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Chinese Civil Service Examinations PowerPoint PPT Presentation

AP World History Project

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Chinese Civil Service Examinations

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“In teaching, there should be no distinction of classes.”

-- Analects XV, 39

Civil Service Examinations

…and the rise of Meritocracy


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How it all began…


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So What?

  • Due to the creation of the merit system in Chinese history, government corruption was kept to a minimal because those admitted into the civil services were chosen based on their abilities.

  • The examination system were tools that the central government used to take and hold the loyalty of local-level elites.

  • The system maintained cultural unity and agreement on basic values.

  • Anybody was allowed to take the exam, no matter what social status they were. Failure wasn’t an issue because everybody was allowed to retake the test until they reached success.


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A test taker’s study guide

  • What you need to know…The Six Arts of the examination curriculum

  • Scholastic Knowledge:

    Music, arithmetic, writing, & knowledge of public and private ceremonies/rituals

  • Militaristic Knowledge:

    Archery & horsemanship


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More to learn…

  • The Five Studies

  • Military strategies

  • Civil law

  • Revenue & Taxation

  • Agriculture & Geography

  • The Confucian classics


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  • Examinations lasted between 24 to 72 hours.

  • Examinees were brought to isolated, cubicle-like rooms.

  • The rooms contained boards which could be put together to form a bed. It could also turn into a desk and chair for when they took the tests.

The day of the Exam….


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The Impact on Society

  • Social Mobility was a major impact of the examinations.

  • It gave lower classmen the opportunity to rise in the social hierarchy, which changed greatly now that social status was no longer solely decided by one’s family and wealth.

  • There was a transition from aristocratic rule to bureaucratic rule.

  • The elite has broaden out to include local magnates, family heads, and informal public servants as well as ex-officials.


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More info…

  • There were generally three levels of exams given:

  • Local Level

  • Provincial Level

  • & National Level

  • During the Ming Dynasty, nearly half of those who passed came from low class families with no higher connections.

  • Those who had money or connections bribed the higher officials, giving them somewhat of an advantage.

  • A strength of the examinations would be that the rulers and government would be able to receive officials that would be loyal to them.

  • It strengthened and prolonged absolute monarchy, and it played important roles involving thoughts, society, administration and politics and imperial China.


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Good luck on the final!

Compared to the Civil Service Examinations, the Finals and AP Exams should be a piece of cake!


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