GMAT was started in the year 1953. 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, met and planned to establish a standardized way to assess qualified candidates for the skills required in the business school.

This meeting resulted in the creation of the Admission Test for Graduate Study in Business (ATGSB). The name was changed in 1976 and now it is known as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). The test is so named because it is used as a selection criterion for business graduate schools. The GMAT is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC. 

In the first year, 2553 students signed up to take the test. Only 50 schools received exam scores in the first year. As time went on, the GMAT gained traction and became popular test for business school admissions. Now, more than 2,50,000 exams are given in a year and more than 2,100 business schools use the test as part of their admissions process.

Business schools traditionally required the GMAT for admission. Most business schools now also accept the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) in its place. The majority of applicants still take the GMAT to apply to business school.

How GMAT Changed Over Years

The GMAT has always tested verbal and quantitative skills. The Analogy and Antonym questions were taken out as it relied heavily on the English language and did not favor non-native English speakers.

The AWA section (Analytical Writing Assessment) was added in 1994 to provide business schools an assessment of the applicant’s writing skills.

The CAT (computer-based) format was implemented in 1997 to modernize the test. With its ability to choose questions based on your previous answers, each GMAT exam is unique.

The Integrated Reasoning (IR) section in was included in 2012. This section asks you to evaluate data from passages, charts, and graphs.

In 2015, The Graduate Management Admission Council introduced four key features to the GMAT exam to improve and streamline the GMAT exam experience. These features are 16-day retest policy, preview your scores, score cancellation and enhanced score report.

In 2017, option for select section order was added to the GMAT where test takers can choose the order in which they can complete the sections of the GMAT exam.

From April 16, 2018, the GMAT exam is shortened by 30 minutes to a 3.5-hour exam, including the breaks and test instructions.