In 2008, the University of Hamburg, together with ITB Consulting GmbH, decided to develop a test for admission to master’s courses. This decision was based on the observation that the bachelor grades given at various universities differed significantly. As the University of Hamburg makes high demands on the bachelor courses and is rather strict in giving grades as compared to other universities, there was the fear that the own bachelor graduates will not have a fair chance to get an admission to a master’s course if selection is only based on the grades. As both national and international studies showed that cognitive tests proved to be successful for forecasting of study success, the decision was made to use such a test. However, the University of Hamburg did not want to use the tests already available on the market. One important reason for this were the test concepts. The relation to the field of studies was hardly visible and the tests seemed to be rather general aptitude tests than designed for a special field of studies. Secondly, they criticised the trainability of these tests: the success should not depend on the money and time invested in expensive preparation courses. Thirdly, the University of Hamburg considered the participation fees of these tests as being too high. Therefore, they decided to develop an own test together with the ITB Consulting GmbH which develops aptitude tests since the 1970s.
In spring 2009, test development started with two joint workshops made by ITB and representatives of the WISO faculty of the Universität Hamburg. During the first workshop the requirements of a master’s course were analysed. At the second workshop, ITB presented several types of exercises that are suitable for identification of the determined requirements. Then, these types of exercises were thoroughly discussed, and the final concept for the test was approved.
In summer 2009, development of a large number of test exercises started; these test exercises were tested with approx. 200 diploma students of the University of Hamburg in December 2009. The best exercises determined within this test were selected for use in the first TM-BASE.
On 10 July 2010, the first TM-BASE with 423 participants took place at the University of Hamburg. The test execution ran smoothly. 66 percent out of the bachelor graduates of the University of Hamburg who participated in the test were admitted at university. Without the TM-BASE, this number wouldg only have amounted to 33 percent. Correspondingly, the TM-BASE prevented that bachelor graduates of high-demanding universities with strict grading scales were put at a disadvantage.
Following the positive results at the University of Hamburg, also the University of Cologne and the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences decided to use the TM-BASE. In 2011, 1210 persons participated in the TM-BASE already; in 2012, the number of participants was 1385. Since 2013, also the University of Magdeburg and the Leuphana University Lüneberg use the TM-BASE.
The correlations between test results and bachelor grades are low to medium in the heterogeneous total group; this is hardly surprising given the different requirements and the differing grading practice. The homogeneous sub-groups (e.g. bachelor degree in business administration in Hamburg, bachelor degree in business administration in Cologne) show higher correlations. This shows that the TM-BASE - as intended - may contribute to offset differences in the grading practices and to improve the comparability of applicants on the basis of an objective criterion.