Technology, with all its positives, can be a bane sometimes, especially for students taking a standardised test. Recently, the organisers of the CAT tried to take down the exam questions posted on online forums. Is there are fool proof way?

Picture this. You took the Common Admission Test (CAT) in the initial phase, and those who took it later had an unfair advantage in the form of questions posted online! This is not a figment of our imaginations, but in reality is something that the organizers of the CAT are grappling with.

In this case, the organisers have gotten in touch with a few online portals which are allowing students to share the actual questions asked in the test. Even with the officials saying that it might be difficult to figure out the identities of the problem makers, there is a palpable panic created in the minds of those who already took the test.

“I know that it is not the fault of the organizers, but there has to be another method. Why should any student get an unfair advantage over the others? Even if it is not certain whether the questions shared will be repeated, it certainly favours the subsequent students since they can gauge the difficulty level of the exam,” says Shashank Desai, who took his CAT last month.

Such problems, however, are not exclusive to the CAT only, though technology has made it very easy to share material. “I remember our practical exams in all the three science papers – physics, chemistry and biology during our ICSE. They were held on the same day for three different batches of students. The three sessions were at

8 am, 11 am and 2 pm. All students who were taking the exam at 2 were required to come in at 10.30 and were locked in a room so that they would not interact with the first batch at all. This way, the school tried and prevented the possibilities of cheating. I know locking students in a room is not possible for the CAT, but the organizers should have anticipated this problem and provided for it,” says management professional Ashrafa Ali.

Rohit Kapoor, convenor of CAT 2013 maintains that it will take some time to find out if the questions were shared at all. He has talked about conducting internal checks as well. Since the CAT is conducted over a span of 20 days, there is a chance that the questions might be repeated, even if the test is conducted with different sets of papers.

“In such a situation, it is very difficult to catch the perpetrators. Technology is a boon, but can be a bane on occasion, and this is one such occasion. Multiple fake identities can easily be created on the net, and questions can be easily shared. There is no way of telling how big or small the problem is, without conducting any checks,” says computer science engineer Palak Shah, who’s company specialises in providing online solutions for education.

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