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Students question CAT results

CAT results are out, but the students are not satisfied with the ‘normalised’ scores
The much awaited results for CAT 2009 have finally arrived. However, a number of test-takers are not satisfied with the results of the first-ever online CAT. In particular, those who took the test on 5th and 6th Of December have reported erratic and unexpected scores. Ajay (name changed), a CAT taker from Thane said, “I took my test on Dec 6 and I have got 95 percentile overall, owing to my 70 percentile in Verbal Ability. Although VA is tricky ground, I have always done well in VA and it is my strength. I have even got 99 percentile in XAT and scored 99 percentile in CAT last year too. I’m still in shock as all my other sectionals are pretty good, and I lost out only due to this.”

A user on the popular portal Pagalguy.com, named Vikranth Reddy, who took his test on 3 Dec reported getting a 28 percentile in Verbal Ability and refuses to believe that he could have done so badly after scoring 95+ in each of the other sections. Another user, IIM_Aspirant_ , who took the test on 5 December, reported getting a score of 34.34 percentile in Verbal after getting 99+ in the other sections. There is a whole thread
on the website dedicated to the topic, and students are considering filing RTIs.

The CAT was conducted in two phases over 10 days:- from November 29 – December 7, 2009 and then on 30th and 31st January. Thousands of students had to undergo retests due to mismanagement of the examination in the first phase.

The students are unhappy about the lack of transparency in the marking scheme and the manner in which scores have been arrived at. Unlike the paper based test where the whole country had the same questions, questions in each slot were different, and to cope with that, the Prometric-IIM was to apply a normalisation technique. According to the CAT website, these are the “scaled scores arrived at by establishing psychometric equivalences to adjust for any variation in difficulty levels across the tests”. This is a variance from the earlier statement by the IIMs where they maintained that a “uniform level of difficulty would be maintained” across all tests.

ARKS Srinivas, Director, TIME (a coaching class) said, “Firstly, there is a very high probability that the answers haven’t been captured by the system. Secondly, I think they might have got some keys wrong. Even when there was a single question paper, mistakes used to appear, and now there are 25 different papers!

And thirdly, it is criminal injustice to not inform the students about the system of normalisation and marking scheme. This is not GRE where there is a huge bank of questions developed over the years. CAT is a whole new ballgame. It’s not adaptive and psychometric analysis isn’t applicable here at all. The only guess I can take here is that a generic formula has been applied to arrive at the results.”

But Kamlesh Sajnani, MD IMS Learning Resources Ltd, begged to differ. He said, ” I think we should either trust the IIMs totally or not at all. There are bound to be some hiccups in this period of transition, which will be ironed out. The students should now just concentrate on the upcoming GDPIs and prepare for them. Don’t worry too much about your scores.”

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