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New CAT 2009 format for IIMs to cost HRD ministry $40 million dollars

Guess what the 2009 CAT for admissions to IIMs will cost the HRD ministry? A whopping $40 million dollars! 

Prometric, a leading provider of technology-enabled testing and assessment services, has bagged the contract to computerise the test from this year. Nearly 2.5 lakh students take the test for a mere 1,500 seats in the seven IIMs.

After following the paper-pencil format for 33 years, the Common Admission Test (CAT), touted as one of the toughest entrance tests for entry into IIMs, is said to be the most expensive test too.

Confirming that Prometric had bagged the CAT contract, Ramesh Nava, vice-president and general manager, Asia Pacific, Japan and Africa said: “We’ve bagged an exclusive $40-million contract. We currently employ 200 people in India. For CAT 2009, we’ll add resources including dedicated test development team.”

Unlike in the past, the test this year will not be a one-day affair. It’ll be held over 10 days towards the end of November. Till 2008, CAT was held only on the third Sunday of November every year. “We’re working on test design and construction, application development and processing, test registration/scheduling, centre preparations, test administration, scoring and reporting,” Nava said.

Not surprisingly, the IIMs are possessive about CAT. “The test is ours. We are only using their delivery channel. The whole idea is to provide flexibility to students. That is why the test spans ten days,” says IIM-Bangalore director Pankaj Chandra.

Maintaining that the difficulty level and number of attempts for students will remain unchanged, Chandra said all IIMs are involved in the conduct of CAT. “Since this is first time after three decades that the way it’s conducted is changed, there will be no fresh changes. All conditions will be the same. It’ll be held in 23 cities. If it stabilises, we may think of taking it to more cities.”

According to Prof Satish Deodhar of IIM-Ahmedabad, who is coordinating the conduct of CAT 2009, the fees has been fixed at Rs 1,400 for general category students and Rs 700 for SC/ST students.

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