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Time-Tested GMAT Exam Still Evolving at 55

The GMAT exam has set the standard for graduate business admission testing for more than five decades. What started as a paper test used by 10 US schools back in 1954 has evolved into a computer adaptive exam delivered year-round, under state-of-the-art test security, around the world. This timeline highlights milestones in the GMAT’s rich history of growth and innovation.

1953

  • Nine graduate business schools meet to discuss creating a standardized graduate business school admissions test.

1954

  • Admission Test for Graduate Study in Business (ATGSB) first administered; 10 schools require the test. Exams are administered on February 6, 1954, and May 13, 1954, for admission to fall 1954 classes. A third testing session is held October 28, 1954. A total of 2,957 tests are delivered for the year.

1957

  • First study of ATGSB validity conducted, using data from 10 business schools.

1958

  • 5,200 US students graduate with MBAs; 27 schools require the ATGSB; 7,707 tests are taken.

1961

  • Data Sufficiency questions, developed specifically for the GMAT exam to measure a test taker’s ability to analyze quantitative problems, are introduced.

1965

  • 14 schools require ATGSB; 40,601 tests are taken.

1966

  • Analysis of Situations, a precursor to the verbal Critical Reasoning section, is added.

1970

  • Graduate Business Admissions Council (GBAC) is organized as an education corporation.

1976

  • ATGSB is renamed the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT); the Graduate Business Admission Council (GBAC) changes its name to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

1982

  • 205,824 GMAT tests taken. The Official Guide to GMAT Review is first published.

1988

  • 212,976 GMAT tests taken.

1994

  • Analytical Writing Assessment added to the GMAT exam.

1997

  • Computer adaptive GMAT launches October 1.

1998

  • First full year of computer adaptive GMAT testing; 178,138 tests taken.

2002

  • 249,632 GMAT exams taken—162,502 in the US, 87,130 abroad.

2003

  • 218,037 GMAT exams taken—145,707 in the United States, 72,330 outside the US.
  • More than 1,500 schools and 1,800 programs use the GMAT exam.

2006

  • GMAC partners with Pearson VUE and ACT to deliver the GMAT exam at more than 400 test centers in nearly 100 countries; test security measures include digital fingerprints to prevent cheating.
  • GMAT Mobile Test Center visits 49 colleges and universities in 27 states during a seven-month, cross-country journey to make GMAT more accessible to people interested in attending business school.

2008

  • GMAC launches state-of-the-art GMAT security—a biometric sensor to record unique pattern in test-takers’ palm veins to detect and prevent proxy test taking.
  • GMAT made available to military personnel in Baghdad; new testing centers also open in Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Oman.
  • Number of GMAT score reports received by programs in Europe increased 47 percent since 2004. Asian citizens represent 29 percent of GMAT tests taken globally. More than 11,280 GMAT tests were taken in China, compared with 4,507 in 2004.
  • GMAC shuts down Scoretop.com, a GMAT cheating site, when US federal court awards the Council US$2.3 million in a copyright infringement case.
  • After two successful cross-country US tours, the GMAT Mobile Test Center tours 14 cities in Canada.
  • Registrations for the GMAT exam total 298,734 worldwide, a 10.35 percent increase over 2007. Registration volume is up 20.15 percent outside US, up 4.28 percent in US.
  • Number of GMAT tests taken worldwide totals 264,641, up 11.6 percent over 2007.

2009

  • GMAT exam is used by more than 4,600 programs in 1,900 schools.
  • Researchers determine that GMAT validity has been underestimated; GMAT found to be even better predictor of future academic performance and persistence in graduate programs in business schools than previously thought.
  • Thoroughly revised and updated, The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition is released; includes 300 GMAT questions never before available to the public.

The future

GMAC has announced plans for the Next Generation GMAT to debut in 2013; innovations will use new testing technology and science to yield even more precise measures of skills, will measure additional skills appropriate for both traditional MBA and new business programs.

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