CAT 2014 exam: Why TCS got CAT 2014 and Prometric lost

Saturday, May 24 2014, 03:55 AM
US based firm Prometric lost to TCS as the next 5 years testing agency of CAT conducted by IIMs for entrance to their management programmes.
The obvious reason of Prometric losing to TCS, apart from contract period getting over and financial aspect, is their past performance

Prometric will no longer be seen associated to CAT conducting partner of IIMs at least for next 5 years. CAT aspirants in 2014 will miss the Prometric logo of sideways looking half Sun with 5 rays.

The US based firm Prometric lost to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as the next 5 years testing agency of Combined Admission Test (CAT) conducted by Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for entrance to their management programmes. was the first to announce the prospective association of TCS with IIMs for conducting CAT. 

TCS has emerged the winner in grabbing the contract leaving behind not only Prometric but also other bidders that included Aptech, Eduquity Career Technologies, MeritTrac Services.  The contract awarded to TCS by IIMs as their CAT Testing Partner effective from CAT 2014 will cost IIMs Rs. 29 crores ($ 5 million). The contract in 2009 was awarded to Prometric at a whopping price of $ 40 million. 

The obvious reason of Prometric losing to TCS, apart from contract period getting over and financial aspect, is their past performance. There have been reports of malfunctioning of system, technical problems in the testing rooms, problems in score inflation which also caused embarrassment to IIMs. Since 2009 CAT conveners have had to face the brunt of such problems.

TCS visualizes the better performance in conducting CAT as testing agency with effect from 2014 in partnership with IIMs. CAT aspirants are hopeful that there would not be any major technical problem in CAT 2014 with TCS at the steering wheel. Faculty at IIM Indore, Dr Rohit Kapoor who was the convener CAT 2013 has been re-designated the convener for CAT 2014. He has already started working on various aspects of anticipated problems with TCS during the forthcoming CAT testing window and is quite confident that nothing of the sort should recur.  

The first green CAT 2009: Prometric taken off guard

CAT which used to be a paper pencil based test till 2008 got the idea of going green in 2009. US based firm Prometric was awarded the job of IIMs’ CAT Testing agency and the first computer based on line CAT was conducted in 2009. While Prometric was the testing agency, NIIT was its delivery partner for CAT 2009.

The 10 days CAT test window instead of becoming a pleasant experience for MBA aspirants in 2009 turned into a nightmare in the first test itself.   Around 8000 candidates couldn’t take the test due technical glitches, erratic functioning of test labs, viruses.  For the candidates who were deprived of taking the test due to one or other problem, the CAT 2009 tests had to be reset. Candidates appeared again for taking CAT. All this exercise caused inordinate delay in results.

Not only the convener of CAT 2009 Prof Satish Y Deodhar of IIM Ahmedabad became the eye of storm, the technical problems in the test daunted the image of IIMs. On the top of it HRD Ministry also took cognizance of these developments and demanded detailed report from the CAT convening team. Prometric being an outside agency, remained unaffected despite the criticism and continued stating that it would improve the things in future.

CAT 2010 & 2011: Dent of 2009 caused the dip

The first adverse effect of Online CAT 2009 reflected in CAT 2010 which was the dip in CAT registrations. Number of aspirants registered for CAT 2010 reduced from 2.41 lacs in 2009 to 2.04 lacs causing much embarrassment and putting a question mark on future of CAT exam. Prometric decided to do away with NIIT and opted for a longer period of CAT testing window. The idea was to provide more choices to the candidates and work on improved technology to conduct the CAT 2010 so that testing experience could be improved.

The preparation before hand to fight the unanticipated technical problems resulted in fewer technical problems but the damage was already done and Candidates needed to be reassured on the smooth conduct of examination year after year.

Prometric in CAT 2011 in consultation with IIMs decided to club entire test in 2 sections of 70 minutes each with 30 questions per section. Data interpretation was clubbed to Quantitative Ability as the first section whilse second section was composed of Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. No candidate was allowed to exercise the option to ‘Quit Test’ after the first section.

Although the conduct of examination remained a little smooth with fewer technical problems and prometric thought all was well but the first day of CAT 2011 was confronted with technical problems. Candidates at the testing lab at IBSAR Centre Navi Mumbai had to fight against the login problems, crashing computers and it took around 30 minutes to get the same operational.

Disasters of CAT 2012 and 2013

CAT 2012 had a scores goof up that could shake up the credibility of CAT exam. IIMs had also admitted that CAT scorecards available officially to non-IIMs for admission year 2012-13 were ‘tampered’ with inflated scores of some candidates. It was shared by IIMs that scorecards of as many as 80 testing IDs available on official CAT website have been found inflated as compared to the actual scores available with IIMs in the master datasheet of CAT 2012 scorecards.

Top non-IIM B-schools offered admissions on the basis of CAT 2012 scores and this caused a fresh controversy on entire admission process for academic year 2013-15 conducted on the basis of CAT 2012 scores.

IIMs had to issue alerts and the actual scores from the master database were provided to the Non IIMs where admissions were sought on the basis of such inflated scores. This left the IIMs to go into the process reviewing mode on the future of CAT.


TCS: Need to restore trust

Lot of controversy over the scoring and normalization process broke lose after the declaration of the CAT 2013 results.  Many candidates not satisfied with the system preferred to take the legal route for addressing their grievances. According to the reports 95K candidates scored zero or negative score. This led to filing a plea in the Indore High Court since IIM Indore convened the CAT 2013.

All this got accumulated over a period of 5 years. Besides awarding the job to Prometric was a costlier affair. TCS has now come into the picture and it remains to be seen how good it performs in CAT 2014. The modalities of CAT 2014 are being finalised by TCS in consultation with the CAT 2014 convening IIM Indore. Going by the reputation and expertise of TCS, aspirants can expect the CAT 2014 as better organised, smooth with almost no technical problems during the testing window.

The road ahead for TCS is not very easy. The testing agency will have to deploy all out efforts to increase the number of CAT 2014 test takers as well as to ensure that CAT 2014 is conducted smoothly. The brand CAT needs a makeover to attract more candidates especially women and non-engineers. has always been the first portal to bring out confirmed and latest news on CAT 2014 exams and CAT 2014 exam preparations.

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