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Computerised testing has winning edge over paper-pencil CAT

Started by ganeshbala, Dec 12, 2009, 05:58 PM

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Computerised testing has winning edge over paper-pencil CAT

Asking for a return to paper-and-pencil common admission test (CAT) for the Indian Institutes of Management because of initial minor glitches in the computer-based testing (CBT) carried out this year for the first time is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Over the years, the number of hopefuls trying out for admission to the IIMs has become so huge that the traditional paper-and-pencil test had become unmanageable. Shifting to the more efficient CBT was inevitable and wise. After all, if India could successfully undertake a paradigm shift of much bigger dimensions like the transition from paper balloting to computerised electronic voting in the general elections, then why doubt the ability to conduct the equally innovative exercise of computerised CAT for the IIMs?

CBT has been around now for over 20 years in the world. Today well over a million exams a month are delivered worldwide via computers and that number continues to grow each year. It is now widely used for admissions testing as well as licensure and certification exams.

What does computerised CAT offer the IIMs? Manageability, for one. The sheer logistical nightmare of distributing question papers to widely scattered exam centres and then collecting and transporting the answer papers back to the evaluation centres is totally avoided. So is eliminated the need for a large number of staff to painstakingly go through the answer sheets and tally the marks. This also enables easy scalability in terms of not only numbers but also geographies. The IIMs can start going global with their CAT.

Since the exam format involves machine readable answers, time is saved since tallying, collation and ranking is almost immediate, unlike in the paper-and-pencil system. Moreover, human errors which occur during manual evaluation are totally avoided. Thanks to no materials and transport involved, the cost incurred per candidate is vastly reduced, of course, not countingthe number of trees saved.