Business Today

Belling the PC-based CAT

A primer on the new avatar of one of India’s toughest exams.

Saumya Bhattacharya        Print Edition: October 18, 2009

Q. Will CAT be conducted on a website?
No. CAT is going to be a computer-based test and not an Internet-based test, i.e., the candidate does not take the test on any website. Instead of reading the questions in a booklet and darkening the ovals on the answersheet, the candidate will read the questions on a computer and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option. The candidate will still need to go to one of the 105 designated test venues in 32 cities across India to take the exam.

Q. Will the test be held in one go?
No. The exam will be spread over 10 days—from Saturday, November 28, 2009, to Monday, December 7, 2009. There will be two sessions each day. Session 1 will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. while Session 2 will begin at 3:30 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. Candidates can opt for any one of the sessions. There will be 20 sets of question papers instead of one earlier.

Q. Will the exam day make any difference?
No. The difficulty level of the exam will be the same across all days. Initial registration data shows a clamour for weekends— that could simply be due to working executives opting for those days.

Q. Will the pattern of exam change?
No. The format of the test will remain more or less the same except that the candidate will read a question on a computer and click on the correct answer. A CAT sample test is available on the website for candidates to get a feel of the new method. The computer-based test is an improvement on the answersheet in that it allows you to mark questions you are unsure about so that you can selectively review them later. Only one question will appear on your screen at a time and there will be separate buttons that will take you to the Previous or Next question and allow you to Mark or Review a question.

Q. What if the computer develops any glitches?
There is a remote chance of that happening, according to Convenor of CAT Exams Prof. Satish Deodhar. However, there are provisions for PC terminal hiccups. The clock on the terminal of each candidate will be tracked. The moment a glitch happens, the clock will stop. The proctor at the examination centre will assess the situation. Once the malfunction is sorted out, the candidate will be able to start from where he stopped.

Q. How will I be assessed? What about results?
Irrespective of slots, scores will be taken together and there will be one result. Don’t expect any instant results either. While the exam is spread across 20 sessions, the results for CAT 2009 will be declared on January 22, 2010 on the website

Q. I am still worried. Anything could go wrong.
Dr Himanshu Rai, Chairman (Admissions), IIM Lucknow, assures there is a mechanism in place to take care of every foreseeable problem. “Whenever we begin something new, there are apprehensions. There could be imponderables, but we think it should be a cinch for the candidates.”

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