From next year, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and people of Indian origin (PIO)will be able to appear for the Common Admission Test (CAT). Conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), CAT is scheduled to hit international shores in 2013.
Currently, international students have to write the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) to seek admission to the IIMs.
Prometric, the testing partner for the IIMs, will take the IIMs and CAT examination international. Prometric has a five-year contract with the IIMs for conducting the computer-based CAT in India. The company had earlier confirmed to Business Standard that it would partner the IIMs in exporting CAT to foreign business schools.
“We were planning to make CAT global this October. However, due to some cost issues, we may make it international only next year. It is strategically important for CAT to go global,” said the director of one of the IIMs.
The director explained that the IIMs have signed a new memorandum of association (MoA), which provide them the freedom to operate independently, and are waiting for the MoA to get established. Only after that will the global plans for CAT take wings, he added.
The IIMs are governed by an MoA approved by the government.
“There are many countries which have student characteristics similar to that of Indian students. Many Asian countries have already been requesting us to bring CAT to them. I think this has been a big draw,” added another IIM director.
The IIMs say that CAT could also be conducted exclusively for international B-schools. Those in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and West Asia want the IIMs to conduct CAT. Most admissions at these B-schools are through the GMAT.
However, the nuances of taking CAT are still being finalised. For instance, clarity would be required if students can take CAT several times in an academic year. A candidate is allowed to take the GMAT five times in an academic year.
Besides, the issue of whether CAT scores will be valid for more than a year needs to be decided. GMAT scores, for instance, are valid for five years.
Like GMAT, the CAT also assesses the potential of applicants for courses in business studies at the graduate level.
Although both the examinations require the same skill set, experts say the biggest advantage of CAT is that it discriminates at the top. Whereas, GMAT discriminates in the middle. Thus, institutes accepting CAT will be able to get the crème de la crème of students.
GMAT is an adaptive test, while CAT is just a linear computer-based test. In an adaptive test, a student taking the exam must answer every question that comes on the screen to proceed to the next question. This means the student cannot skip a question or go back to an already-attempted question.