Chinese examination system

Chinese examination system

Chinese examination system, civil service recruitment method and educational system employed from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) until it was abolished by the Ch'ing dowager empress Tz'u Hsi in 1905 under pressure from leading Chinese intellectuals. The concept of a state ruled by men of ability and virtue was an outgrowth of Confucian philosophy. The examination system was an attempt to recruit men on the basis of merit rather than on the basis of family or political connection. Because success in the examination system was the basis of social status and because education was the key to success in the system, education was highly regarded in traditional China. If a person passed the provincial examination, his entire family was raised in status to that of scholar gentry, thereby receiving prestige and privilege. The texts studied for the examination were the Confucian classics. In the T'ang dynasty (618-906) the examination system was reorganized and more efficiently administered. Because some scholars criticized the emphasis on memorization without practical application and the narrow scope of the examinations, the system underwent further change in the Sung dynasty (960-1279). Wang An-shih reformed the examination, stressing the understanding of underlying ideas and the ability to apply classical insights to contemporary problems. In the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) the commentaries of the Sung Neo-Confucian philosopher Chu Hsi were adopted as the orthodox interpretation of the classics. Although only a small percentage of students could achieve office, students spent 20 to 30 years memorizing the orthodox commentaries in preparation for a series of up to eight examinations for the highest degree. By the 19th cent. the examination system was regarded as outdated and inadequate training for officials who faced the task of modernizing China. After it was abolished, mass education along with a Western type curriculum was promoted.

See W. Franke, The Reform and Abolition of the Traditional Chinese Examination System (1960); J. M. S. Meskill, The Chinese Civil Service (1963); E. A. Kracke, Jr., Civil Service in Early Sung China, 960-1067 (1968); I. C. Y. Hsu, The Rise of Modern China (1970); I. Miyazaki, China's Examination Hell (tr. 1981).

The CKC Chinese Input System uses a maximum of 4 digits ("0" - "9") to represent a Chinese character. All possible shapes of strokes that forms any given Chinese character are classified into 10 groups, each represented by one of the ten possible digits 0-9. Chinese characters can then be input by following the order in which the strokes are identified at the 4 corners of the character. As a result of this simplicity in coding using the ten numeric digits, users typically need to use only a numeric keypad to input Chinese.

Implementations for both Traditional and Simplified Chinese are available though the coding principle applies to both. In other words, users only need to be trained once and the skill can be applied equally well to both Traditional and Simplified Chinese version of the CKC Chinese Input System.

Training courses on the CKC Chinese Input System are provided by training centres in CKC Centre for the Development of Information Technology for Chinese Language Teaching of The Hong Kong Institute of Education, IVE Haking Wong and of Hong Kong University

The mapping

The mapping between groups of stokes and their corresponding digits 0-9 can be described by the following:


This means: 1 represents a horizontal stroke, 2 a vertical or diagonal stroke, 3 a dot or left-to-right diagonal stroke, 4 two strokes in a cross shape, 5 three or more strokes in which one stroke intersects all others, 6 a box-shape, 7 where a stroke turns a corner, 8 the shape of the Chinese character 八 and its inverted form, 9 the shape of the Chinese character 小 and its inverted form, and 0 a right-to-left diagonal or left hook stroke.

Coding principle : single character

1. Order of coding : start from the top left-hand corner, then the top right-hand corner, next followed by the bottom left-hand corner and finally the bottom right-hand corner. Example : CKC code for the character ""   is 0760

2. When there are more than 1 way to encode, use one which covers more strokes of the character. Example : the CKC code for the character " " is 2399 as opposed to 2393.

3. Encode each of the shapes ONCE only. Example : the CKC code for the character ""  is 06 as opposed to 0066.

4. When there are more than 1 way to encode, code of the strokes at the left-most or right-most side of the character is preferred. Example : the CKC code for the character "" is 1111 as opposed to 2222.

5. Strokes positioned at the top most of the character is given priority to code rather than those at lower position. Example : The CKC code for the character "" is 5307 as opposed to 7307.

Coding principle : phrase

software availability

The software can be downloaded from The CKC Chinese Input System web site and can be run on the Microsoft Windows environment. Other platforms such as Linux, Palm and Pocket PC are under development.


It is also possible to use the CKC Chinese Input System without installing it on a PC. The WebCKC allows any PC connected to Internet using the MS Internet Explorer to input Chinese Characters using the CKC Chinese Input System.

You can try out the traditional Chinese version or the Simplified Chinese version Note that you need to use keyboard with numeric keypad in order to input Chinese with this method.

Text entered are stored in the clipboard and therefore ready to be pasted to any desired application.

See also

Four corner method

External links

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