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"CAT failed us"

The first computer-based common admission test (CAT) was anything but smooth. BTpresents first-person accounts of two students who sat for CAT 2009.

Print Edition: January 10, 2010

Fate 'hangs' in balance
November 29, 2009

Few hours prior to the exam, my anxiety had increased as the first day of CAT exam had turned out to be a fiasco. Servers had crashed and there were technical glitches galore.

My centre was an engineering college at Faridabad in Haryana. The exam was to start at 3.30 p.m. and the candidates were asked to report two hours before that, allowing time for security and biometric checks. Full of apprehensions, I reached the centre before 1 p.m. Once inside the lab (it was a big lab and could easily accommodate 50 candidates) a few minutes prior to the exam, we were allowed to take a tutorial. When I started to take this tutorial, my computer hung. I got nervous and sought help from four invigilators in my lab who assured me everything will be taken care of in 5-10 minutes. A couple of minutes later, another girl in the lab complained of a computer malfunction.

More time passed, but I only got assurances. No body came to check my computer. When others started to write their exam, I panicked and frantically sought help from invigilators. An engineer finally came and it took him, believe it or not, 30 minutes and 15 seconds to start the exam for me. The exam itself was not a problem; I had taken an infinite number of mock tests.

But my anxiety levels were too high by this time. I got full 135 minutes to complete my exam, but my concentration was lost. I could attempt only 40 questions of the total 60. I was also nervous all through the exam about any further glitches. Had the system been smoother, I would have at least completed my exam.

— Bharat Malik, Delhi


A nonstarter
November 30, 2009

It was the third day of CAT 2009 and the sole issue rankling me was—will it be a smooth run. TV channels and newspapers in the last two days had reported numerous glitches across CAT centres. My centre was Apeejay School in Dwarka, Delhi, and the exam slot 10 a.m.-12.30 p.m. After security and biometric checks, I took my seat in the exam lab by 8.30 a.m. Things would not start for another one-and-a-half hours.

A little before 10 a.m., all the candidates were asked to start computers, but to our horror, some computers in the lab, including mine, would not start. We were asked to shut down the computers; it seems there was too much load on the server. It would take some time to restart computers, we were told. By now, all the candidates in our lab were asked to shut their computers. One-and-a-half hours later, we were told that the exam would not take place in our lab. When asked, an engineer said something about system overload. The invigilator told us we would get a call in a day or two about the new centre and new date.

To my shock, on the same day at 8 p.m., I got a message that said my exam was slotted the very next day at INJ Business School in Greater Noida. I could still manage as I stay in Rajendra Nagar in Delhi, but there were students who had come from as far as Varanasi and had probably gone back.

The next day at Greater Noida was uneventful. Some PC malfunctioned, but no major problems were encountered. I was relieved at being able to finally write my exam, which itself wasn’t too difficult.

— Name withheld on request

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