emergency situation."

The IIMs and Prometric are training around 3,000 people for the smooth conduct of the test that begins on 27 October and ends on 24 November— with 20 test days, accounting for holidays such as Diwali that fall in-between.

The demonstrations will help those appearing for the exam to be better prepared.

“The beginning of online CAT (last year) was a bad experience. We are pre-empting everything that could go wrong during the real-time entrance," said Himanshu Rai, convenor of CAT-2010. “The demo test that we will put up will help students know how the CAT screen will look like—how they can navigate, how to review their answers."

Rai, a professor of IIM-Lucknow which is overseeing CAT this year, said students should not dwell on last year’s experience. “The second leg of last year’s test was fine. We are trying to give as much information as possible to aspirants so that they are ready to face the test without any doubt about the format," he said.

Those planning to take the test welcomed the practice sessions.

“A demo test will help aspirants simply because we cannot take chances. This will familiarize students like me to know what the test will look like and how to navigate it," said Sunil Mishra, an IIM aspirant from Bhubaneswar.

IIM authorities said all relevant information, including how to register and mark answers, will be provided through the videos, seven of which have already been uploaded. The demo test will only be available on the CAT and Prometric websites.

Roy of Prometric said a student can repeat the demo test any number of times. An aspirant can even take the tutorial at the time of the exam, which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, he said.

Prometric, which says it has put contingency plans in place, will take control of the 247 test labs for 45 days, including the test window.

“We and our partners will completely sanitize the labs to avoid technical glitches," Roy said. “We will run tests to see how it’s progressing."

In the last two weeks, over 130,000 students have registered for the exam. Registrations will continue till 30 September. Last year, 242,000 registered for the exam.