Chinese Imperial Examination System | Ancient Chinese Culture

Chinese Imperial Examination System


Chinese Imperial Examination System refers to an examination system of selecting the administrative officials for the ancient Chinese bureaucracy. Ancient Chinese who wanted to be an official had to pass multiple of examinations first.

Its history can date back to the period of Sui Dynasty (581~618). During the period of Tang Dynasty (618~907), the system had been further consolidated and perfected. The system came to an end during the period of Qing Dynasty (1636~1911).

Usually, the formal examinations were divided into “Xiangshi” (Provincial Examination), “Huishi” (Metropolitan Examination) and “Dianshi” (the Palace Examination which was tested by the Emperor). During the final examination, the candidate who got the first place in the exam would be granted the title of Zhuangyuan. The second and the third would be granted Bangyan and Tanhua respectively.

The Imperial Examination System has existed for about 1300 years in China. It has deep influence on social structure, political system, humanistic ideas and education in ancient China. Even the modern examination system for selecting civil service staff also indirectly evolved from the imperial one.

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