A Briefing of

the National Examination

of the Republic of China

I. Preface
II. The Organization and Functions of the Ministry of Examination
III. The Current National Examination System
IV. The Current National Examination Process
V. Conclusion

I. Preface

A nation needs talented people.

The government of the Republic of China is charged with the mission of recruiting talented people for the nation by the Constitution.

The Chinese political system has always maintained the ideal that "the talented rule the nation and the capable administer government". Over the ages, examinations have for the most part been the principal method for recruiting talented people into government service.

The examination system as institutionalized at the end of the 6th century A.D. set the precedent for open and competitive examinations, a practice that had far-reaching impact throughout the ages and into the early 20th century.

Under the examinations system, all citizens had an equal chance to become officials, regardless of whether they were nobles or commoners. Any could come out on top if he had the talent and studied hard, thus preventing nepotism or favoritism.

Adhering to the excellent tradition of fairness, justness, and independence inherent in the old examination system, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Founding Father of the Republic of China, made the power of the examination independent of the power of administration by creating the Examination Yuan an independent branch of the Five-Power National Government of the Republic of China.

II. The Organization and Functions
of the Ministry of Examination

The ROC Constitution promulgated in 1947 prescribes that the Examination Yuan "shall have charge of matters relating to examination, employment, appointment, service rating, salary scale, promotion and transfer, tenure, commendation, pecuniary aid in case of death, retirement, and old age pension." And, according to article 5 of the Additions to the Constitution promulgated by the President in 1994, the Examination Yuan is in charge of: 1. examinations; 2. the appointment, tenure, and financial security of government employees; and 3. regulatory matters concerning the appointment and discharge, evaluation, salary, promotion, and citation of government employees.

As stipulated in its Organization Law, the Examination Yuan has three major branches: the Ministry of Examination and the Ministry of Civil Service, and the Commission of Tenure and Training for Civil Service.

The Ministry of Examination is in charge of matters concerning examinations. It also supervises the operations of examination related government agencies at all levels.

After revisions to its organic law in 1994, the Ministry of Examination consists the Examination Planning Department, Senior and Junior Civil Service Examinations Department, Special Examinations Department, Professionals and Technologists Examinations Depar- tment, General Affairs Department; Bank for Examination Ques- tions and Information Management Department (Computer center), as well as a Training Committee, Secretarial office, Personnel office , Accounting office, Statistics office, and Government Ethics office.

III. The Current
National Examination System

The ROC's national examination system currently in effect comprises four major types of tests: 1. Civil Service Examinations; 2. Examinations for Professionals and Technologists (P/T); 3. Screening of Qualifications for candidates campaigning for elected posts in public offices; 4. Qualifying Examinations for self-educated candidates.

According to Article 85 of the ROC Constitution, selection of public functionaries shall be through an open, competitive examination system. And no person shall be appointed to a public office unless he is qualified through examination.

Article 86 of the Constitution also stipulates that the certification of credentials to practice as a professional specialist or technician shall be ascertained and determined through examination by the Examination Yuan in accordance to the law.

Both Civil Service Examinations and Examinations for Professionals and Technologists are based on two levels--Senior Examinations and Junior Examinations. In addition, Special Examinations can be held when there is a special need.

The Senior and Junior Civil Service Examinations are the most traditional parts of our examination system. For many years, they have been approved of by the general public, and therefore every citizen would feel proud of passing them. These two examinations are held annually every August. To recruit talented individuals with advanced education into government service, Senior Examinations have been divided into two levels since 1990, according to qualifications and educational background: I. For holders of master's or more advanced degrees; II. For holders of bachelor's degrees. After revi- sion to the Law of Examination in 1996, Senior Examinations have been divided into three levels, according to qualifications and educational background°G∆Ķ.For holders of doctor's degree°F∆∂.For holders of mas- ter or mored advanced degree°F∆∑.For holders of bachelors's degrees or more advanced degrees. Furthermore, Elememtary Examinations will be held to provide the R.O.C. citizens above 18 years old. As a result of rapid social changes, government agencies frequently have special professional considerations in their employment of people. Therefore, Special Examinations are held whenever successful candidates in the Senior and Junior Examinations cannot fully meet the special requirements. At present, Special Examinations are divided into five levels, respectively A, B, C, D and E.

Furthermore, Promotion Examinations are regularly held to encourage public functionaries to remain in government service and to upgrade their skills.

In the Examinations for Professionals and Technologists(P/T), candidates are tested for their qualifications to practice specialized professions, or to determine whether they are qualified to practice as registered technologists. Categories of such personnel include lawyers, accountants, architects, nutritionists, engineers of various kinds, medical functionaries (Western medicine), doctors of Chinese medicine, veterinarians, seafarers, harbor pilots, ship surveyors, crew of fishing boats, and ship radiogram operators. Successful candidates receive certificates to practice in their specialized fields, but do not qualify for employment as government employees.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen believed that an examination system could correct the inherent defects of an electoral system. Therefore, he personally drafted Article 15 of the Fundamentals of National Reconstruction which states that "All elected and appointed government officials at the central or local level must have their qualifications evaluated and certified by the central government."

According to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law amended in 1994, the Examination Yuan is also responsible for screening of qualifications for candidates campaigning for elected posts in public offices, including candidates running for the post of provincial-level city mayor, county-level city mayor, and rural township and urban township chief. Qualification screening of candidates considers both their educational background and work experience.

Since National Examinations are designed to match with our educational system, there are a fixed set of educational criteria for taking such examinations. Qualifying Examinations, on the other hand, are designed to provide self-educated people or school graduates wishing to cultivate a specialty different from their major a chance to secure the qualifications for choosing a new career. These examinations presently comprise Senior/Junior Qualifying Examinations and Qualifying Examinations for Doctors of Chinese Medicine.

All civil service candidates, after passing the written Senior and Junior Civil Service Examinations, must undergo six months of basic training and an on-the-job internship. Only upon satisfactory completion of their training are they issued certificates pending appointment.

Basic training is conducted by government training centers, while on-the-job internships are assigned based on examination grades and personal interest among government agencies or schools where job vacancies are available.

Starting in 1989, successful candidates who are not graduates of Chinese medicine departments but have passed the Examination for Doctors of Chinese Medicine, must undergo an 18-month special internship which includes a basic medical training phase and a clinical practice phase to acquire sufficient clinical experience at their own personal expense. China Medical College and its affiliated hospital are commissioned by the Ministry of Examination to implement this internship program.

IV. The Current
National Examination Process

The most distinctive characteristics of the examination system in the Republic of China are the independence of examining agencies and the open competitiveness of examinations.

In order to ensure the fairness and equality of examinations and meet employment needs, a number of interrelated measures and regulations have been established during the entire examination process, ranging from employment plans submitted by agencies, seeking to fill a position to forming examination boards, conducting and grading examinations, calculating test grades, announcing examination results, training, and allocating job assignments to successful candidates.

The first set of regulations and measures concern the formation of Examination Boards for conducting examinations.

Examination Boards are ad hoc organizations formed by the chief commissioner, commissioners of the board, and the Minister of Examination.

Through discussions, members of the Examination Boards formulate examinations questions, mark answers, and review results and decide the level of passing examination marks.

The second category of regulations and measures concerns supervision of the examination process.

According to the Examination Supervision Law, when conducting national examinations, testing agencies must request in writing that the Control Yuan dispatch its personnel to supervise the whole process, which includes sealing test papers, safekeeping the sealed candidate namelist, opening the numbered seals, printing, sealing, and distributing test questions, and checking grades, reopening the namelist, and formally announcing successful examinees.

The third category of regulations and measures sealing the examinee names on test papers.

To ensure the fair grading of test papers, all test papers at first numbered and then sealed prior to the examination. The relationship between the seal number and the examinee is registered in the sealed name register, which must then be sealed and kept by supervisors. After the final results are determined, the namelist is reopened in the presence of supervisors and the successful candidates are disclosed.

The fourth category of regulations and measures involves sequestration at the examination preparation site.

Before the examination is over, all examination questions must be kept strictly confidential. Therefore, the drafting, proofreading, printing, binding, and sealing of test sheets must be done within a sequestered area. Test preparation personnel are sequestered until after the examinations are concluded. During this period, no staff member is allowed contact with the outside world. All test envelopes are sealed and affixed with chops by test supervision commissioners and can be opened and distributed only after they are sent to the test sites.

The current National Examination Sequestration Facility of the Ministry of Examination was inaugurated in 1987. Specially designed as a test-preparation sequestration facility this building contains equipment for supervision and control,and is ideally suited for safeguarding the security of the examination process.

The fifth category of regulations and methods concerns withdrawal in the case of any conflict of interest.

The regulations requiring withdrawal in the case of conflict of interest exists to ensure impartiality in the national examinations. Any staff member who is the spouse, blood relative, or relative by marriage of an examinee shall withdraw from test preparations activities for that examination, such as formulating questions, grading test papers, reviewing test resutls, conducting oral tests, sealing test papers, supervising examinations, or safeguarding test papers.

V. Conclusion

Government policies need government employees to carry them out. And the degree of professional expertise of lawyers, accountants, architects, various technicians, medical people, and other technical people is closely connected to the safety of life and property for the public. And whether or not elected public officials are competent to represent a constituency or administer depends on the complementary operations of a screening system for candidate qualifications and the electoral system.

The national examination system guarantees set standards for professional expertise and the competence of elected representatives of the people.

Every examination or screening by Ministry of Examinations is held to select talented people to serve our society. Furthermore, the Ministry in recent years has continuously conducted research and planning of testing policies, improving examination methods, establishing test-question banks, promoting automation, simplifying testing procedures, bolstering the impartiality and openner of the examination process, and actively disseminating examination-related information, so as to raise the public credibility of national examinations.

All these efforts have won even greater support and trust by the citizenry. This has allowed the full functioning of the national examination system and the tight integration of education, examination and appointment to attain the goal of selecting the right person for the right position, and realizing Dr. Sun Yat-sen's grand scheme of a Five-Power Constitution.

Last Update : May 20th, 1996 13:00 CST