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CAT candidates cry foul

Calcutta, Nov. 23: They spent two stressful hours — 11 am to 1 pm — today, but at least there was an end in sight. Instead, the real tension began hours after it was all supposed to be over for candidates appearing for the common admission test (CAT) 2003.

The students had “no clue” that the exam for an entry into an Indian institute of management was going to be scrapped, till well after they left the centres, till the televisions were switched on and news spread of a paper-leak scam.

“I was sure that I would get through the IIMs. Now, who knows'” shrugs a despondent Saurabh Baid, 20. “I felt I could score around 75 per cent, while we have been told that 65 per cent is the usual cutoff for IIMs. If the next paper is hard, this cancellation could ruin many careers,” says the third-year student of B.Com at St Xavier’s College.

Although some students struggled with the mathematics questions, the English and data interpretation sections were easier than expected at today’s test.

When will the next date be' How difficult will it be' These two questions hung in the November air. With the Chartered Financial Analysts exams looming large in January and a host of other entrance tests for institutes like XLRI and FMS Delhi lined up, the prospect of studying and sitting for CAT all over again is daunting.

The option of applying for an MBA course abroad — in Saurabh’s case, in the UK — is looking the more attractive — and feasible — option.

Not just the six IIMs, over 40 business schools shortlist candidates on the basis of CAT scores. Sunday’s event will jeopardise the selection schedule and the session for all the leading business schools.

Speculation about the next date for CAT was rife in Calcutta. A date in February will be devastating for commerce students of Calcutta University, as the Part II exam has been brought forward from April to March.

“This will affect our preparation. With CAT getting out of the way by December, we have four to five months to prepare for the finals,” adds third-year student Siddharth Agarwal.

IIMs have slipped into a wait-and-watch mode. “We will meet in a couples of days to work out our future course of action,” said U. Dinesh Kumar of IIM Calcutta. Kumar, who is a member of the CAT group, a body with representatives from all the six IIMs, that conducts the test, added: “Lot of hard work goes into the test and we are really shocked by the news of the leak.”

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