Saturday, December 5, 2009

CAT 2009: A Tasty Dish gone Stale

A lot has been made of the technical glitches in the CAT,2009, of the students who could not appear for the test on a given day.I however, think that there is more to CAT,2009 than just the technical glitches.
I believe that IIMs will ensure that everyone eligible appears for the test though on a different date. And some technical issues were to be expected. Afterall, it was first such exercise, where such a large number of candidates appeared for a test on a given day. Not even the best of test taking agencies could have guaranteed a hassle free CAT.
So lets bear with it, the technical aspect. Hopefully, next year onwards it will be much more smoother than this. My concern lies somewhere else, on the test pattern,their contents and the motives behind them.

When IIMs announced a reduction in number of questions with no such cut in the time allotted, everyone expected the questions to be of a quality atleast at par with a level similar to previous years.Cometh the 27th November, and the mysterious CAT surprises everyone with its turns.The questions turned out to be much easier than expected and add to that the repeated questions from previous years,it was even more.I have heard many candidates attempting even all the 60.Though there have been such instances where questions were much tougher,but they can be discounted as exceptions only. On a broad level,everyone agrees that questions were easier and the percentage of attempted questions has been much higher than previous years.What does that mean for students and for IIMs?

For students it means that many more students are going to clear the sectional and overall cutoffs and even if someone clears all the cutoffs they cant be sure of calls.For IIMs, it means that they have a much larger pool of qualified candidates to choose from for the calls.Probably, here comes in the picture,additional factors which all of a sudden have assumed disproportionately high importance because written exam is no more the distinguishing criteria among applicants. These factors are your work-ex, 10th-12th Marks, and Undergrad Academics. This changed scenario also serves a dual purpose for IIMs which are :

1. They are no more going to be answerable as to why someone who has cleared all the cutoffs and blah blah was not given a call. They can hand pick candidates for the calls with whatever criteria they think is favorable to them. Even RTI can't come to the rescue of students this time.

2. As is known since time immemorial, such institutions as IITs and IIMs have openly expressed their dislike of coaching institutes who prepare students for the competitive exams. With easier questions,they are reducing the dependency of students on coaching institutes. The questions are easy(10th-12th standard at best) and time is ample,what do you need coaching for? Even if someone finishes the paper in 1.5 hrs with the help of a coaching institute,he wont get better marks than someone who finishes the paper in 135 minutes without a coaching.

Once the attention from IT aspects of CAT subsidies , these questions are bound to erupt which are much more important for candidates and the IIMs.Some of my friends feel, its not the same exam that used to invoke a sense of excitement and anxiety.
CAT 2009 is stale and boring compared to the previous versions which were famous for their unexpected behaviour.They feel with such questions,the dignity of this prestigious exam has been compromised.There were days, when IIMs could challenge the government on even small interferences and people supported them.Now, almost daily, you can read headlines with someone, somewhere criticsing IIMs and Prometric. A time to introspect for everyone and yeah may be for them too, the so called hallowed institutes of Management.