The Thakur College of Science and Commerce, CAT centre in Mumbai where technical hitches were reported today
One week into the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2012 and technical hurdles don't seem to go away. The CAT takers in the morning slot at Thakur College of Science and Commerce, Kandivali, Mumbai, were in for another major snag today. There were server errors which delayed the exam for more than two hours for many students. And the stoppage occurred after the exam started (10.15 am).
Monika Agarwal, a CAT taker in that slot recounts, “I was sitting in lab noumber 204 and started the test at 10.00 am. I was very confident about it. I had finished 5 questions in Quant and was starting to work on the sixth one when suddenly the screen went blank. We were told that it was a server problem. We had to wait for around 2 hours for it to be resolved fully and I started the exam only around 12 noon. I finished the exam at 2.10 pm.”
Prometric India confirmed the delay and said that some disruptions due to network connectivity were reported at Thakur College of Science and Commerce. “These issues were resolved and all candidates completed their tests successfully,” said Soumitra Roy, Managing Director, Prometric India. But Monika said that it did not serve any purpose. “We had to wait for 5-6 hours at the institute. After a two-hour gap, it was very difficult to get the focus again. After the exam re-started, I could not solve some DI questions. I had totally lost confidence.”
In another case at Jaipuria Institute of Management centre, Lucknow, Ankur Sarkar, a Kanpur resident, faced an interruption of thirty-five minutes yesterday in the morning slot. He recalls, “When I started writing the exam, the screen went blank. The supervisors got the system back in order and I started my exam after 15 minutes. After the first section, when I tried going to the next section, the screen again went blank which was resolved after 20 minutes. That way I was 35 minutes behind schedule. Once the exam got over, all the students were asked to wait. They started chit-chatting and I could hardly focus on the Verbal section. I told them to keep quiet but it did not work."
Ankur adds: "The invigilators despite knowing that I was still taking the test did not ask them to keep quiet. Also, the invigilators had collected admit cards from us at the start of the exam. Strangely, they started giving it back while I was writing the exam which caused further disturbance. The students were asked to leave 5 minutes before I completed the test. I again faced trouble as I had to get up during the exam to let students go as I was sitting in a corner and students had to pass by me to get out. I only got five minutes peacefully. But I had already lost confidence by that time and started taking wild guesses. I was almost on the verge of crying at the end of the exam.”
After the exam, Ankur went to the administrative head at the centre and asked for recourse but they did not seem to have a clue of what could be done. He was then asked to call the helpline number which asked him to send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. “I have sent a mail with all the details to the Prometric, IIM Kozhikode and all the directors of the IIMs,” says an aggrieved Ankur.
PaGaLGuY asked Prometric whether there is recourse available to such candidates. “We will review each request on a case to case basis,” says Mr. Roy.
CAT 2012 is in its first week and fourth year since its introduction to the computer-based format but it continues to be marred with faults. When asked reasons for the same, Mr. Roy says, “Resolving any operational and technical issues that come up during testing is part of Prometric’s standard operating procedure. We have a robust infrastructure in place to identify and resolve issues as they surface. We assure all registered candidates that they will get to test within this testing window.” For aspirants like Ankur however, it is a dream shattered. “This was probably my last attempt at CAT. I graduated two years back and prepared well for this CAT. My year and career were at stake but this problem ruined it for me.”
Incidentally, the second day of the CAT had also seen some hold-ups related to power cuts and common computer malfunctions in a few venues.
However, PaGaLGuY sought the opinion of a CAT coaching centre in Mumbai to know whether such technical goof-ups are as big a deal as made out by the candidates. The coaching centre head knew of the happenings in the Mumbai centre today and said, "It may affect performance to an extent but these situations are often used by candidates to justify their mediocre performance. I have seen it at my coaching institute during the mock exams as well."