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Chinese Exam System. General Education. Why have an education system? Separate between Bureaucrats (Educated Elite) and the common people. Get the best people working in the government. Quickest way to get rich. Chinese Exam System. What was the purpose of the Chinese Exam System?

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General education
General Education

  • Why have an education system?

    • Separate between Bureaucrats (Educated Elite) and the common people.

    • Get the best people working in the government.

    • Quickest way to get rich.

Chinese exam system1
Chinese Exam System

  • What was the purpose of the Chinese Exam System?

    • The formal reason for the exams were to recruit people for the government.

      • This was a very highly regarded job.

    • The practical reason was to maintain loyalty in local cities throughout China.

    • An added bonus was that the testing maintained cultural unity and basic values throughout China.

Chinese exam system2
Chinese Exam System

  • How did The exam accomplish these goals?

    • The content of the exams was the same all across the country.

      • People wanted the recognition so they learned the required information.

Chinese exam system3
Chinese Exam System

  • Who was included in the testing process?

    • All males regardless of income.

    • Excluded:

      • Women

      • sons of prostitutes

      • Slaves

      • Criminals

Chinese exam system4
Chinese Exam System

  • Who had an advantage on the tests?

    • The wealthy

      • The tests were designed for them.

      • The had the resources to prepare better.

Chinese exam system5
Chinese Exam System

  • When did it Start?

    • It began in some form around 221 B.C.E. (Before Common Era)

    • It became the only form of entry into government in 960 A.D.


  • Began in the Womb - Mothers would read classics and poetry- Tai Jieo (Teach in Womb)

  • Little children read poetry

  • Teens would hire tutors or attend private school

What were the tests
What were the tests?

  • Level A (High School = tóngsheng)

  • Level B ("BA" = sheng-yuán)

  • Level C (“MA”=juren)

  • Level D ("PhD" = jìnshì)


  • This was the first test

  • After passing this graduates were still considered “commoners”.

  • This test was graded by local magistrates

    • This meant that favoritism was very prevalent

Sheng yuan

  • Exam was given in each city

  • Passing qualified a person for admission to public school

  • Other prizes included:

    • a Fez (a special hat)

    • a flag for their house

    • ability to speak directly to the local magistrate


  • Exams are taken in Province (states) capitals.

  • Passing granted access to government job

    • These were restricted to the local government.

  • By the mid 1700’s there were more graduates of this test than jobs.


  • Only 1 in 1,000,000 who began exam system pass this test

  • Guaranteed a high level government job

  • This test is only given in Beijing.

    • The capital of China


  • There were two levels to Jinishi, both were taken at the imperial palace.

  • The second exam was honorary, there was no failure.

  • It was meant to rank all those who passed this test.

  • Exams were free, and they were given every 3 years.

What is on the jinishi
What is on the Jinishi

  • It was based on memorization of 4 books;

    • Analects (book 1)

      • Written by Confucius

      • Written around 500 B.C.E

      • This was filled with his teachings on the five relationships.

What is on the jinishi1
What is on the Jinishi

  • Mencius (book 2)

    • Written by Meng Tzu

    • He is the “second sage”

    • This book concerned itself entirely with political theory and political practice

    • This was all based on kindness, righteousness, and duty.

What is on the jinishi2
What is on the Jinishi

  • Great learning (Book 3)

    • This was written by Confucius

    • Written around 500 B.C.E.

    • Major Teachings:

      • illustrate virtue;

      • to renovate the people;

      • to rest in the highest excellence

Chinese exam system

  • Doctrine of Mean (Book 4)

    • This was written by Confucious

    • We do no know the date that it was written

    • This is the least practical

      • It is very mystical

Jinshi exam format
Jinshi Exam Format

  • This was a three day exam

  • The person was given 4 or 5 chinese characters

    • They then had to know the book, page, and context of the passage that was given.

Jinshi exam format1
Jinshi Exam Format

  • Eight Legged Essay

    • The answer had to be 8 paragraphs long

      • 2 paragraphs for intro

      • 4 paragraphs for body

      • 2 paragraphs for conclusion

    • Each paragraph had to have a certain number of lines and Characters.

Results of the exam process
Results of the Exam Process

Positive Aspects:

  • provided some social mobility

  • a search for “men of talent”

  • promoted cooperative thinking

  • provided some rep. for remote areas

    Negative Aspects:

  • stifled creative, critical thinking

  • created huge bureaucracy

  • not “practical” training for government jobs