Discuss the significance and impact of the civil service examination on Chinese society. Who benefitted and who did not from the system. Was it actually based upon merit? Why or why not
I disagree with the previous post. The examination system was way more egalitarian and meritocratic than what had come before. It was introduced to reduce the power of local aristocrats. Sure, it was only possible to pass it if you had a lot of education, but at least it was possible to get educated and many people did reach high positions (particularly in T'ang times) without having been born to the aristocracy.
The biggest impact was that the exam was slanted. No, it was not based on merit. It was based on certain cultural knowledge. This way only certain groups could be successful on it, giving the government a great deal of control over who passed.