The GMAT Exam Turns 60

RESTON, VA (February 3, 2014) — The first standardized exam specifically for graduate study of business in the US—the precursor to the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) exam— was administered on February 6, 1954, to 1,291 potential graduate business students at more than 100 sites, predominately in the US and Canada but also in London, Paris, and New Delhi.

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More than 9 million exams later, the Graduate Management Admission Council delivers a quarter-million GMAT exams year-round at approximately 600 test centers in 113 countries. The test is today the most widely accepted and preferred for admissions to the world’s leading business schools, used by more than 6,000 management programs in 83 countries around the world.

“The GMAT has evolved from a paper-and-pencil test delivered a few times a year to a computer adaptive test available year-round, all over the world,” says Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC, the global council of business schools. “Alongside management programs that have become more complex, global enterprises, the GMAT exam has evolved to measure the skills needed for success, and to help match students from around the world with the schools and programs in which they can thrive and grow their careers and their lives. The GMAT exam isn’t just a test you take – it’s the test that takes you places.”

The GMAT traces its roots back to the early 1950s, when US business schools, faced with greater demand for graduate business degrees, sought a test to add fairness and consistency to the admission process. Representatives from nine business schools —Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, Rutgers, Seton Hall, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University in St. Louis—developed the Admission Test for Graduate Study of Business.

Although all nine business schools were from the US, they understood the need for an international exam both as a means of attracting international students and for promoting graduate management education on a global stage.

Today’s GMAT exam assesses test-takers’ reasoning skills and their ability to utilize and interpret data to solve problems. Across six decades, the GMAT exam has achieved numerous milestones, including:

  • The introduction of the Integrated Reasoning section, which measures the ability to use data presented from multiple sources and in different formats to solve problems (2012).
  • The transition from paper and pencil to computer adaptive format (1997).
  • The introduction of the Analytical Writing Assessment (1994), making the GMAT the first standardized test to use computer scoring of essays.
  • The introduction of Data Sufficiency questions, which ask the test taker how much data are needed to solve a problem rather than to actually solve it (1961).
About GMAC: The Graduate Management Admission Council ( is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools and owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT exam), used by more than 6,000 graduate business and management programs worldwide. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London, New Delhi and Hong Kong. The GMAT exam -- the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide -- is continuously available at more than 590 test centers in 113 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at For more information about GMAC, please visit