Chinese Exam System

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Before the examination system took place, officials were mostly selected from dignitaries, and people’s social status could hardly change in their future generations. Therefore, the establishment of the examination system is a historically meaningful improvement by offering lower-class intellectuals opportunities to change their fates through education. Besides, as there are more benefits the system brought on stage, drawbacks alongside underlay the history in the following respects. Government: The first important benefit that the exam system brought is that it marked the beginning of people’s consciousness of fairness towards education and officials’ selection. Following Confucius’s ideology, “In education there should be no class distinctions.” (Sources of Chinese Tradition, p.60, Analects15:38), the exam system accepted applicants regardless of their race, class and age. Government could select and gain genuinely wise men from a much broader range of candidates, and the situation of a state monopolized by only elites and dignitaries was ameliorated. Without the insurance of an official position in the government, upper-class men also had to work harder to maintain their former generations’ statuses or they would be disdained as bringing shame to their well-known families. Government eventually consisted of really competent officials and dominated the society more effectively. On the other hand, another benefit on the government’s respect is that the whole society was easier to dominate. Since the contents of the exams focused on Confucianism, all the members of a society had to practice this ethic philosophy as they attempted to memorize and understand Confucius’s ideologies. Confucius believes that, governance of a state can be modeled on the family, and people’s practice of filial devotion has a bearing on the stability of society as a whole (p.43). As the people studied filiality, humaneness, and ritual decorum, three virtues that covered...
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