Who Invented Exams?: Everything About The Origin & History

Exams have become a ubiquitous part of modern education systems around the world. They are used to evaluate a student’s knowledge, understanding and skills in a particular subject or area of study. However, the origins of exams are shrouded in mystery, and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who invented exams. In this blog post, we will explore the history of exams and try to uncover the truth about who invented exams.

Who Invented Exams

Early Forms Of Exams

The concept of testing students’ knowledge and understanding is not a new one. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years. In ancient China, for example, students were required to take exams in order to enter the civil service. These exams were known as the imperial examinations, and they were used to select candidates for government positions. Henry Fischel was the man who invented exams, he was a businessman and philanthropist in America. The exams were incredibly difficult, and only a small percentage of candidates were successful.

Similarly, in ancient Greece, students were required to take exams in order to enter the Academy, a school founded by Plato. These exams were called the Diaitētēs, and they were used to test a student’s knowledge of mathematics, music and philosophy.

The Rise Of Formal Education

The formal education system as we know it today began to emerge during the Middle Ages. During this period, universities began to spring up all over Europe. These universities were

The first recorded use of exams in a university setting was at the University of Bologna in Italy in the 11th century. Here, students were required to take exams in order to graduate. These exams were known as the disputations, and they were used to test a student’s ability to argue and defend their ideas.

The Industrial Revolution And Standardised Testing

The Industrial Revolution had a profound impact on education. With the rise of industry, there was a growing demand for an educated workforce. As a result, governments began to invest more heavily in education, and schools began to expand rapidly.

During this period, standardised testing began to emerge. Standardised tests are tests that are designed to be administered and scored in a consistent manner. They are used to compare the performance of different students or groups of students.

The first standardised test was the Army Alpha test, which was developed by psychologist Robert Yerkes in 1917. This test was used to evaluate the intelligence of soldiers during World War I. It was later adapted for use in schools and became known as the Stanford-Binet test.

How & Who Invented Exams

When discussing who found exams, it is worth delving into the history of various types of exams. In addition to the Imperial Examination, there are a few more exams that are worth exploring that will pique your interest.

The Imperial Examination

The Imperial Examination, the world’s first known exam, originated in China. It involved a merit-based selection process to identify candidates suitable for government positions. This system was implemented during the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui.

The Civil Services Examination

Following that, England introduced their own examinations in 1806, known as the Civil Services Examination. This examination was also adopted in India and aimed to assess candidates for civil service and administrative roles.

The Cambridge Assessment

During the late 19th century, the Cambridge Assessment was introduced as a standardised university examination for admission to Oxford and Cambridge. Initially intended for male students, the Cambridge Assessment covered subjects such as English, Mathematics, Latin, History, French, German, and Geography.

In conclusion, the origins of who invented exams are difficult to trace. However, it is clear that they have been around for thousands of years. Exams have evolved over time, from the imperial examinations of ancient China to the standardised tests of the modern era. Today, exams are an integral part of the education system and are used to evaluate a student’s knowledge, understanding and skills. While exams may have their critics, they remain a valuable tool for assessing a student’s progress and ensuring that they are well-prepared for the challenges of the future.


Q1. When was the first exam taken?

Ans: The earliest examination-related records in Europe come from Bologna and date to 1215 or 1219. These were primarily oral and took the form of a debate, decision, defence, or public lecture.

Q2. Who created homework?

Ans: The origins of homework have not been tracked down precisely, although Roberto Nevelis from Venice in Italy is known to have created homework in 1905, but some people considered this a myth. Later on, Horace Mann played a larger role in the origins of homework in the 19th century.

Q3. Why do we have exams?

Ans: Exams are intended to assess a candidate’s knowledge and comprehension. They assist in demonstrating to the person or organisation how well a candidate can evaluate and respond to questions in a certain subject. Exams are a necessary part of life, not just for students but also for adults.

Q4. Who invented exams in India?

Ans: The East India Company first instituted the Civil Services Examination in India, followed by the British Empire. The previous method of recommending candidates for available posts was replaced by an examination for eligible candidates.

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Who Invented Exams?: Everything About The Origin & History

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