Editor's note: Two members of the PaGaLGuY Headquarters took the CAT 2012 on the first day today. Here are their personal accounts.
CAT centre at Jasola, New Delhi
Astha A: Appeared for the test at Jasola, New Delhi, morning slot. Here is her experience.
Appearing for the first slot of the Common Admission Test (CAT), on its opening day was my maiden experience with any computer-based test. Safe to say, while the biometric registration processes indeed impressed, a 45-minute long wait in the scorching heat led to frustrated sighs and angry mumbles from the candidates at my centre at Asia Pacific Institute of Management in Jasola Vihar, New Delhi.
Four years into the computer-based test pattern, one would expect the check-in process for the CAT to run like a well-oiled machine. Although the Prometric staff members were trying hard to be competent, a queue of some 200 plus candidates at the centre led to confused faces and a delayed registration process.
I reached my center as early as 8:05 am. What I had not expected was to find candidates who had already been waiting for an hour. Anyone with a vehicle was finding it a little difficult to manoeuver on the narrow lane right outside the test centre as trucks with construction material were continuously making rounds.
Once the dust settled down, the Prometric staff started allowing the candidates inside the centre. Anxious parents bid their wards luck as they settled down for the two-hour long wait outside. Two separate queues were formed for a single registration desk. This and a long wait in the queue led to high tempers as two candidates broke into a fight over who should be standing ahead in the queue.
Although most candidates had brought a valid photo identification, which has been specified clearly on both the catiim.in website as well as the admit card, some faced problems with the verification of their identity (incorrect date of birth, wrong residential address and so on). The check-in process took around an hour. Upon entering the institute, we discovered that three more registrations spots had to be crossed before the candidates would be allowed entry into the testing labs.
After crossing these points, completing the biometric check-ins and depositing our private belongings, we were allowed inside the testing lab and guided to our seats for logging into the test software. A few candidates faced trouble with problems while logging in. Depending upon the gravity of the situation, either the snags were solved or the candidates were allotted a different computer. Since all candidates are to start the test together, this process delayed the test by another ten to fifteen minutes. We were already running behind the test schedule and the last candidate to enter the hall was at 10.18, whereas we should have already begun the test at 10 am.
With an initial fifteen-minute test tutorial, the candidates finally began their test between 10:25 am and 10:35 am. The test granted 70 minutes each for two sections. First the quantitative and data ability section and then the verbal and logical ability section sequenced immediately afterwards without a break.
While candidates at my centre found the quant section a bit difficult, most of them sailed through the verbal/logic questions.
A glitch-free test later, the candidates were asked to collect their personal belongings from the baggage counter. I came out of the test centre at 1:20 PM, a good one hour after the exam was scheduled to get over, to see the next batch of students all set and ready to bell the CAT!
Thakur college, Mumbai CAT center
Shashank Venkat: Appeared for the test at Kandivali, Mumbai, evening slot. Here is his experience.
My centre was in Thakur College of Science and Commerce, Kandivali, located in the western suburbs of Mumbai. Tracing the institute was not a problem as it was located in a well-known area. I reached there in about an hour from Andheri. Since I was taking the exam in the second slot, travelling in Mumbai was a lot easier in the afternoon. Some students, who came from far-off places such as Thane however, took about two hours to reach the institute.
What was surprising was the low turnout of test takers, with only 25-30 people in both the slots. Students at the centre speculated that many must have stayed away from the first day because they wanted to know whether the CAT was throwing any surprises this year. Also, the fact that technical glitches were most common on the first day could have kept them away. Many people who took the test were not serious MBA applicants but faculty from coaching institutes or students currently studying in b-schools who had come to experience CAT 2012 recreationally, or so they said.
Students were allowed inside from the main gate only at 1.45 pm and the watchman was very strict about the whole process (although he let one student in before time as he and the student hailed from the same state!). Oddly enough, the college had a gate on the other side and one could easily enter from that gate before time. Before I could enter 'officially', I easily entered from the other gate, did a recce of the location and came out of the main gate. No questions were asked.
The students were finally let in at 1.45 and were directed to a lab on the third floor. After being throughly searched at the entrance of the lab, we were asked to deposit our mobiles, watches and other valuables and given a token number for it. We were then asked to wait in our classroom for a long period, close to half of an hour. Students were seen sleeping, making new friends or simply whiling away time. After the long wait, I was called to the biometric kiosk. What made this kiosk stand apart was the fact that there were 5-6 people manning the system. After I went in, my photograph and finger impressions were taken. All the 5-6 people were quite passionately involved in the process with everybody offering their suggestions when one of my finger imprints wasn't getting registered.
After the registrations, we were given our lab and seat numbers and asked to be seated. In the lab, four students sat across one aisle which did not make for a very comfortable seating experience. The space was very cramped. The entire exam, however, was a smooth affair barring a couple of glitches. One student's system hung for some time but was rectified soon. Another student's name was missing from the screen and only the first three letters of his surname had showed up. The supervisors at the centre said that they could not do anything about it and he could contact Prometric later. At the end of the exam, most students were of the opinion that Quant and DI were the tougher sections and Verbal Ability had been easier than expected.