“In teaching, there should be no distinction of classes.” -- Analects XV, 39 Civil Service Examinations …and the rise of Meritocracy
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.
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
More to learn… • The Five Studies • Military strategies • Civil law • Revenue & Taxation • Agriculture & Geography • The Confucian classics
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….
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.
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.
Good luck on the final! Compared to the Civil Service Examinations, the Finals and AP Exams should be a piece of cake!