Centres in far-flung areas, confusion over level-playing field, quality of invigilation and advantages to candidates taking the test on the last day are some of the issues haunting the Common Admissions Test (CAT) aspirants this year. One of the toughest exams to crack, CAT is also one of the most sensitive exams in the country as students believe it can make or mar their lives.

Adding to their tension is not only the online exam being held for the first time but also the changes they have to adapt to in the newer version.

Since it is spread over 10 days aspirants are worried that those taking the test on the last day will have an advantage as they would know the exam pattern and kind of questions being asked. “Last day aspirants will be more confident and definitely have an advantage,” says Lokesh, an aspirant.

He further argues that it cannot be compared to TOEFL or GMAT where individual performance counts while it is the comparative performance that matters.

Another problem is ensuring level playing for all candidates. How the IIMs will decide the level of difficulty of different CAT papers during the window of ten days is a big question and aspirants are naturally worried over it.

Till now, the organisers have not come out with any policy on this issue. “Nothing on this is posted on the IIM website. But they will keep updating till the exam date and students can expect some information on this,” says Sai Kumar, CAT course director at TIME.

This time the organisers have not asked for any marks sheets from the candidates and this is raising the question of how will they decide on merit.

Will CAT scores be the only criteria of selection, unlike previous years where some weightage used to be given to graduation and school studies too.

Mr. Sai Kumar says each IIM will have its own method of calling candidates for interviews.

Selection of some colleges for test centres in Hyderabad has surprised students and academics as well. Some of the not-so-well known colleges situated in villages were chosen as test centres by Prometric. They have limitations with location, infrastructure and transportation.

“Travelling over 40 to 50 km. for an exam like CAT will affect the performance and those who got test centres in city will have an advantage,” feels Mr. Sai Kumar.

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