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Management is the process of getting activities completed efficiently and effectively with and through other people. How easy to define but how difficult to implement. The Indian Institutes of Management intended to create history last year by conducting the first large-scale computer adaptive test of India
but failed to apply the management fundamentals empirically while conducting the exam and finished up dissatisfying CAT aspirants 2009. Due to technical issues the attempt became catastrophic and finally the most awaited management exam of the year ended up with a lot of enigma and several question marks.
The IIM's with the help of Prometric, an American testing firm, which collaborated with NIIT, wend ahead to introduce a new testing process for common admission test (CAT), by switching from paper and pencil CAT to computer adaptive test (CAT) in order to enhance the test quality by administering more conducive environment to candidates. The IIM's also assured all concerned people that through the above process greater fairness would be achieved in conducting CAT 2009. However, despite their best efforts many adversities were faced by the candidates during the test window of Nov.28 - Dec.8, 2009.
The CAT debacle started at the stage of online application procedure itself. Technical problems were faced by candidates while filling up online applications. The online application process was arranged to ease the registration process for candidates, but it did not really help in great manner. Candidates experienced a great deal of inconvenience as they could not refill the same form in case of any mistakes done, instead they were asked to buy another form costing another Rs. 1400/-.
Nearly 2.42 lakhs candidates registered for CAT 2009 and were scheduled to attempt the exam at 360 centres across 32 cities of India during a span of 10 days (Nov 28-Dec 7), each day having two slots of exams. 17,000 workstations were arranged to conduct the test across the country. Till last year, it used to be held in a single session on the same day, usually the third Sunday of November all over the country. Well, the first sign of IIMs' failure became significant when they had to increase the duration of test by one day as thousands of candidates were not able to complete the test successfully due to various technical troubles.
The IIMs and Prometric, the American testing firm which contracted to conduct the test for a fee of $ 40 million in partnership of NIIT, issued a very unconvincing answer 'virus attack' for such major failure. Even during the increased time span of 11 days not all but about 2.16 lakhs candidates completed the test successfully. For about 9000 students test was rescheduled across 20 cities and nearly 10% of the registered students did not show up for the test.
The test was delayed at some centers by as much as an hour due to unorganized security checks and seating arrangements, while at some centers test did not operate at all. Approximately one-sixth of the 304 i.e. 50 test labs failed to conduct the exam as per schedule, putting the credibility of the most prestigious management institute of country at stake. Ideally the test conducting body should have ensured the user level compatibility practically in an extensive manner before the launch.
Not only failed workstations at test labs ridiculed this hi-tech process but process based glitches also were faced by the candidates. Presentation of examination paper also challenged the students with missing images, graphs, data and diagrams in mathematics questions. The troubles of premature exit due to unintentional use of "End" icon on the review screen in the first few days of test period and disruptions caused due to malfunctioning of computers (hang-ups, system shut-down in the middle of the test) also contributed to the agony of candidates. It is estimated that thousands of candidates faced various kinds of difficulties while attempting the test. It was all more traumatic because one could not expect such kind of mismanagement from the top management institutions of country.
* Contributed by: -
CoolAvenues News Wire