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As Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) maintain a measured silence over CAT answer key and question paper release, top B-schools accepting CAT scores for MBA admission process have demanded a more transparency in the testing system. Careers360 spoke to top non-IIMs to understand their concerns related to the most prestigious MBA admission test.
Though, B-School directors say CAT requires transparency at multiple levels, they believe that release of question paper and answer key remain of utmost importance. According to them, such steps will only generate a greater level of trust in the coveted MBA exam, which is the gateway for IIMs and many other top B-schools in India.
CAT should not be a secret
VIT Business School Dean Dr D Ashok says that IIMs should not maintain secrecy on the questions it asks to candidates. He firmly suggests that “IIMs should release all 3 documents namely, question paper, answer key and answer sheet. Then the major issues related to lack of transparency can be addressed.” He adds that such documents also help aspirants who prepare for next year test.
Dr Harivansh Chaturvedi who is the Director of Birla Institute of Management Technology also says that releasing question paper and the answer keys would help IIMs in “enhancing the credibility of the exam system”.
Can’t IIMs do it like XAT, AIPMT, UPSC!
B-School directors also refuse to accept IIMs’ claim that releasing answer key and question paper will make the testing and evaluation process complex. They question intention of IIMs on this asking why IIMs can’t do it for CAT Exam when XLRI does it for a similar exam called XAT. Prof M P Gupta, HoD, DMS-IIT Delhi says, “XAT conducting B-School, XLRI, releases the answer keys just after the exam. Thus, even before the results are out, candidates already know their expected marks and as a result, they are less anxious on the result day. These are some aspects which make XAT a highly credible entrance exam and IIMs should try to incorporate these into CAT as well in order to bring a higher level of transparency.”
B-School directors also cite examples of other public competitive examinations where releasing question paper and answer key has become a norm for exam authorities. As Prof P K Biswas, Director, Institute for Financial Management and Research – IFMR, says, “I feel we should have more transparency regarding CAT exam. There should be no issue in publishing CAT questions and answer keys. In UPSC exam, for civil services most of the questions are available. So, why can’t we publish CAT questions?”
IMT Ghaziabad Director, Dr Atish Chattopadhyay says that IIMs should have started releasing the question paper and answer keys long back as it is happening with majority exams. “It is surprising that it has not happened till date. Take the example of pre-medical examination AIPMT. They received more than 6 lakh applications and every student can do an OMR check, know what the right answers are, and challenge each of the answers. Then, the answer keys are frozen before the announcement of results. So it is nothing new in India. Even in the AIIMS exam the same thing happens which is similar in scale to that of IIMs.” He adds that if IIMs still resist from releasing the question paper and answer keys then people will more often doubt their testing process.
The IMT director, who was the then Dean of MICA in 2016, had changed the testing processes to publish raw scores of MICA test for candidates. “There was so much of hoopla regarding this when I was at MICA. We changed the selection process. We made everything very-very transparent. Transparency today is not an option!” he says.
Why do IIMs hide normalisation formula?
One of the key concerns among CAT aspirants is the lack of transparency which happens in the form of normalisation, a complex algorithmic process that raises various doubts and questions among the test-takers. B-schools say that IIMs should try and again take cues from another major B-School entrance exam, XAT, which is conducted in a highly transparent manner and leaves not an iota of doubt among the aspirants. Prof Sanjeev Bansal, Dean, Faculty of Management Studies, Amity University says that the formula or computation method of CAT score normalisation should be mentioned clearly in the CAT website to bring more transparency in the system.
Some B-schools say that IIMs can scrap the normalisation process by conducting CAT in single slot. Prof M P Gupta of DMS-IIT Delhi says, “XAT takes place in one time slot all over India and this eliminates the need for any normalization of marks that happens among different slots.”
Despite being part of the CAT testing system, the IIM directors that Careers360 spoke to, evaded a direct reply on whether question paper and answer key should be released, saying that such questions should be best directed to the IIM committee that works on CAT.
IIM Indore Director Dr Hrishikesh T Krishnan, who spoke on this issue, said that CAT is already held in a transparent manner. He, however, added that “improvement is a process and suggestions that can make the process better can always be considered.”
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