Note on the alleged leak of CAT 2016 questions

While the CAT exam has been going on for the last few years with very few and minor glitches, there seems to be a problem area this year, in CAT16 conducted today. It appears that someone managed to transmit at least some of the questions from a CAT centre in the afternoon slot, while the exam was still going on.

Screenshots of the exam screen from an alleged post on a social site/forum have been making rounds on Whatsapp/Facebook from around 3.00 pm. Test-takers who took the CAT in the afternoon slot confirmed that the questions appearing in the screenshots were indeed there in the test that they appeared for. For good measure, those questions were shown to students who took the test in the first slot and they confirmed that those questions were not a part of the paper in the first slot.

The only time the CAT paper leaked was during CAT2003. After that instance of paper-leak in 2003, there has been no instance of a paper leak in the CAT conducted by the IIMs. In fact, after the CAT became an online/computer-based test, the IIMs have put in stringent conditions in place preventing students from disclosing the questions even after the completion of the test – and it has worked fairly well.

Now, this leak, if it were one, has two possibilities. The first is that a test-taker transmitted some of the questions outside the exam hall just to show his/her abilities to beat the system. The second is that a student sent these questions out to some contact of his/her with an objective of getting answers to the questions that he/she wanted to answer. Of course, the answers could come into the exam hall through the same route that the questions went out.

Students are obviously concerned about this leak and how it will affect their selection chances. The IIMs will need to investigate what exactly happened – they should do it on topmost priority. This is required for calming the students' anxiety and to assure them that the sanctity of the test has not been compromised or if it has been necessary action will be taken. Based on the findings, they should decide on the course of action.

If the IIMs find that the leak is a very localised one, they may not take a drastic action like cancellation of the entire exam. If they cancel the entire exam or the afternoon slot, it is likely to put thousands of students to major inconvenience. But, of course, the IIMs have the responsibility of upholding the sanctity of the test and ensuring that the students don’t lose out because of any malpractice indulged in by a few test-takers.

While we understand the frustration that test takers, especially those in the 2nd slot, may be feeling, we would like to highlight that the IIMs have been known to act very swiftly and responsibly in the past and there is every reason to believe that they would do so this time also.

So, keep calm and wait for the IIMs to announce their official stance on this.