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Home > Knowledge Bank > Chinese Culture > The Ancient Chinese Imperial Examination System

The Ancient Chinese Imperial Examination System

2011.11.04


The Imperial Examination System which is also called Keju is a method to elect the talented to the government official posts in ancient China, generally speaking, the Imperial Examination system had lasted for more than one thousand years, from its founding in the Sui Dynasty (518BC-618BC) to its abolition by Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644BC-1911Bc), anyway, friends who'd like to learn Chinese in China may also find this method of recruiting officials through open exams an great invention of China.

There are several levels in the Imperial Examination System to be introduced to friends who’d like to study Chinese in China, firstly, all the candidates participation in the county examination, regardless o f their age are called Tongsheng, and those who’ve had passed the test are enrolled into school are called Shengyuan or Xiucai. It should be understand by friends who’d like to study Mandarin in China that there are three classes of Xiucai, the candidate who‘d got the first place in the county examination are referred to as Bingsheng, who had the privileges to get monthly food provision from the government, those who’d won the second places are called Zengsheng, who could receive no food provisions, and there are restrictions on the numbers of Bingsheng and Zengsheng to be selected.

The third place winners were referred to as Fusheng, it must be noticed by the friends who’d like to learn Chinese in China that only the candidates who’d passed the lower examination were they qualified to attend the next examination, so only those who were qualified for the Xiucai could they attend the formal Imperial Examination.

There are three levels in the formal Imperial Examination system, namely the provincial examination, the academy examination and the palace examination, friends who’d like to study Chinese in China may be quite interested about the specifics of these tests.

As can be seen by those who’d like to study Mandarin in China, the provincial examination are held every three years in the provincial capital, and those who’d passed the provincial examination were called Juren, and the first one was referred to as Xieyuan, and the second-place winners were called Yayuan.

The second level in the formal Imperial Examination System to be introduced to friends who’d like to learn Chinese in China is called the academy examination, which were held in the next spring in the capital Libu after their provincial examination were passed, and the ones who’d successfully passed the examination were called Gongshi, and the first one of the Gongshi being called Huiyuan.

The third level to be introduced to friends who’d like to study Chinese in China is called the palace examination, which were hosted by the emperor, only the Gongshi were eligible for the palace examination, the enrollments were carried out in three rankings from the top to the bottom.

The first ranking of Jinshi includes the Zhuangyuan for the first place, the Bangyan for the second place winners and Tanhua for the third place winners, the second ranking for readers who’d like to study Mandarin in China to know about the second ranking of the Jinshi was the assigning of the honor Jinshi origin by the emperor, and those who ranked the third would receive honorary Jinshi origin conferment.

Since we have had been talking about the ancient Imperial Examination System, the ancient schools are quite necessary to be introduced to friends who’d like to learn Chinese in China, there were schools as early as four thousand years ago, which were referred to as Yang, the higher leveled ones are called Shangyang, and lower leveled ones Xiayang.

During the Xia Dynasty(21AD-16AD), the schools were further divided into four grades, which were called Xue, Dongxu, Xixu, and Xiao respectively. The Shang Dynasty had changed the ways of naming the four grades into Xue, Youxue, Zuoxue and Xu, to study Chinese in China; one also needs to have a brief understanding of the historical development of Chinese schools.

The Han Dynasty(202AD-9BC) had renovated in calling the supreme level school as Taixue, and the ones below as East xue, West xue, South xue and North xue respectively, soon afterwards, the Taixue had been successively referred to as Guozixue, Guozi si and Guozijian, it must be distinguished by people who’d love to study Mandarin in China that during the Ming and Qing Dynasties the former highest grading of school Guozijian had transformed into an organ exclusively in charge of the educational management of the nation, and the ordinary schools during the Ming and Qing Dynasties were mainly referred to as Shuyuan, Shutang or Sishu.

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