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Prometric to expand in India to handle CAT

Prometric, providers of technology-enabled testing and assessment services, today said it would expand its infrastructure in India, including people and technology, to deliver the first ever computerised version of the Common Admission Test (CAT) of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

The US firm has won the exclusive $ 40 million contract from the IIMs to computerise the test that is widely regarded as the toughest entrance examination for business schools worldwide.

"To efficiently deliver the first ever computerized version of the exam to over 250,000 Indian students this fall, Prometric will accelerate plans to further build out its people, services and technology infrastructure in India," the company said in a press release here.

"In assuming responsibility for all aspects of the CAT programme, including item authoring, test development, test administration and scoring and reporting services, Prometric will add resources, including dedicated test development and support staff, in India.

"Complementing the 185 employees, test center network and other assets Prometric already operates in India, these additional new resources will provide a more powerful and rigorous means for the CAT, and any other test publishers looking at expansion in India, to leverage for growth," it said.

CAT scores are used as part of the admission process to the seven IIMs at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore and Shillong as well as by scores of other management schools in India.

The computerised test will be conducted in a window of about ten days some time at the end of the calendar year, the announcement by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore said. Traditionally, CAT used to be conducted on the third Sunday in November every year.

Prometric said candidates would be able to appear for the test in 23 cities across India where secure computer-based testing centres would be set up specially for the CAT examination.

The longer window and wider availability will provide candidates greater flexibility when choosing a testing date, time or location as well as near-ubiquitous access to testing locations. In addition, computerization of the CAT will result in faster score processing, enabling the IIMs and more than a hundred other Indian business schools that rely on the results to more quickly make their admissions decisions, the company said.

"The breadth of Prometric’s business is truly global, which means that our most valuable assets – our skilled employees, test center network, data centers and call centers – are distributed across many countries around the world; this is a huge advantage to all our clients and one they will never find with any other provider," said Michael Brannick, President and CEO of Prometric.

"Our commitment to making global infrastructure investments that support our growth strategy has not waned at all, and creates a win-win situation for us and our clients."

Prometric is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ETS and its services include test development, test delivery and data management. It delivers and administers more than seven million tests a year on behalf of 450 clients in the academic, professional, healthcare, government, corporate and information technology sectors.

Announcing the decision to computerise CAT from this year, the IIMs had said earlier this week that the decision would also lead to ease of registration process, better physical environment and test experience, and enhanced security in terms of biometric identification of candidates and video monitoring.

It said the CBT format would also improve communication between candidates and the IIMs in terms of programme information, test delivery, receipt of admit cards, and receipt of score reports.

The IIMs have been conducting CAT in paper-&-pencil format for the last 33 years. With growing student aspirations to undertake management education, the number of candidates appearing for CAT has been increasing manifold. While about 95,000 candidates took CAT in 2003, the number rose to about 250,000 in 2008, indicating a rise of a whopping 163 percent. The seven IIMs offer a total of around 1500 seats in their flagship two-year post-graduate programmes in management.

"This has resulted in severe strain on the administrative system of IIMs to conduct CAT in its existing format," the IIMs had explained in a statement.

NNN

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