Tested: Cultivating Talent and China’s Standardized Exams, 1905 to 1977


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships




Given pointed criticisms against the civil service examination system in late imperial China, it is remarkable that testing not only continued, but also became deeply embedded in new Chinese schools in the 20th century. This project explores how and why testing became integrated into academic promotion to select schools, and its impact on Chinese conceptions of meritocracy. My hypothesis is that educational psychologists, trained in the United States, introduced aptitude testing in ways that reinforced the scientific value of educational testing. Originally influenced by the US, today Chinese testing cultures significantly contribute to global pressure to impose standardized exams.