Chinese Essay Exam for Civil Service

1138 words 5 pages
The Chinese essay exams for civil service selections were known as the Imperial examinations, which were instituted by Imperial Chinese to determine who among the population would be allowed to enter the state’s bureaucracy. The Imperial Examination System in China lasted from the founding during the Sui Dynasty in 605 to its demise near the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1905. These examinations lasted approximately 1300 years (Elman, 2002).
From the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) until the implementation of the Imperial Examination System, the majority of appointments were based on recommendations of prominent aristocrats and local officials who would recommend individuals who were predominantly of aristocratic rank. The
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The “Six Arts” included scholastic arts (music, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies in both public and private life) and militaristic which consisted of archery and horsemanship. The curriculum was then expanded to cover the "Five Studies” to include military strategy, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography and the Confucian classics. In this form, the examinations were institutionalized during the sixth century CE, under the Sui Dynasty. These examinations are regarded by most historians as the first standardized tests based on merit (Man-Cheong, 2004).
By 1370, the examinations lasted between 24 and 72 hours, and were conducted in spare, isolated examination rooms. The small rooms featured two boards which could be placed together to form a bed or placed on different levels to serve as a desk and chair. In order to obtain objectivity in evaluation, candidates were identified by number rather than name, and examination answers were recopied by a third person before being evaluated to prevent the candidate's handwriting from being recognized. The candidate who scored number one on the exams could be colloquially described as the one who "seized the head of Ao" (the legendary giant turtle whose legs hold the sky), or who "stood alone on the head of Ao".
The Imperial examination system was abolished with the foundation of the Yuan Dynasty, but was revived in 1315 by Emperor Renzong of Yuan. It


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