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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.

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IIMB in QS Asia Pacific top 10

The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), one of India's top business schools, has been ranked no.6 in the Asia Pacific region in the QS Global 200 Business Schools 2009: The Employers' Choice published recently by Quacquarelli Symonds Limited.

A press release from IIMB said it was the only Indian management school to rank amongst the top ten, which includes business schools in Australia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong.

"I am delighted that the QS report, which is an independent international survey, has rated IIMB amongst the top ten business schools in the Asia-Pacific region," IIMB Director Pankaj Chandra said.

"The votes given by employers demonstrate the confidence placed in our students. Global companies consistently recruit from IIMB for their international operations. The votes endorse the contribution made by our students to their organizations," Prof Chandra said.

IIMB was ranked ninth in the previous 2007-08 QS report. The release also quoted the survey as saying that the average GMAT score of students enrolled in the Post-Graduate Programme in Management at IIMB is 780, which is the highest in the entire region – testimony to the talent and caliber of students at IIMB, and why IIMB continues to be a preferred recruitment destination for global positions.

The Employers' top 10 preferred schools in the Asia Pacific region are:

INSEAD Singapore, Melbourne Business School, NUS, AGSM, CEIBS, IIM Bangalore, Macquarie, HKUST, Monash and Nanyang.

The "QS Global 200 Business Schools 2009" originated in the early 1990s as an alternative to business school rankings and until this year has been known as the "Global Recruiters’ Top Business Schools Research".

The report provides a list of 200 business schools currently preferred by the most international employers for the purpose of hiring MBA graduates. This list is compiled from an annual survey of Human Resources (HR) managers and line managers with recruiting responsibilities at companies around the world. Each year employers recommend new schools to be added to this list, which employers around the world can then rate and comment upon.

Quacquarelli Symonds Limited (QS) was established in 1990 and comprises a team of over 100 highly diverse representatives from five continents and has its main offices in London, Paris, Singapore, with satellite offices in Alicante, Beijing, Johannesburg, Sydney and Washington.

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IIM CAT to be computerised from this year

The Common Admission Test (CAT) of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will be a Computer Based Test (CBT) from this year onwards, an official announcement has said.
The IIMB Convocation 2008 ceremony. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, IIM Bangalore, Mukesh Ambani can be seen talking to the Chief Guest, Dr. Gururaj Deshpande as the faculty look on.
The IIMB Convocation 2008 ceremony. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, IIM Bangalore, Mukesh Ambani can be seen talking to the Chief Guest, Dr. Gururaj Deshpande as the faculty look on.

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.

Given the huge numbers of students who appear for the examinations in comparison to the 1500-odd seats at the IIMs, CAT has acquired the reputation of being the toughest entrance test worldwide for business schools.

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.

The release said CBT CAT would be a candidate-friendly test in terms of flexibility in the selection of test date, 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.

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

According to it, CBT is a natural culmination of the modernization CAT has undergone. In the late 1960s, multiple choice questions (MCQ), an educational testing innovation, was introduced for the first time in the entrance examinations of IIMs. Later, in the late 1970s, entrance tests of different IIMs were merged to form CAT. In the late 1980s, another technology feature was introduced in the form of optical machine reading (OMR) of the answer-sheets.

Today, CAT is poised to take a CBT format comparable to the existing tests such as GMAT, GRE, and TOEFL but at substantially lower cost.

The IIMs have selected Prometric ETS after a very elaborate search process to be their partner in delivering the computer-assisted CAT.

More details will be available on the computerised CAT along with the advertisement for CAT to be released later this summer, the release added.

Mr Gautam Puri, Managing Director of Career Launcher, one of the leading institutions that help prepare students for CAT, said things like the manner of preparation for the test would not change much. They would still have to work hard on honing their mathematics and English-language skills and getting their basic concepts clear.

What will change is the manner of giving the test, which will now be in an online situation.

He said his institute had been preparing for the change for some time and moved its tests and mock CATs online. Career Launcher had set up computer laboratories at its centres to enable the students to practise more online, he said, and it was launching an online programme which would enable students to take its courses online.

Mr Puri said students should remember that the decision to move to computer-based tests would not mean any change in the number of questions. But it would be reasonable to expect the online reading passages to be shorter in the verbal ability section and the data for the data interpretation sections could also be shorter. This is because it is more difficult to scroll down a computer page than to turn the pages in a printed question paper, he explained.

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Rajasthan to get IIM after all

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that a new Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Rajasthan, announced by mistake in his budget speech of February 16, would be set up after all.

While presenting the interim budget for 2009-10 in the Lok Sabha on February 16, Mr Mukherjee had announced that teaching was expected to commence in 2009-10 in four of the six new IIMs proposed for the XIth Plan period. He went on to say that these would be in Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu.

"I have since been informed that there was a typographical mistake made by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Institutes that will start functioning during 2009-10 will be in Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. HRD Ministry has rectified the mistake. However, as announced we will now take action to set up an IIM in Rajasthan also," Mr Mukherjee said during his reply to the debate on the interim budget in the Rajya Sabha today.

Mr Mukherjee is looking after the Finance portfolio, in addition to his duties as External Affairs Minister, in the absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is convalescing after a coronary bypass surgery in January. Dr Singh was handling the Finance Ministry after shifting Mr P Chidambaram to Home in the wake of the November 26 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

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Arjun Singh lays foundation stone of Central University in Haryana

Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today laid the foundation stone of a Central University at Jant Palli in Mahendragarh district of Haryana.

The Haryana government has agreed to provide 500 acres of land free of cost for the university. Mahendragarh was chosen for the location of the new university because the district is comparatively educationally backward and the institution is expected to address the problem of regional imbalance.

Mr Singh said the Centre would also establish an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Rohtak in the state. The state will be given financial assistance to open degree colleges in seven districts and polytechnics in another seven.

The Centre has already announced plans to set up 30 new Central Universities, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), seven new IIMs, five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), two new Schools of Planning & Architecture, 10 new National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in the XIth Plan period.

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