Civil service examination

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For the civil service examination in Imperial China, see Imperial examination. For the civil service examination in India, see Civil Services Examination.

Civil service examinations are examinations implemented in various countries for admission to the civil service. They are intended as a method to achieve an effective, rational public administration on a merit system.

The most ancient example of such exams were the imperial examinations of ancient China. Russia implemented such procedures in the turn of the 19th century.

In the United Kingdom, the permanent and politically neutral Her Majesty's Civil Service, in which appointments were made on merit, was introduced on the recommendations of the 1854 Northcote-Trevelyan Report, which also recommended a clear division between staff responsible for routine ("mechanical") work, and those engaged in policy formulation and implementation in an "administrative" class. The report was well-timed, since bureaucratic chaos in the Crimean War (1854–56) promptly caused a clamour for the change. A Civil Service Commission was accordingly set up in 1855 to oversee open recruitment and end patronage, and most of the other Northcote-Trevelyan recommendations implemented over some years. This system was broadly endorsed by Commissions chaired by Playfair (1874), Ridley (1886), MacDonnell (1914), Tomlin (1931) and Priestley (1955).

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