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January 2014

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The GMAT® Exam Celebrates 60 Years

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. Today, a quarter-million GMAT exams are administered on computer each year at 600 test centers in 112 countries, and the exam is accepted by more than 6,000 management programs around the world. 

Here are key milestones in the exam’s 60-year history:

1953: Officials 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—meet with the Educational Testing Service to develop a standardized test for admission to graduate business school.

GMAT is 60 Years Strong

1954: A total of 1,291 potential business students take the first Admission Test for Graduate Study of Business on February 6, sending scores to 54 different business schools. Two more sittings are held in May and August, bringing the total number of test takers up to almost 3,000 for the first year.

1957: The first major validity study shows the ATGSB is a valid predictor of first year business school grades.

1959: Carnegie and Ford Foundation reports criticize business schools for lacking intellectual rigor; the Ford Foundation reports encourages more schools to use the ATGSB and raise their admission standards.

1961: Data Sufficiency questions, which ask test takers how much data are needed to answer a question rather than to actually solve the question, are added to the exam.

1970: The Graduate Business Admissions Council is incorporated.

1976: The GBAC changes its name to the Graduate Management Admission Council and changes the name of the test to the Graduate Management Admission Test. Analogy and Antonym questions, dropped in 1961 and added back in 1966, are dropped for good.

1982: Usage questions, introduced in 1976, are changed to the current Sentence Correction format.

1994: The Analytical Writing Assessment, consisting of two 30-minute essays, is added. Most other sections are shortened.

1997: The GMAT exam moves from paper-and pencil to computer adaptive format. The new format is more secure, and it also allows the test to be administered year-round at test centers around the world rather than at scheduled test administrations four times a year.

2006: GMAC changes testing partners, from the Educational Testing Service to ACT and Pearson VUE. The test itself does not change, but administration is administered at Pearson VUE test centers allowing for better accessibility worldwide.

2012: Integrated Reasoning section, with four new question types measuring the ability to use data from multiple sources and in different formats, makes its debut. One 30-minute AWA essay is dropped to keep the testing time to 3 hours, 30 minutes.

2014: The GMAT exam is delivered at 600 test centers in 112 countries and accepted at more than 6,000 graduate management programs around the world.

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