New CAT spells trouble

Computerised examination boots out hundreds of IIM aspirants

New CAT spells trouble

 
Students come out after appearing for CAT online at a centre in Bangalore on Saturday. DH photoAs a result hundreds of students in centres across these cities could not take the test’s computerised version because of a server crash.

The computerised version was announced with considerable fanfare some months back as the future of standardised testing for entry to the country’s elite business schools.
Although unexpected, the crash occurred after the hugely competitive test began in 32 cities. Immediately after the problem was reported, organisers said the IIM aspirants who were unable to take the test would be accommodated and given fresh dates to appear for it. The fresh dates will be announced soon, they added.

But Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said there was no need for rescheduling the test and students hit by the server crash can appear for the test in the next nine days. The test is spread over 10 days, from November 28 to December 7.

Reports said there were glitches in certain centres in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bhopal. In Bangalore, the failed servers created chaos and panic among the aspirants with seven out of the eight centres hit by the technical snag.
The other centre at Garden City College of Science and Management Studies (GCC) in K R Puram altogether scrapped the test.

Bangalore worst hit

An official statement from the organisers ruled out holding the test at GCC till all problems were sorted out by November 30. However, other centres in the City will not be affected. Bangalore was among the worst hit cities as over 500 students were unable to take the test.

The morning session was delayed by more than 30 minutes as all centres had trouble addressing the technical glitch. Anxious candidates who were waiting for over two hours at the centres received a rude shock when a number of them could not even log in to the systems.

Across the country, as candidates complained of chaos, organisers termed the failure as “teething troubles” since the test switched over this year to a computer-based system from the earlier optical reader marking paper-based test.

Software incompatibility

Satish Deodhar, convener of the CAT committee of the IIMs, said the main reason for the problem was “incompatibility of some software at centres with servers.” 

“This is the first time that CAT is being held online. Despite our efforts to keep a demo online, the students clicked wrong keys which in turn led to the problems. We will ensure that the students are accommodated in the slots that will be held over the next 10 days. If such a thing is not possible, then one day would be added to accommodate all the students who faced the problem. Hopefully, this will not be repeated,” Deodhar said.
Ulhas Vairagkar, director of TIME Institute, a preparatory school for IIM aspirants, said: “We received calls from students in six cities saying they were not able to take the test because the computer system crashed. The (affected) students have been told they can take another time slot.”

Prometric, an American firm, developed the computer system for CAT. A meeting between CAT organisers and Prometric officials is scheduled for Saturday in Ahmedabad or Kolkata to discuss the problem.

Prometric managing director Soumitra Roy said: “Thousands of tests were successfully delivered throughout India. To accommodate the maximum number of candidates, Prometric and IIMs delayed the start of the morning session by about half an hour. As a result of isolated technical issues, some candidates are being rescheduled and provided a new appointment.”

Excuses

But candidates at GCC, the worst-affected centre in Bangalore, called off the morning and afternoon sessions. Several candidates complained that Prometric officials gave various excuses each time they were queried about the delay.

Abhishek Nirmal, one of those affected by the test cancellation at GCC, said some of the aspirants were kept in the dark about the nature of the problem.

“Initially, we were told that there was a technical issue, then they said the power was down. Eventually when we sat at our terminal, we could not log in as our User IDs were not accepted,” he said.

A few candidates at the centre who were able to login faced problems with page-loading.

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