October 10, 2011
History of Psychological Assessment: Chinese Use of Essay Examinations for Civil Service Selection
The early Chinese process (650 to 1905) for selecting civil servants or public officials provided the model used by most contemporary societies. The process included the employment of assessment tools or tests that centered upon merit instead of family or political associations. This innovative manner of providing jobs to the masses by way of assessment played a fundamental role in both the social and intellectual lives of the majority of Chinese citizens. These premodern civil service assessments, believed by many to be to be an obstruction to the development of a progressive Chinese state, instead had a positive influence on the manifestation of China as a modern country. Civil service examinations in early China were based on classical education and found to be as suitable for selecting those considered to be elite by way of service to the state of China as those chosen by the budding independent countries of early modern Europe; furthermore, “classical assessments were an efficient educational, political, and social construct that met the needs of the prominent families” (Keju, 2007, para 31) as well as the bureaucracy while concurrently sustaining the late imperial social structure (Keju, 2007). Civil Service Examinations in Ancient China
Although a large amount of data from the feudal age and the first empire is vague with regard to assessment tools, much of that information can be acquired by way of data produced by the Sung Dynasty (960 CE-1127 CE). The descriptions of the second empire with regard to examinations provided by the feudal age and the first empire disclose sufficient insights into the subject matter of these complete examinations to gain an understanding of the earlier...