Imperial Exams

Exam Ranks and Their Meanings

The results of the Imperial Examination conferred different degrees depending on the level of the test and the outcome. Students began by taking the exams at the local county level. Then they moved on to the regional (provincial) level. Finally, they could qualify to sit for the triennial exams at the national level, which would be held at the imperial court or palace. Occasionally, special purpose tests were offered by imperial decree. 


· Tongsheng 童生(“child student”), passed the county/prefecture exam

· Juren 舉人(“recommended person”), passed the triennial provincial exam

· Huiyuan 會元(“top conference examinee”), ranked first in national exam  

· Jinshi 進士(“advanced scholar”), passed the triennial court exam

Imperial Examination Illustration

The Chinese Emperor during the Civil Service Examination.