IIMs! Can you justify non-disclosure clause for CAT?
Ashish Jha, 11 Nov 2016, #CAT

While CAT takers and experts demand question paper and answer key release, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have yet again readied its Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which bars test takers from discussing and disclosing CAT questions or answers in public. Further, IIMs say that any violation of this agreement can land you in jail for three years!

“Disclosing, publishing, reproducing, transmitting, storing, or facilitating transmission and storage of the contents of the CAT or any information therein in whole or part thereof in any form or by any means, verbal or written, electronically or mechanically for any purpose, shall be in violation of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and/or the Copyright Act, 1957 and/or the Information Technology Act, 2000,” reads a notification in this regard by IIMs.

Additionally, the non-disclosure agreement that candidates are made to sign says that “Such actions or abetment thereof as aforementioned may constitute a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term up to three years and fine up to Rs two lakh.”

Thus, it becomes legally binding for CAT takers not to discuss CAT paper questions in public. Careers360 analyses different aspects of this non-disclosure agreement.


Is NDA relevant anymore?

Common Admission Test was made computer-based in the year 2009. Simultaneously, it was made a multiple session test, which would be held in 20 to 25 day window. The purpose of non-disclosure agreement was to restrict advantage to test takers who could gauge difficulty level and question types from the experiences of candidates of earlier slots.


Now that the testing window has been reduced to one-day-two-session only, there could not be any such advantage or disadvantage to any candidates as a test taker of the second session can hardly get any time to comprehend questions of first session. Thus, the non-disclosure clause becomes irrelevant today. Still IIMs make it mandatory, saying, “Candidates who want to appear for CAT have to agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement at the time of the test.”


Is NDA practical for implementation?

Apparently, publishing of CAT questions or its reproduction can land you in jail for three years. You may also be fined Rs two lakh for this. This is what the non-disclosure agreement announced by IIMs suggests.

However, this is brazenly violated by both test takers and experts. They do discuss questions and many of them reproduce CAT questions based on their memory. Different social media sites like Facebook are flooded with various questions once exam takers start coming out of the test centre.

So, how do IIMs stop it? Questions asked by Careers360 to the CAT Convenor regarding this remain unanswered till publishing of this article.  This indicates absence of any serious intention or mechanism that IIMs may have towards implementing such an irrelevant clause.


Also, in this age of fluid communication, it becomes impractical to check social media discussion on such subjects.  Still, every year, IIMs make it a point that all candidates appearing for CAT sign this non-disclosure agreement before attempting the test.


Does it promote transparency?

When the non-disclosure agreement bars CAT takers from discussing the test questions, it also means that any anomaly in the question paper like wrong question or wrong answer options can’t be discussed and shared publicly. The candidates can only share such anomalies with exam conducting IIM which reserves the right to decide if a question asked was right or wrong. Thus, such anomalies can’t be publicly discussed and scrutinised.

B-School directors suggest that IIM diktat towards maintaining secrecy over its question paper only leads to chaos. IMT Ghaziabad Director Dr Atish Chattopadhyay says that IIMs must publish the question papers and “If it does not then people will more often doubt the process.”  


IIMs, in the same disclosure say that re-testing is a possibility in case problems occur during the test. “As with paper and pencil testing, or virtually every other human endeavour, a very small number of problems could occur that might prevent a test from being delivered and/or a result from being generated. In the unlikely event this does occur, every effort will be made to correct the problem, up to and including the administration of another test,” it says. However, there is no criteria basis which a re-testing is decided by the IIMs.


Thus, the controversial non-disclosure agreement for CAT only raises doubts on the transparency of the testing system. Isn’t it time for IIMs to scrap the mandatory non-disclosure agreement?


Also Read

Release CAT Answer Key and Question Paper for more transparency, demand non-IIMS

IIMs! Don’t use testing partner as shield to evade CAT answer sheet release
SC order strict on release of answer sheet; IIMs remain non-committal on CAT

IIMs must release CAT Question Paper and Keys for transparency, says CAT expert Arks Srinivas

CAT Troubles: Will IIMs address these problem areas bothering CAT takers every year?

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