Students seeking admission to the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) are gearing up to appear for Common Admission Test (CAT) in its new computer-based avatar. However, there are fewer people trying to bell the CAT this year.

“The number of students who have registered for CAT 2009 from Delhi and the National Capital Region is between 44,000 to 45,000 as opposed to between 47,000 to 48,000 students in 2008,” said T.I.M.E. Delhi director Ulhas Vairagkar.

“There is an overall eight per cent drop in the number of CAT applications. This year 2,46,000 students have registered as opposed to 2,71,000 students who registered for CAT last year,” he added.

MDI Gurgaon, applications for which close on November 20, is also apprehensive about a drop in number of applicants. “There may be a slight drop in the number of students who apply to MDI if we go by this year’s general trend,” said MDI Gurgaon admissions chairperson Prof C.P. Gupta adding that the exact number of applications was yet to be assessed.

“The Management Aptitude Test (MAT) too has recorded a lower number of applications. This could be because people who are working may not want to quit their jobs because of the recession. They may have fears that they may not get another job,” adds Prof. Gupta.

Career Launcher academics director Arindam Lahiri concurs: “People also have placement fears. Business schools did not record very good placements in the last academic session.”

According to Mr. Lahiri, students could also be shying away from CAT-2009 because of its new online format.

“Students from smaller towns may not be very comfortable with the computer as a mode for taking examinations,” he says.

“The key challenge is that students are not used to intensely concentrating on their computer screens for a long period of time. While chatting, playing games or surfing the net much concentration is not required. We are encouraging students to read more on the web,” he adds.

Coordination of movements too is something that students will have to inculcate. While they will have to scroll up and down the screen to see the questions, calculations will have to be performed on paper. However, all questions related to RC (reading comprehension) can be viewed on the same page. Also students cannot highlight and underline important parts of more than one question at a time.