Sucheta Dalal :Forensic testing for CAT: Will it be in vain?
Sucheta Dalal

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Forensic testing for CAT: Will it be in vain?   

December 18, 2009

The computerised Common Admission Test (CAT) will now be subject to application of psychometric expertise and forensic testing to ensure fairness and validity of the test results. This is expected to figure out the batch of students likely to take a retest in January 2010. However, experts believe that this move would just be another futile attempt.


Psychometric analysis is a standardised procedure for measuring sensitivity, memory, intelligence, aptitude or personality of a candidate. Vijay Mukhi, a well-known cyber expert said, “Forensic testing will not be able to identify the students who faced the problem. If they conduct the testing from the server side, all Prometric will receive is the series of questions that have been answered.”


Mr Mukhi explained, “Forensic testing (which is used to explain the current state of a computer system, storage device or document) is used when you want to probe into a crime and there is no crime involved here. I don’t know why they are doing this testing because a very simple reason is that the viruses shouldn’t have entered the system in the first place. Forensics will only prove from where the virus came from. We are already aware of this.”


About 2.42 lakh candidates registered for CAT 2009. About 2.16 lakh candidates completed the test successfully. The CAT committee yesterday said that about 24,000 students did not show up for the test. Another 2,000 candidates, who were rescheduled from the first testing window, remain to be tested.


Students who were genuinely affected by the technical glitches and are thus worried about the fairness and results of the testing procedure will get a retest after Prometric completes the entire reviewing process which will be held in mid-January 2010.


Prometric (India) managing director Soumitra Roy told PTI, "Prometric and the IIMs will be following industry-standard procedures to evaluate the answers. This consists of a combination of computer analysis and the application of psychometric expertise to ensure fairness and validity of the test results. We will contact them (the candidates) to reschedule the examination.”


Prometric has already said that the answers have been not been affected by the virus attacks which disrupted the test from the beginning. It has further said that it was in the process of identifying candidates who have failed to appear for the test.


According to Mr Mukhi, the real problem that Prometric faces is that it will have to prove that when the results were sent to the main server, no one would have had the ability to change the marks on the master server. Mr Mukhi also warned that failure in ruling out this possibility, could lead to litigation from the students.


“The fact is that they used machines (for the examination) that were used for other purposes. Hence the virus attack (took place),” Mr Mukhi added.
Lorain Viegas


-- Sucheta Dalal