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CAT 2013: IIM Indore sending scores of 700 students for verification and validation in batches

Shreya Biswas, ET Bureau Jan 24, 2014, 03.04PM IST

KOLKATA: Common Admission Test (CAT) scores of nearly 700 examinees for admission into the country's management institutes are being sent for verification and validation to Prometric, which conducts the tests, even as protests against a discrepancy in scores gain steam across the country.

Candidates across Indore, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Ranchi are preparing to file public interest litigations against the scores. They have already met the CAT convenor in Indore and some 20 CAT takers protested at IIM Ranchi on Monday.

A few days ago, MBA aspirants filed an online petition calling for a revaluation of scores, which they believe have discrepancies because of a skewed normalisation process. The country's premier management institutes, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), released the scores on January 14.

IIM aspirants' petition filed by Abhishek Leel and signed by 5000 candidates, addressed to IIM Indore on online forum, said many test takers got unexpectedly low scores in two sections, particularly in verbal ability. Some candidates found they secured more than 90 percentile in the quantitative aptitude section, but only around 30 percentile in the verbal ability section.

The petition also claims there are people who have regularly been scoring over 95 percentile for the past three years in CAT, but this year, their score has not even crossed 80 percentile. This would waste a full year for them as 80 percentile is not enough for admission to any institute.

CAT 2013 convenor, Rohit Kapoor, however, insists that the results are in order. "Though there is no provision for such verification and validation of scores, we are doing it only to help examines," he says. He also refuted the claim that 5,000 candidates have signed the online petition, claiming that the number of cases received through emails with unique registration numbers is 700.

Candidates also point to a case where a candidate has got an overall score of 55 percentile despite not attempting a single question which means that over 50per cent of CAT candidates have scored in the negative.

The way it works is, for 30 questions, each correct answer fetches a candidate three marks while an incorrect answer gets him or her -1. The raw scores are then normalised -- equated from different papers of various difficulty level based on a formula.

Kapoor says this is possible. "CAT was quite tough this year because we wanted only good people to come into the system. There were lot of complaints from people over the past few years that the difficulty level has gone down, so we worked on that," he says.

But Abhijeet Chandak, a CAT 2013 candidate, refutes this claim. "This time, I was much more confident that I will go past 90 in verbal ability and logical reasoning as the paper was not that difficult," says Chandak, a graduate engineer trainee in Gammon who scored 92.90 percentile in verbal ability and logical reasoning (VA & LR, section-II) in 2011 and 98.71 percentile in 2012 but his score dropped to 30.36 percentile in 2013.

  Kapoor, however, says in mock tests, the candidate pool is limited and question samples are fixed, whereas CAT is conducted over multiple days, with multiple sets of question papers. "To be fair to everybody, no one knows which question will come when," he says, adding, "Students are saying there is a calculation error but a computerised algorithm can't be wrong."

"It may be possible theoretically that over 50per cent candidates get scores in the negative. This can only happen if the difficulty level has gone up drastically this year," says Gautam Puri, co founder, Career Launcher, who has been taking the tests himself -- a common practice amongst caching institutes. But the normalisation process needs to be explained more clearly, he says.

Historically, CAT has had five to six errors in papers every year for the past 10 to 15 years, "which they have never accepted except in 2006," says Puri. "In GMAT, a test similar to CAT, you know at the end of the paper how many answers are right and how many wrong, while in CAT you can only know how many you have attempted," he says.

Prometric too denies any anomalies in the results. "For CAT 2013, we have conducted additional quality control to verify that 100per cent of our reporting is accurate and our methodology is fair, reliable and determines the right scores according to candidate performance," says Soumitra Roy, general manager, Prometric India.

As per IIM direction, it was the company's job to heighten the exam's difficulty, he says, adding, "As a consequence, only the best performing test takers earned the highest scores."

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