The TM-BASE (Test for Master’s Programmes in Business Administration, Social Sciences and Economics) is an ability test which was developed by ITB Consulting Ltd. in close cooperation with the WISO faculty of the Universität Hamburg. The test represents a method of measuring those cognitive abilities which are especially important for coping with the demands of master’s programmes offered by universities in the economic and social sciences.
The TM-BASE encompasses five areas of competence
The recognition of these competences is carried out with four test item groups
1. “Planning and Organising Projects”
Several scenarios (e.g. project work, empirical study) are described in which various activities have to be planned and organized.
2. “Analysing Texts”
Short texts on economic and socio-scientific matters are provided. Each text is followed by two test items.
3. “Formalising Economic Interrelationships”
Sets of circumstances described verbally have to be grasped and expressed mathematically, or conclusions have to be drawn from several model equations.
4. “Interpreting Business Charts”
The object of this item type is the interpretation of diagrams and tables of the kind found in economic publications.
The total duration of the TM-BASE is 3 hours and 50 minutes. The TM-BASE can be taken in English
or in German. The demo test comprises example test items and provides insight into the various item groups. It is available free of charge here.
The TM-BASE is an online test which is administered at test centres outside the universities. The registration for, administration and evaluation of the test and the notification of the participants as to their scores are carried out by ITB, so that no effort is required on the part of the universities. The participants receive a certificate showing a detailed account of the results (standard scores, percentile ranks, grade equivalents) for the individual item groups and the overall test. Following the test, ITB sends each university an Excel file showing the scores of its applicants, provided the respective participants have given their approval at the time of registration. The test dates (three to four times annually) and administration locations are coordinated with the participating universities. There are presently test dates in April, June and November. For the administration of the test, ITB has a close-meshed network of test centres at its disposal, so that the test can be administered in every university city.
In the following German cities, there are already test centres where the TM-BASE can be administered:
Arrangements can be made for test centres in other cities on short notice. As needed, we also organize administrations of the test abroad. In this context we receive support from our cooperation partner TestDaF, among others. The TM-BASE is accordingly already been administered in Accra, Bangalore, Barcelona, Bradford, Bogotá, Graz, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Lille, London, Moscow, New York, Saint Petersburg, Sofia, Sydney and Vienna. In Dubai, Cape Town and Montreal there are also test centres which cooperate with ITB and can also administer the TM-BASE if needed.
The TM-BASE is presently used by nine universities for altogether 15 master’s programmes:
Since the test’s introduction in 2010, the annual number of participants has increased significantly:
The ITB tests, which have been taken by more than 500,000 persons to date worldwide, are developed, systematically evaluated, and continually further developed according to internationally recognized standards of quality. Their high quality, and particularly their strong prognostic power, have already been proven in numerous studies (see Blum, Hensgen & Trost, 1985; Dlugosch, 2005; Fay, 1982; Greiff, 2006; Hänsgen & Spicher, 2001b; Hell, 1999; Hell, Trapmann & Schuler, 2007; Sauerland, Stegt & Trost, 2009; Stumpf, 1980; Trost, 1997; Trost et al., 1981; Trost et al., 1998; Trost & Freitag, 1991; Trost, Klieme & Nauels, 1997).
The development of the test concept
To begin with, an analysis of the requirements (see Flanagan, 1954) was carried out in keeping with DIN 33430 (Requirements for Proficiency Assessment Procedures and Their Implementation; see e.g. Hornke & Winterfeld, 2004; Reimann, 2009). This took place within the framework of a workshop with professors from the Universität Hamburg’s WISO faculty. Subsequently proposals were developed for test item groups permitting the measurement of those competences of particular importance for coping with the requirements. In a final workshop, the item groups were discussed in detail and the test concept was formally adopted.
The employment of proven item groups
The development and selection of item groups were carried out on the basis of experience with item groups which have already proven their value in other test projects.
Careful development of items
New items are continually being developed for the TM-BASE. Every test item is subjected to an internal quality assurance system. Initially, a draft of each item is solved, assessed and annotated by at least two test psychologists on a trial basis. Then a preliminary item is drawn up.
Empirical pretesting of all items
All test items are tested with persons from the target group. On the basis of the statistical indices thus obtained, the best items are then chosen for use in real tests. The items are tested within the framework of studies or by interspersing the items of a test version with new (and not yet evaluated) items. On the basis of the items’ statistical indices, the TM-BASE is compiled from the most suitable items.
Each element of the test (individual items, item groups, overall test), is judged according to criteria on the basis of which the test’s quality can be determined. The quality criteria determined to date testify to the test’s high quality.
For the selection of master’s students, universities also consider other – primarily American – test methods aside from the TM-BASE. A comparison between the TM-BASE and these methods shows that several factors speak in favour of the TM-BASE.
The TM-BASE is a test tailored strongly to the requirements of consecutive and research-oriented master’s programmes. The contents of the items are related to the economic and social sciences, and in a sense the items represent “miniature simulations” of typical academic requirement situations. Other available tests exhibit a lower degree of relevance to the subject.
The trainability of the ITB Consulting item groups is verifiably very low (see Hofer & Hänsgen, 1996; Trost et al., 1998). Among other things, this circumstance is accounted for by the employment of especially complex task types. In preparation for other tests, the participants spend a lot of time and money in the hope of thus significantly improving their results. With the ITB tests, success is not dependent on attending expensive preparation courses.
Manageable costs for participants and universities
The costs of the administration and further development of the TM-BASE are borne jointly by the participants and the universities: The participants pay a fee of 100 euros. The costs for the university are based on the respective number of applicants.
The participation fee for other tests is substantially higher, and in those cases participants also have preparation courses to pay for.
Service for the participants
The test participants can contact ITB Consulting by way of a hotline or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and are then advised according to their individual needs. On this website moreover are offerered extensive information and a complete trial test free of charge.
The TM-BASE results are explained in detail, so that the participants receive well-differentiated feedback on their performance.
Adaptability to different study programmes
The participants’ results in the individual item groups can be weighted differently as a means of tailoring the selection procedure perfectly to the emphases of the respective study programme.
Grade equivalents are provided, making it possible to offset the test results with bachelor grades. The offsetting with bachelor grades and the optimum weighting is significantly easier to carry out with the TM-BASE than with other tests.
The registration phase for the test dates in 2019 has started on 8 January. Early registration is recommended so that you will be able to take the test at your preferred location and time.
The registration phase for the test date on 29 June 2019 ends on 11 June!
Dates, deadlines and test locations are stated here.
As of the winter semester 2019/2020 the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences is considerin the results of the TM-BASE for its Masters' Programme Accounting and Finance (M.Sc.).
Important: If you want to apply for this programme you need to take the TM-BASE in English.
The prognostic power of TM-BASE has been proven in a scientific study with 247 master’s graduates. The test result predicts the final grade very well: The correlation between the test result and the final grade is r = .44.