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Updated: November 28, 2009 20:14 IST

CAT evades many as system blinks during first online foray

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
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Students appearing for the Common Admission Test (CAT 2009) exams waiting outside a center in Bangalore on Saturday. Photo K Murali Kumar.
The Hindu Students appearing for the Common Admission Test (CAT 2009) exams waiting outside a center in Bangalore on Saturday. Photo K Murali Kumar.

With system problems plaguing the first computer-based Common Admission Test (CAT) for admission to Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) on Saturday, a large number of students were either not able to appear for the exam at all or had to wait for sometime for the test to start.

In all, about 2.41 lakh students have registered for CAT and would be appearing for the test at 105 centres in 32 cities over 10 days.

The problem, according to the students was spread across Delhi and not confined to one particular region. While in some cases the exam started after a delay, in the other the students were made to wait and then informed that their exam would be rescheduled and they would be intimated about the date, venue and roll numbers on their e-mail IDs.

Vaishali Gambhir, whose center was in D-Block Janakpuri, said most of the students had reached the computer lab by 8-30 a.m. and it was at 10-30 a.m. that the exam started. “Half an hour into the exam the system crashed. There was no response from the computer as neither would the cursor move, nor the other keys functioned. We could not even log out. While initially I panicked thinking something was wrong with my computer, soon all the 43 students in my lab complained of the same problem.’’

As per Vaishali, the invigilators were also left clueless. “There were not instructions with them on what to do in such a scenario. The students were also nervous as they had come well prepared. But we realized that it could be a case of system overload as this was the first time that CAT was taking place online.’’

The students were made to wait at the centre and it was only at around 1 p.m. that they were informed by a senior person – who claimed to have contacted higher authorities – that in a meeting it has been decided that the exam would be rescheduled.

But for many students like Vaishali, who is to appear for her MCA examination in December, the biggest worry now is that the dates should not clash.

The same concern was expressed by Khushboo Juneja, whose center was also in Janakpuri. “I would be appearing for Management Aptitude Test on December 6 and Oriental Bank of Commerce Probationary Officer Exam on December 13. I would therefore not like CAT to be rescheduled on any of these days.’’

Meanwhile, for a large number of parents too the wait outside the institutes, where their children were appearing for CAT, turned out to be a long one. “My daughter was appearing for CAT at Okhla Industrial Area Phase II and the exam was to start at 10-30 a.m. But due to the network problem, which was later solved, it only began at 12-15 p.m.,’’ said a health executive.

However, the authorities in many cases kept the parents informed about the developments. `”All this while, we were kept posted about the reasons for the delay. Also, many of us kept contacting people at home and friends to find out if the problem existed elsewhere too and how it was being addressed there,’’ he said, adding that “but waiting does make you nervous, tired and angry.’’

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