50 IIM CAT labs closed on Sunday, candidates to get new dates

About 50 of the 360 testing laboratories in different cities where the Common Admission Test (CAT 2009) of the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) were to be conducted were closed today for carrying out repairs in selected computers.

Candidates affected by today's closure will be notified by Prometric, which has been selected by the IIMs to deliver the examination, through SMS and e-mail messages about their new appointments as will be about 2000 candidates who could not take their examinations yesterday because of the glitches.

The CAT had gone online for the first time yesterday and the prestigous examination is being conducted over a ten-day period upto December 7.

According to the IIMs, CAT involves the delivery of examinations by Prometric, which has been seleced to deliver the online tests, to more than 360 testing laboratories at 104 individual locations.

"While a significant majority of the candidates successfully completed their exams on Day One yesterday, various technical issues arose at selected computers in approximately 50 labs that prevented 2000 exams from being delivered," the IIMs said.

"Prometric has generated new appointments for these individuals and they are in the process of being contacted through SMS and email messages. Prometric technicians have been dispatched to address these isolated problems.

"To avoid candidate inconvenience and to allow for the necessary repairs to be completed at the impacted labs, Prometric has scheduled a closure of these labs on Sunday, 29 November 2009. Candidates affected by this closure will also be notified by Prometric in the manner described above and provided with new appointments within this year’s testing period," the IIM statement said.

The labs closed today included 11 in Bangalore, 8 in Bhopal, 6 in Lucknow, 5 each in Mumbai and New Delhi, 4 in Ghaziabad, 2 each in Hyderabad and Varanasi and 1each in Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Nagpur, Navi Mumbai and Chandigarh,

More than 2.41 lakh candidates have registered for the CAT this year, slightly less than the number of students who had appeared for the prestigious examination last year.

The test will be held over a ten-day period upto December 7, with two sessions every day. It was conducted in the paper-and-pencil format for the last 33 years.

Meanwhile, the IIMs have made it clear to the candidates that disclosing, publishing, reproducing, transmitting, storing, or facilitating transmission and storage of the contents of the CAT or any information therein in whole or part thereof in any form or by any means, verbal or written, electronically or mechanically for any purpose, shall be in violation of the Indian Contract Act, the Copyright Act and the Information Technology Act.

"Such actions and/or abetment thereof as aforementioned may constitute a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term up to three years and fine up to Rs. two lakhs. Candidates who want to appear for CAT have to agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement at the time of the test," the IIMs said in a disclaimer on the CAT website.

It also said computer based testing is a proven and reliable process that is administered to tens of millions of people each year.

"As with paper and pencil testing, or virtually every other human endeavor, a very small number of problems could occur that might prevent a test from being delivered and/or a result from being generated. In the unlikely event this does occur, every effort will be made to correct the problem, up to and including the administration of another test," it added.

The CAT is a pre-requisite for admission to various management programmes conducted by the elite IIMs, including their flagship two-year Post-Graduate Programmes (PGP) in Management. Many other institutions also use the CAT scores to finalise admissions to their management programmes.

The examination is being conducted in 32 Indian cities through 105 secure specially-prepared computer-based testing centres.

The seven IIMs are located at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore and Shilling.

Four more IIMs are due to start functioning from the academic session 2010-11 at Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Raipur in Chhattisgarh and Rohtak in Haryana. Two others in Uttarakhand and Rajasthan will be set up the following year.

The CAT score cards will be available on the CAT website from January 22, 2010.

Given the huge numbers of students who appear for the examinations in comparison to the 2000-odd seats on offer at the IIMs for their flagship PGP, CAT has acquired the reputation of being the toughest entrance test worldwide for business schools.

Later in the day, Prometric said that, since being selected by the IIMs to convert the CAT into a computer-based test, it had been working collaboratively with them to prepare for this launch.

It said months of preparation had gone into research, item writing, test design and construction, application development and processing, test registration and scheduling, test centre preparation, test administration, scoring and reporting.

"Exhaustive plans were developed and put in place well in advance of the start of the testing window," said Mr Ramesh Nava, Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific, Japan & Africa, Prometric.

"Unfortunately, the particular viruses and malware that attacked the test delivery system were not detected by the anti-virus software at the testing centres. Candidates are our first and foremost priority and Prometric is making every effort to provide all CAT aspirants an opportunity to test," he said.

"We understand how stressful it is for candidates to adapt to this new computer-based format," said Mr Soumitra Roy, Managing Director, India, Prometric.

"We truly regret the additional stress that candidates were subjected to over the first weekend of the CAT 2009, and are doing everything we can to make the rest of the testing experience as smooth as possible," he added.


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