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CAT 2009 – First Day, First Slot Experience

CAT 2009 – First Day, First Slot Experience

TestFunda ,  30-Nov-09
- By Gaurav (Content Expert, TestFunda)
This an article written by Gaurav from the TestFunda Content team about his experience attempting the CAT on the first day.

Imagine a situation where you work hard enough for something for one full year and when that occasion finally arrives, it is a completely drenched (no, not even damp) squib. You end up wanting to actually give up and get out in disgust and desperation. I had enrolled for the first day, first slot for CAT 2009 to finish off the test earlier and get a first hand feel of things. On the morning of the 28th of November, I was completely set to “crack the CAT”. By the time my travails ended, I did not know whether I had escaped from jail or appeared for India’s most prestigious MBA entrance examination. It would probably make more sense if I give you guys a complete detail account of my CAT 2009 experience.

1)    8 : 00 am : Since I had registered for the first slot, I reached my centre (Thakur College of Science and Commerce) at 8 : 00 a.m. sharp. There were already a few students who had reached before me and wanted to know the procedure to be followed. So far so good, but the point is that there was no one at the gate to explain the instructions.
2)    8 : 10 a.m : The proctor for Prometric appeared and decided (after calling up someone) that students can be allowed inside. No one was allowed to take in bags of any kind. Women were allowed though, to carry a purse. The other thing is that we had to show our admit cards, vouchers and photo IDs at the main gate itself i.e. on the road. I have 2 questions for the organizers :
  • Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to allow students to enter and set up a counter where all these details could have been verified? One could palpably feel the discomfort of the students searching for the documents standing there on the road.
  • How difficult was it for Prometric to arrange a single (just one) classroom at the centre where all the students appearing in one slot could have kept their bags? If they were so bothered about security, they could have locked the classroom once the students went for the biometrics. Every year, students appear for numerous exams (both paper based as well as online) where all students keep their bags in their classrooms. To my knowledge, students come there to appear for an exam and not to steal bags.
3)    8 : 30 a.m : The check-in process (more detailed than at an international airport) would have been funny had it not been so ridiculous. We were told that we could not take anything inside the computer lab. Those people actually wanted us to even deposit our wallets at the counter. It was only after some students complained that they allowed us to carry wallets. The limit was that they actually asked to people to show them their railway passes and handkerchiefs (to determine if there was any foul play involved). After all of that, we were allowed to sit in a computer lab and told that we would have to appear for the biometric scanning soon.

4)    8 : 45 a.m : We were herded off to the next room for a fingerprint scan (thrice for each hand) followed by a photo session!!. At this point, we were given strict instructions (remember, they were from THE Prometric and hence, could not be disobeyed) that no one would be allowed to use the washroom and horror of horrors; no one would be given water after 9: 30. One can understand not allowing washroom breaks, but the most basic municipal school also arranges for water within minutes for 4 students.   

5)    9 : 15 a.m : We were asked to log in and the staff came in and began the process. The message appearing on my terminal was similar to “There is no examination scheduled for this date and time”. I panicked and called the proctor, who said that I would have missed the biometrics. Even after telling them I had completed the entire process, they refused to believe this. After three-four attempts, they figured out that the computer clock had reset to some other date. Couldn’t they have checked something as basic as this before starting the entire process?

6)    9 : 45 a.m : We were told that the exam would start at 10 : 30 and that we could take a 10 minute break if we wanted. One reason for this (apart from the server issues) was that someone at the systems end had mixed up centres. The fact is that there were two centres next to each other i.e. Thakur College of Engineering and Thakur College of Science and Commerce. While the codes for the two centres were correctly given on admit cards, the names of both the centres were given as Thakur College of Science and Commerce. As a result, the students who had to go to the Engineering College were stranded, and the staff did not have clear cut answers. However, I need to mention that most of the staff seemed helpful and keen to resolve matters at the earliest.

7)    10 : 25 a.m : 5 minutes before the schedule start, we were told to run the tutorial and complete it by 10 : 30. I dread to think about the condition of the students who are not well versed with computers (or the interface) and had banked on going through the tutorial. It is a different story that the tutorial went on strike and refused to work.

8)    10 : 30 a.m : The staff asked to leave the tutorial as it is and start the test. As is now famous, the test did not start on quite a few computers, including mine. We have must logged in and logged out, and restarted our computers 5 – 6 times, but to no avail.

9)    12 : 00 p.m : At a stage where our patience had already run out, we were told that we would be ADJUSTED in the 3 : 30 slot or at least by evening, but they did not tell us whether we would be allowed to have some food or go out for lunch. No communication on that front.

10)    12 : 15 p.m : Finally, some good news. The proctor said that we could appear for our exams on the PCs where some other students were already appearing. This also meant that we could not start till the batch (the ones who should have finished with us) completed their test.
11)    12 : 50 p.m : I finally started my exam. Cannot say anything about the exam due to the agreement, but once the paper started, it continued smoothly. There were no glitches in the actual paper.

12)    3 : 15 p.m : Came out of the centre feeling like a zombie. Though, hearing og the experience that others have had,  I thank my stars that I at least managed to complete my test.

On the whole, the questions that come to my mind are that “What was the nature and extent of testing done by Prometric before going live on a project of such a magnitude?” and “Wouldn’t it have been better to make the testing environment less intimidating for students rather than introducing layers and layers of security and processes?” If this could hassle people in Mumbai, where the comfort with computers is extremely high, just imagine the trouble caused to students in smaller centres.

Finally, we all fervently hope that things will get better from here on.
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