UKBI was initiated by the National Language Center, Ministry of National Education through several language events. The idea for an Indonesian proficiency test was first expressed in the Fourth Indonesian Language Congress in 1983. In the Fifth Indonesian Language Congress in 1988 the idea of the need for a standardized Indonesian language test instrument also emerged. Based on the idea, the National Language Center started to arrange and standardize an instrument for Indonesian language evaluation. In the early 1990s the evaluation instrument was successfully realized and then was called as UKBI (stands for Uji Kemahiran Berbahasa Indonesia or Indonesian Proficiency Test).
Since then UKBI has been developed to become a standardized test designed to evaluate a person’s proficiency in using Indonesian language both written and spoken. UKBI test enables a person to know his/her Indonesian proficiency without considering where and how he/she has been studying the language. As a general language test, UKBI is open to whoever speaks the language, especially those who are educated, Indonesian speakers as well as speakers of other languages. By making use of UKBI, governmental and private agencies and offices are able to get information on the quality of employees and employee candidates in using the language. Likewise higher education institutions may make use of UKBI in their entrance selections of students.
By the Letter of Decree from Minister of National Education No. 152/U/2003 dated October 28th, 2003 UKBI was inaugurated as an instrument to evaluate Indonesian proficiency of people. UKBI was registered by the Letter of Product Registration No. 023993 and 023994 from Ministry of Justice and Human Rights dated January 8th, 2004.