Open Letter: IIMs! Will you bring transparency in CAT?
Updated on Nov 25, 2016 - 4:49 p.m. IST by Team Careers360
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Careers360 has earlier reported on different issues related to transparency in CAT. We have now written an open letter to CAT 2016 Convenor seeking his response on the concerns raised by CAT takers.


Open letter to CAT 2016 Convenor (IIMs)


Date: 25 November, 2016



Prof Rajendra K Bandi,

CAT 2016 Convenor,

Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore


Subject: Transparency in CAT


Dear Sir,


It has been seven years since the Common Admission Test (CAT) was turned into a computer-based test with multiple testing slots. During this period, the scope of this national-level MBA entrance exam has only widened with increased capacity of existing IIMs and addition of 12 new IIMs. The efforts that IIMs have put towards making CAT scores acceptable for MBA admissions to more than 100 top B-schools in India is also laudable.


Unfortunately, along this journey, the IIMs have been increasingly inviting controversies for the way it conducts CAT. Doubts related to transparency of the testing system have mounted in the last seven years. This might also be one of the reasons behind stagnancy in the number of CAT registrations over the past seven years.


Sir, you would accept that there have been instances of technical glitches and wrong questions being asked in CAT in the past. There are also instances where IIMs have faced RTI (Right to Information) requests regarding issues related to transparency in CAT. With IIMs turning down requests for access to CAT raw scores and evaluation methodology, such issues have been reaching different High Courts also, leading to mistrust between IIMs and CAT takers.


We at Careers360 believe that aspirants have valid concerns. Transparency is missing from the CAT testing system at multiple fronts. As a public management institution and a torch bearer of best management practices, you also have an obligation to set high standards of transparency. 


Through this ‘Open Letter’, we would like to know if the concerns of the aspirants, with regard to transparency in the CAT examination and result process would be addressed. We are listing out the concerns and hope that you would respond to them.


Why IIMs do not release Answer Key/Question Paper?


Ever since CAT turned into a computer-based examination, the question papers have not been made accessible to candidates. This puts a question mark on the credibility of CAT evaluation and scoring process as the test takers do not get any chance to revisit test questions and predict their scores. Candidates get the final scores which they are asked not to doubt.


Also, we know that it is a standard practice with many top exams in India to release answer keys. It is done for exams like UPSC Civil Services, JEE Main and NEET where the numbers are much higher than CAT. For example, JEE Main is taken by more than 12 lakh candidates which is about six times the volume of CAT takers. So, what prevents you from releasing the CAT answer keys and question paper?


Why IIMs do not give access to CAT raw scores?


The IIMs have been denying CAT takers access to their own raw scores despite a Supreme Court (SC) order asking public examination authorities to release evaluated response sheets which carries raw scores.  IIMs have been evading CAT answer key requests and other RTI requests related to CAT evaluation process in the name of RTI exemption clauses.  However, this does not stand legal scrutiny as the SC order relating to answer key release, says that “no exemption under section 8 is available in respect of evaluated answer books” and hence “the examining bodies will have to permit inspection sought by the examinees.”


The position that IIMs have taken on holding back the answer keys and response sheet is in complete violation of the SC order of August 9, 2011, where the apex court says that the provisions of the RTI Act will prevail over the provisions of the by-laws/rules of the examining bodies regarding examinations. I would like to remind you that the SC in its crucial order maintains that the response sheet, which is evaluated by exam authorities, is a record of information which essentially falls under the purview of RTI.


Further, IIMs also cite commercial interest of testing partners as the reason behind not allowing candidates to access raw scores. On different occasions in past, IIMs have argued that the announcement of answer keys/response sheet or allowing access to raw scores will create confusion among test takers.


None of the above logics stand in the face of the SC order in this regard. The SC order is attached here for your reference.


Why do you compel CAT takers to sign Non-Disclosure Agreement?


CAT 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 appearing in earlier testing 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.


Also, when Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) restricts CAT takers from discussing and disclosing CAT questions or answers, it also means that any anomaly in the question paper like wrong question or wrong answer options can’t be discussed and shared in public. With this clause, you reserve the right to decide if a question asked was right or wrong; and ensure that there is no public scrutiny of your decision.


Thus, the controversial Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) 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?


Why IIMs do not publish normalisation methodology?


What is the CAT normalisation process? How are CAT takers from different testing slots evaluated? How is raw score of CAT converted into percentile?


Though IIMs broadly answer these questions, the specifics of the evaluation process have so far been kept a secret. No authorised explanation of CAT normalisation is available till date.


Further, IIMs claim that CAT normalisation is similar to the normalisation process of Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). Ironically, despite this claim, IIMs do not publish this detailed methodology of normalisation which is publicly available for GATE.


Will you make the CAT normalisation methodology transparent?

This browser does not support embedding PDFs. Please view the pdf here.


Why do not you classify re-testing criteria?


Last but not the least, you have announced that conducting retest is a possibility for candidates who might be affected due to technical glitch or any other test related problems. We would like to know what are the circumstances under which candidates become eligible for retesting? What is the procedure of application for a retest?  IIMs must come clean on criteria for retesting so that candidates may properly understand this, and claim accordingly for a retest in case of any trouble during their tests.


Being an elite league of management institutions, IIMs are looked up to.  You are expected to lead from the front when it comes to transparency. We expect you to come clean on the above issues related to transparency in CAT and IIM admission process.


MBA Aspirants and Educators look for your response on why the IIMs which are held in high esteem, are themselves failing in the transparency test?


Ashish Jha

Copy to:

  • Mr Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister, MHRD

  • Mr V.S. Oberoi, Secretary (Higher Education), MHRD

  • Dr Ashish Nanda, Director, IIM-Ahmedabad

  • Dr Raghavan Srinivasan, Director-in-Charge, IIM Bangalore

  • Dr. Saibal Chattopadhyay, Director, IIM Calcutta

  • Dr. Ajit Prasad, Director, IIM Lucknow

  • Dr Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM Indore

  • Dr. Kulbhushan Balooni, Director-in-Charge, IIM Kozhikode

  • Dr. Amitabh De, Director, IIM Shillong

  • Dr. Anindya Sen, Director, IIM Ranchi

  • Dr. Gautam Sinha, Director, IIM Kashipur

  • Dr B S Sahay, Director, IIM Raipur

  • Dr. Atanu Rakshit, Director, IIM Rohtak

  • Dr. Prafulla Agnihotri, Director, IIM Trichy

  • Dr Janat Shah, Director, IIM Udaipur

Also Read

Write to IIMs for CAT Answer Key release! Join Careers360 campaign for transparency in CAT

CAT Normalisation: A formula kept secret by IIMs

IIMs! Can you justify non-disclosure clause for CAT?
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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Hi, can you suggest me the best colleges at 84.58 percentile in CAT. Im a female, non engineer, general category aspirant. My score in 10th/12th/Grad : 8.2 CGPA/89%/7.2 CGPA

Sampriti Student Expert 22nd Jan, 2020
You have a pretty decent CAT percentile and hence you should check out these colleges.
  • LBSIM Delhi
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • KMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses

They are very good colleges with good placements and great ROI.You can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs.

Good Luck

when can we give CAT exams?? when should we start preparations for CAT exams??

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
Arpita, CAT exam is usually held every year tentatively in the month of November and the results are announced in the month of January. With all the 20 IIMs conducting their admissions based on CAT score, no time is early for CAT preparation. Unless you score 95 percentile and above, it is difficult for admission in IIMs. CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.

which mba colleges are best suited for 84 percentile in cat 2019?

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You have a pretty good CAT percentile and you can easily get a call from some of the best B schools in the country like
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • IMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses
  • ICFAI Business School Hyderabad and other campuses
  • IFMR Chennai and other colleges

All these colleges are equally good in terms of industry reputation and placements. But if you're interested in marketing or finance you should go for BIMTECH, ICFAI and IMT campuses and BIM. They are the best in this list. But if you're planning to study Human Resource then XISS and LIBA would be the best option. All the colleges provide good ROI and you can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs from these colleges.

Good Luck

sir my jee main percentile in jan exam is 85.4059364. can I get admission in NIT. I m in Gen cat

Sunil Kumar singh 21st Jan, 2020

Hi dear,

You have got 85.4059364 percentile in JEE main that means your rank should be 126875. This rank can increase in number of student in april month will increase. You can also calculate your rank as

Rank=(100-your percentile)×869010÷100

With this rank you have very low chance to get any NITs as you belong from general category. You can predict your college here

Hope it helps


Which is the best academy to take cat coaching in India, both online and offline...

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You can join either TIME or Carrer Launcher. Both of them are equally good in terms of faculty and study materials. IMS is also pretty good and comes right after these two. All of them have good success rate. All of them usually charge above 40000 as the course fee.

But if you don't want to invest such a huge amount of money you can study from various books available in market like Arun Sharma and Sarvesh Verma for quantitative aptitude and magazines like The Economist and TIME and TOI newspaper for the English portion. Along with that do buy the mock test series from the above Institutes which will give you a good knowledge of all the kinds of questions generally asked in CAT,XAT or other exams.

All the very best
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