History of written examination

Written examination is an examination that is administered on paper. An examination taker who takes a written examination could respond to specific items by writing or typing within a given space of the test or on a separate form or document. This form of examination originated from Ancient China in 605 under the Sui Dynasty in 605 AD when they organised a nationwide standardised examination referred to as imperial examination for the selection of candidates who applied for different government positions.

By copying the Chinese model of examination, in 1806 England used the standardised test for the selection of applicants into Her Majesty Civil Services.  That same year, India used the standardised examination for the recruitment of applicants based on the fact that recruitment should be on the basis of merit which is determined through standardized written examination, that candidates should have a solid general education to enable inter-departmental transfers, that recruits should be graded into a hierarchy and that promotion should be through achievement.

During two World Wars the standardised testing was used to determine the mental aptitude of recruits to the military. For instance, the US Army used the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale to test the IQ of the soldiers.  After the World Wars, different establishments began to use written examinations to assess the capability of applicants into different positions.

In 1952, the first Advanced Placement (AP) test was administered to begin closing the gap between high schools and colleges. In modern education system, written examinations are used for the assessment of students’ performance in different aspects of the educational system.

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