In the long-ish list of ‘times Ohtaka-sensei speaks to my
very niche interests’, I’m really glad Kou had a character who got his position
through the Chinese Civil Service Exam.
At times, I do think that MAGI is a bit overloaded with royals, secret
royals, and used-to-be royals, but Ka Kobun is someone who went from
plowboy to prime minister based on the
Civil Service Exam.
The Civil Service Exam remained relatively unchanged from the
early 7th century to the start of the 20th. Bureaucrat hopefuls would have to work their
way up 3 levels of exams: local, provincial, and imperial. Test takers would spend 3 days and 3 nights in
a 6 x 3 ft (183 x 91 cm) cell. Exam questions
covered topics including military strategy, agriculture, and geography. Tang dynasty exams also included a poetry
In contrast, assignment based on standardized testing did
not take root in Europe until much later. The British Civil Service exam, for example, was
based directly off of the Chinese model and established in 1855. French, German, and American exam systems
came soon after.