The Civil Service Examination System of Imperial China served as a qualification system for scholars who wanted to become officials in the Chinese government. Many young men spent their entire lives studying the Four Books, the Five Classics, and memorizing Chinese characters in order to attempt to pass these examinations. The book, China’s Examination Hell, written by Ichi sada Miyazaki and translated by Conrad Schirokauer, describes the lengthy, and often rigorous process of taking Civil Service Examinations. The book begins by giving an account of how a young boy prepares for the examinations, learning his first Chinese characters at the age of three. Girls could not take the Civil Service Examinations, and from birth were treated in a way such that they would learn to be submissive.
Boys began their formal education at age seven. From that point on, they spent every moment memorizing the Four Books, which included the Analects, Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean, and the Five Classics, which included the Book of Changes, the Book of Documents, the Book of Poetry, the Book of Rites, and the Tso Chuan. Young men had the opportunity to take their first Civil Service Examination around the age of fourteen or fifteen, and particularly bright males would most likely continue taking different levels of examinations for the rest of their lives. Also described in the book are the hardships endured by both the candidates for examination and the examiners themselves. The test-taking compounds were not very conductive to rational thinking, as each man was assigned a small, door-less cubicle in which he had to spend three days and two nights at a time. The examiners, by the end of an examination session, had thousands of papers needing to be graded.
COMPARATIVE STUDIES OF NATIONAL CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEMS by NEIL M. CAN LOBO Laguna College of Business and Arts Paper prepared for presentation at Civil Service Systems in Comparative Perspective, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, April 5-8, 1997. ABSTRACT The Philippine civil service system is a legacy of the country's colonial experience, first ...
As a result, even the smallest mistake, such as a stain on the paper or a misprinted character would lead to failure of the examination. The book describes in detail how the Chinese believed in, and in some cases relied on, supernatural intervention in passing the examinations. There are many accounts throughout the book telling about candidates and examiners alike being visited by ghosts, and dreaming about the King of the Dead and the King of Heaven. It was believed that if a candidate was virtuous and performed good deeds, he would be rewarded by passing the Civil Service Examinations. Conversely, if a candidate did not have a good moral character, he would fail the examinations, regardless of the quality of his work.
This book is extremely well organized, although somewhat monotonous. The author’s meticulous attention to the order in which the examinations were taken, the kinds of questions asked during each examination, and which public official was responsible for administering each examination was informative and interesting. It was also extremely repetitive. This book is meant to be an accurate description of the historical significance and the exact process of Chinese Civil Service Examinations. The author attained that goal, however the book would have been more interesting had he presented the material in a less meticulous fashion.
The author’s accounts of supernatural intervention in the Civil Service Examinations provided interesting insight into an otherwise rather tiresome book. The stories of hardship and perseverance suffered by both candidates and examiners gave the book the feel of something more than just historical documentation of the facts. On the whole, the book was a very interesting description of life, for men at least, in Imperial China. It showed the discipline and obedience to authority that a man had to practice in order to gain respect and authority. The Civil Service Examinations were administered until about fourteen hundred years ago. The system ensured the literacy and competence of public officials, because all public officials had to pass the examinations.
IPS officers are recruited from the state police cadres and from the rigorous Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission every year.  Due to an ongoing shortage of police officers in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs proposed the creation of an Indian Police Service Limited Competitive Examination to be conducted by UPSC.  The Civil Services Examination has a ...
This book provided an apt description of the importance of Civil Service examinations in Imperial China.