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Online CAT: What to expect

Last updated on: April 15, 2009 11:43 IST

Students might have seen the news articles circulating recently announcing that the CAT might go online this year. This bit of news has, understandably, created quite a bit apprehension among prospective test-takers, since this mode of testing may well mean a big change for them.

So far, students have been quite used to taking written exams and now suddenly they are faced with an exam on a computer -- and that too such an important exam!

The first question that comes to mind is why is this shift to the online system being contemplated? There are two possible reasons:

However, there are several challenges that an online format could face and it remains to be seen how the IIMs will manage these. There are major infrastructure issues: a huge database with thousands of questions will need to be in place for the computer to pull out questions. Several hundred test centres with the required number of computers will be needed and there problems could occur in processing data to award the scores to candidates. Power back-ups would be needed at all centres, in case power cuts occur. Can all these issues be tackled successfully? We shall just have to wait and see.

Changes which could occur

As for the actual test, there are various possible changes that could be introduced in order to make the online version usable. Some of these are:

A possibility
Since candidates are allowed multiple attempts at different times for the GMAT/ GRE exams, their scores too are valid for more than just one year. Should the CAT go online, will the IIMs also allow the scores to be valid for multiple years? It remains to be seen.

The author is an MBA from IIM Calcutta and is employed with a management consultancy. He has also been a visiting faculty with MBA coaching centres in New Delhi, and can be contacted at

Sidharth Balakrishna