Posted by: Alison Damast on December 8, 2009
Thousands of Indian business school applicants who signed up for the online admission test for India’s most prestigious management schools were in for a rude surprise after the exam was found to be plagued by computer viruses and malware. Nearly 20,000 students across India had their exams rescheduled after problems with the exam were found at testing labs across the country, according to a report in India’s Economic Times.
This year was the first time that the Common Admission Test (CAT), the exam required by the seven state-sponsored Indian Institutes of Management, was offered online. There were 241,582 students registered for this year’s exam, 45,000 of whom were slated to take the new computer-based exam. Prometric, a U.S.-based test administration company, was contracted to deliver the test online on 17,000 computers in 32 cities across India during the testing period between Nov. 28 and Dec. 7. But problems arose on the first day of testing on Nov. 28, when 47 testing labs experienced virus problems and persisted over the next few days.
A notice on the official CAT Web site states:
Some testing labs have been experiencing technical difficulties mainly due to viruses and malware. Prometric is continually assessing these labs and should testing not be possible for any session at specific labs, affected candidates will be contacted by SMS and email. Rescheduling of these candidates will then be done and new appointments communicated again via SMS and email.
Students were allowed to reschedule their exam for another time period during the testing window, and the testing period was extended an extra day – Dec. 8 – to allow for retesting, according to a notice on the CAT Web site. However, there is concern that not all impacted students will be able to retake the exam within this year’s testing window, and many students still remain uncertain when they will be able to take the exam, according to reports in the Indian press.
A spokeswoman from Prometric did not return a phone call seeking comment.
But a press release issued by Prometric offers some hope to impacted test takers:
While the main testing window for the CAT 2009 will end on 8 December 2009 as scheduled, any registered candidate who may not have had an opportunity to complete testing by that date will be intimated of a subsequent date and venue for testing over the coming weeks. All candidates can be assured that they will receive an opportunity to test.
Sushma Swaraj, the leader of India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, called the testing problems a “national shame,” according to a Dec. 1 story in the Hindustan Times.
“We call ourselves an IT superpower but we could not hold a successful online test. This is a national shame,” Swaraj told reporters last week.
Readers, have you had to reschedule your CAT exam? How do you think the IIMs and Prometric have been handling the situation?