Chinese Essay Exam for Civil Service

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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 emperor of Han, Emperor Wu, started the initial form of the imperial examinations, in which local officials would select various candidates to participate in an examination of the Confucians classics, from which he would select officials to serve by his side. Later in the Three Kingdoms period, the imperial officials became responsible for assessing the quality of the talents recommended by the local elites. This system continued until Emperor Yang of Sui established a new category of recommended candidates for mandarinate in 605 CE (Ichisada,1976). This began an examination system, which was explicitly instituted for a category of local talents. This is generally accepted as the beginning of the Imperial Examination System. Theoretically, any male adult in China, regardless of his wealth or social status, could become a high-ranking government official by passing the Imperial Examination, although under some dynasties members of the merchant class were excluded. In reality, since the process of studying for the examination tended to be time-consuming and costly (if tutors were hired), most of the candidates came from the numerically small but relatively wealthy land-owners. However, there are vast numbers of examples in...
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