Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not just CAT,now its...."CAT and MOUSE"

"CAT goes online", screamed all the newspapers a couple of weeks back. Though, the IIMs have not come out clearly on the 'what and how' of CAT Online, Here is what IMS contemplates :

Paper Based Tests v/s Online Tests

With the CAT going online, the question on top of everyone's mind is
"How will the computer based test be different from the traditional paper based test?"

In this section, we try to highlight the possible implications of the CAT going online. Note that the following is only indicative and a better assessment will only be possible after the IIMs give out more information on the testing process to be followed this year.

Paper Based Tests Online Tests

Pre-test Application Buying Offline : Available at Axis Bank branches Online / Offline
Application Submission Offline: Mail to IIMs Probably Online with offline verification process
Test Date 3rd Sunday of November 10 day window towards the end of this year (sometime in Nov/Dec)
Test Centres 23 Test Centres 23 Test Centres*
Test Time 10:00 am - 1:00 pm Different time slots available over a 10 day period, to be booked on a first come first serve basis
Admit Card Mailed to candidates mailing address/ Available online Will Probably be available online

Test Day Test Registration Details to be marked on a OMR Details to be entered online
Sectional Time No sectional time limits, Sections can be answered in any order, candidate can also jump to and fro across sections Test can enforce sectional time limits with sections to be answered in a fixed order: candidate may not be allowed to go back to previous sections
In this scenario, test takers can no longer spend more time on their areas of strength to maximise their scores
Navigation Student can view all questions at a time : may choose to solve questions in any order Candidate may be able to view only one question at a time: may need to solve questions in a fixed order
Candidates may be allowed to flag a question so that they may return to it later
Test Questions Same for all students Different set of questions (with similar level of difficulty) will be administered to students
Alternatively, the test may have an adaptive logic ala GMAT
Test Format CAT keeps changing, and the candidates do not know the same until they get the test paper in hand. The test will most probably have a fixed format that will probably be specified in the CAT bulletin
Time per Q There is no mechanism to capture time spent on each question by the student In an online format, the testing body can capture and analyse the time spent on each of the questions to arrive at some meaningful information
Readability Easy to navigate, especially while solving Reading Comprehension passages and Data Interpretation caselets Candidate may need to scroll up/down to read the entire passage, thereby causing inconvenience.
Working Notes Marking important lines, making working calculations besides the question is easy with pen and paper Candidate will now have to read the test online and make notes offline, which probably need more time than the corresponding paper based process
Essay Test does not include an essay, simply because it would be difficult for the test body to evaluate the same Like GMAT and GRE, a candidate may now have to submit an essay online. However, the essay might be used only at the second stage of evaluation.

Test Prep Skills required Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretive and Logical Ability Additionally, one would need basic computer skills : the candidate should be comfortable using the keyboard and mouse
Concept Learning Candidate needs to be thorough in concepts tested in the CAT: complete the BRMS, attend classes, use helplines, take the support of your instructors/mentors Nothing changes really!!
Practice Test one's conceptual understanding by solving questions that require you to apply them. Additionally, one should hone one's basic computer skills by making the practice comp-based.
Simulation One needs to take sufficient number of tests in a truly simulated environment Nothing changes except that the candidate now needs to get acclimatized to a comp-based testing environment

Post Test Analysis One can go on and on with question by question analysis of the test, detailed test solutions, possible good scores/percentiles… Limited scope for analysis, as there would be no test paper to be carried back home for such a detailed analysis
Results Available after one and a half months May be available within a very short span of time
Frequency CAT is conducted only once a year, scores are valid for current year only CAT may be conducted multiple times with validity over an extended period

Source : IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd

What is most important : Concept Learning,nothing changes !!

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