The examination system in India made a giant leap when Pro-metric, a US based firm conducted online CAT (Common Admission Test) for admission into IIMS and 150 B-schools in 2009. Despite, technical glitches and mismanagement, online CAT proved to be easier and convenient for our country. But it also saw a drastic dip in the number of CAT aspirants as compared to 2008.
Though the concept of online exams is new to our country many exams are going the paperless way. Many exams like GRE, GMAT and SAT have become online. These exams are conducted by ETS – a US based firm. While it’s a great thing that tons of paper is being saved by these exams. Around 1000 trees were saved in 2009 as CAT went online. However certain loopholes in the efficacy of the online testing system prevent it from becoming a perfect substitute for exams on paper.
A major problem is that a majority of applicants come from small towns and rural areas and therefore they are not as tech-savvy as city people. It becomes difficult for them to adopt the new e-learning formats. Though a number of coaching institutes have started offering online practice sessions, it is still tedious for those who lack basic computer skills
Another problem is the availability of infrastructure, which is not proportionately distributed all over the country. There are many places in our country where they are no energy support systems or proper places to conduct online tests. However, online exams are significant as they cater to millions of examinees located far away. These online formats speed up the process, involves minimum paperwork and increases staff efficiency. Moreover error can be rectified in real time with these formats.
Looking at the other side, the online tests are not benefiting our country on the whole. A number of surveys have concluded that the online format is not proving successful here. Many have questioned UGC whether it is actually making the entire admission process easier. One has to fill up his/her basic data online first, find a particular bank branch, pay the fee, complete the formalities online and after getting a print out of the whole thing, submit it by post. Is it that easy? And what is UGC going to do about rural applicants who sometimes have to travel several kilometers to reach cyber cafes?
An astonishing fact is that a huge number of students in metropolitan cities despite having computer education have not been able to adapt to the new format. But in years to come it would prove as a boon as people would get acquainted to it.
We surely cannot ignore that the online exams are inevitable in today’s world. However, it should address the concerns of all. Also, we should get used to the new eco-friendly way of giving exams!