Talk:Imperial examination

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Pseudo or proto[edit]

rather than calling them "pseudo", i suggest calling them "proto" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 07:56, 27 April 2005 (UTC)

How about just putting them in inverted commas (quotation marks). That would fulfil the same function.Bathrobe 23:18, 10 May 2005 (UTC)


It would be nice if this article told us something about when the examination was used. There are hardly any dates in it :) Zocky 20:11, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Minor changes and addition to history; the article seems a bit wordy and indirect. Will add more on history later. Kennethtennyson —Preceding undated comment added 18:49, 28 June 2005 (UTC)‎

Stealing... naughty[edit]

I dunno if the Library of Congress is up for being plagariased, but if it isn't, you might want to change the wording of some of this article to ensure Wikipedia's credibility. But whatever, we all 'paraphrase' don't we?

Go to, and type in 'examination' into the search box to see what i mean.

Cheers, Lawson — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:50, 5 July 2005‎ (UTC)

It's ok to use LoC's contents since they are in the public domain. -- Taku July 5, 2005 11:16 (UTC)
You complete idiot. The complaint was about plagiarism, not about copyright violation. It is staggeringly common how many of Wikipedia's editors, who get all worked up about copyright violation, are happy to use a source uncredited if it's in the public domain. The copyright status of a source is an entirely seperate consideration from that of citation. 23:28, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Improper Redirect[edit]

Civil service examination redirects here. It shouldn't as civil service examinations are routine operations in many countries, not only in Imperial China. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:13, 19 October 2005‎ (UTC)

Are there any articles on these other examinations? If not, then it is acceptable for it to redirect here until someone creates something that may apply. -Toptomcat 16:01, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Last paragraph says..[edit]

"After defeating the Japanese offensive in the Second World War, the Guomindang administration attempted to revive the Examination Yuan, but just three years later it moved to Taiwan. It continued the system there."

First of all shouldn't it be "Kuomintang" and not "Guomindang"? I don't know what romanization is standard for wikipedia, but Kuomintang is sure a much more recognizable spelling. "Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang regime" it would be even better.

Also, "after defeating the Japanese" makes it sound as it was the KMT that single-handedly defeated the Japanese, while in reality most of the allied forces in the Pacific War were American. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 08:40, 6 February 2006‎ (UTC)

"Quasi" degrees[edit]

Who decided what each level of qualification is "equivalent" to in modern western degrees anyway? I mean, I don't see what's so "quasi-bachelor" about being a Xiucai, given that many people complete it by the time they are in their early teens. How many teenage bachelors do you see around?

If one draws correlations between the these qualifications and university degree types, then just as equally valid I can say Shengyuan is your primary school graduation certificate, Juren is your high school graduation certificate, and jinshi is your university degree?

I think drawing correlations between these qualifications and modern degrees is misleading and unnecessary. --Sumple (Talk) 08:55, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I see your point, but when the examination system was still in use, it was customary to translate the examination degrees to Western equivalents. This was not because Westerners in China were completely ignorant of the examination system, but more a matter of convenience and a way to show how the degree were ranked in relation to each other. (There is a parallel in the way titles in the Chinese nobility was translated into Duke, Baron, etc.) I don't have the list in front of me, but I think xiucai was translated bachelor and juren licenciate.
I think what we can do to avoid any direct parallels to Western degrees is to delete the quasi and insert quotation marks around the title. What do you think of that?--Niohe 15:06, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I just found a reliable authority on the matter, Mayers manual on Chinese government, which is often used as standard. I have changed the names accordingly and added the book as a reference.--Niohe 18:03, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I like what you have done. --Sumple (Talk) 05:45, 31 December 2006 (UTC)


I was doing a little research on the examination, and I found that whoever created this article copied the article from [1]. Is this a violation of Wikipedia's policy? Ez5698 23:18, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

See the copyright notice at the end of the page.--Skyfiler (talk) 03:15, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Please add more info on the examiners and the examinees (?)[edit]

I would like to have more info on how the judges/examiners are appointed, how they judge and rank the answers, and how the students who spent nearly three days in their cubicle fared, do they bring their own food and water, tents, etc to spend the night? I don't think it's humanly possible to sit in an exam 3 days straight!Skepticus (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 11:30, 27 July 2008‎ (UTC)

Content of Examination[edit]

The curriculum was then expanded to cover the "Five Studies": military strategy, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography, and the Confucian classics

Can somebody cite the source on that? I thought the Imperial examination were infamous for their concentration on literature and not practical knowledge? So in Sui dynasty, the imperial examination actually tested practical knowledge, but in the later dynasty it was reverted back to only literature? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:19, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Indeed. Where the hell is the actual content? This is the internet fer chrissakes! They were giving these tests up until 1905. Someone somewhere has to have a copy or at least a more thorough treatment of the content. (The idea it tested military strategy in particular seems highly dubious.) — LlywelynII 13:02, 4 October 2011 (UTC)


This article attributes the creation of the Imperial Exam to the Han dynasty but as I have here in my hands that it was in fact created by the Wei Dynasty after the Fall of the Han Dynasty source is Houghton Miffland Company's Book East Asia.If no one can refute with a viable source I am going to change it. --XChile (talk) 21:04, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
The article lead states that "The Imperial Examination System in China lasted for 1300 years, from its founding during the Sui Dynasty in 605 to its abolition near the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1905."
In the section "Purpose", we have: "The origin of this system, called nine-rank system, can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE)." In nine-rank system, we have: "Chen Qun, a court official of the Kingdom of Wei standardized its details."
The correct statement is:
"The imperial examination replaced a civil service nomination system, called the nine-rank system, first introduced in the Kingdom of Wei during the Three Kingdoms period."
(This is consistent with the corresponding Chinese Wikipedia articles: and )
The statement in the article lead is correct.
I am editing the article to correct the error.--Palaeoviatalk 23:16, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

I have revised the opening of the "Purpose" section, thus:
Beginning in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE), prior to the imperial examination system, most appointments in the imperial bureaucracy were based on recommendations from prominent aristocrats and local officials, and it was commonly accepted that recommended individuals must be of aristocratic rank. Beginning in the Three Kingdom period (with the nine-rank system in the Kingdom of Wei), imperial officials were responsible for assessing the quality of the talents recommended by the local elites. This system continued until Emperor Yang of Sui establshed a new category of recommended candidates for the mandarinate (进士科) in 605 CE. For the first time, an examination system was explicitly instituted for a category of local talents. This is generally accepted as the beginning of the imperial examination system (科举).
--Palaeoviatalk 00:09, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Thank you Palaeovia and well done. I have more information but ...but I think that the statement is perfect for our purposes. Thank you again for the great work :3 --XChile (talk) 00:14, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Pressure to develop national school system?[edit]

The article states, "With the military defeats in the 1890s and pressure to develop a national school system," and I am curious about this pressure - pressure from whom? Abattis (talk) 08:27, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Hundred Days' Reform is the culmination of such pressure.--Palaeoviatalk 10:40, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Okay, thanks for answering! I'm curious about Prussian schooling of that era, and its influence worldwide. (talk) 08:43, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

During the Ming dynasty the Empire setup a nationwide system of charitable schools. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:25, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Ao Idioms - Section - Details of Imperial examination[edit]

I don't think that the current English translations of:

"having seized the head of Ao" ((占鳌头 [Zhàn ào tóu]), or "having alone seized the head of Ao" (独占鳌头 [Dú zhàn ào tóu])

are correct. I believe that "占" here relates to occupying a physical position only (i.e. next to the statue) and does not have the sense of "seize" - that would be far too strong a meaning for this character (possible confusion here with “战" ?) My suggestions would be "to have stood at the head of Ao" or "to have stood alone at Ao's head"

Philg88 (talk) 12:58, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you completely. --Palaeoviatalk 13:06, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Repeated violations of WP:ERA[edit]

The first usage on this page was BC, so it sticks.

Given the first actual exams weren't given until the Sui, the page could surely be rewritten to avoid the issue almost entirely. That said, see above. — LlywelynII 23:32, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Please improve this article[edit]

I'm in the middle of working on country name etymologies, but if someone could rework the page for clarity, that would be wonderful. The page wanders around its point as an unsourced student's essay on supposed intents and doesn't do the basic job of explaining clearly:

  • meritocracy
  • the examination grades & their evolution (right now we're listing—in unlinked Chinese—the ranks of the scholars, which should be at Scholar-bureaucrats)
  • the testing procedures & their evolution
  • what was on the actual test (!!!), including more than a passing mention of the eight-legged essay (?!!) or the Four Books and Five Classics (??!)
  • the 19th century argument between modern reform and the traditionalists (with some argument stronger than "hazing" to justify the latter)
  • actual, sourced anthropological points, such as true levels of regionalism, meritocracy, and corruption & cultural influence on literature, poetry, & music
  • interesting addenda such as the famed instances of women pretending to be men & the Taiping use of the Bible during their examinations

If there weren't a few parts to be salvaged about the evolution of the test, I'd simply replace the article with the terse and lucid treatment at Scholar-bureaucrats. — LlywelynII 23:32, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Some sources for expansion (or at least comparison): 1, 2 (older, slightly better version of this article), 3, 4 (claims additional (separate) tests for gifted children & firearms), 5, 6 & 7 (museum), 8, 9 (Chinese names of exam levels), 10, 11, 12 (Imperial edict on dissolution of the test), 13, 14 (different museum), 15 (3d museum), 16 (study of closure), 17 (study of Ming era test), 18 (comparison w/modern test), 19 (cheating)...
Also: music to get you in the mood. — LlywelynII 00:01, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Talking about "what was on the actual test": we probably should also mention that sometimes issues of national importance became the topics of the jinshi exams. That was the case, e.g. during the Great rites controversy, according to the Cambridge History of China. -- Vmenkov (talk) 23:28, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
  • While awaiting improvement to this article, the Chinese articles in Wikipedia and Baidu are worth consulting for Chinese readers.--Palaeoviatalk 00:43, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
  • A detailed treatment of 科举 (Imperial Examination) is available in 董昶源, 中国全史(see 选官史) (北京大学出版社,2006.7) (ISBN 7-301-08420-X/K.0364). Also see [2] 任立达,薛希洪,"中国古代官吏考选制度史" (A History of the Examination Systems for the Chinese Imperial Mandarinate)(青岛出版社, 2003).--Palaeoviatalk 02:53, 17 October 2011 (UTC)


Can someone please remove the bit about the Great Divergence and how Europe sped ahead because the Chinese system was limited. If anything, this early form of meritocracy helped China diverge from Europe, to become more powerful in all measurable ways. I'm a little sick of this white supremacy -tinged trope that's been so much a part of discourse about other cultures. Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kansubrave (talkcontribs) 20:34, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Is there a record of all the top candidates?[edit]

Is there a list of the top candidates and their biographic details? (talk) 02:28, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Just found this: (talk) 02:59, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

More information on the military examination[edit]

There were military schools for training before taking the exam.

Rajmaan (talk) 01:30, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

The military examinations probably deserve their own article. Although, more information would also be useful here. Dcattell (talk) 15:00, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree. It's an important topic. Thanks again to Rajmaan, who must never sleep! ch (talk) 16:44, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Introduction of system in Europe[edit]

Broadly in line with the issue above, the article claims that the system came to Europe via the UK, in the 19th century. Is there any reference for that? My understanding was that elements were brought in much earlier, and that it did not all come via Great Britain, but already influenced from other travellers. Hundnase (talk) 09:51, 29 December 2016 (UTC)

Good question -- the reference is a classic article, widely cited, but hidden below in a section towards the end: Ssu-yu Teng, "Chinese Influence on the Western Examination System", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 7 (1942-1943): 267-312. Maybe the present footnote #1 in the lede is not as good as (talk) 16:45, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
I removed Kaplan, Robert M.; Dennis P., Saccuzzo (2005). Psychological testing: Principles, applications, and issues (6th ed.). NY: Thomson Learning. p. 12. ISBN 0-534-63306-4.  because notes are not needed in the lede if the information is sourced in the article, and because this is a tertiary source, that is, its source for this information (on p. 12) is another tertiary source "Wriggins 1973)," which is another (talk) 16:55, 29 December 2016 (UTC)