Jinshi (Chinese: ; pinyin: jìnshì) was the highest and final degree in the imperial examination in Imperial China. The examination was usually taken in the imperial capital in the palace, and was also called the Metropolitan Exam. Recipients are sometimes referred to in English-language sources as Imperial Scholars.
The Jinshi degree was first created after the institutionalization of the civil service exam. Initially it had been "for six categories" but was later consolidated into a single degree. This system first appeared during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). Throughout the Tang Dynasty, every year around 1-2 percent of test takers would obtain a jinshi title out of a total of 1-2 thousand test takers.
The numbers of Jinshi degrees given out were increased in the Song Dynasty, and the examinations were given every three years. Most senior officials of the Song Dynasty were jinshi holders.
The Ming dynasty resumed the civil-service exam after its occurrence became more irregular in the Yuan dynasty. After the reign of the Emperor Yingzong of Ming, it became the rule that only jinshi holders could enter the Hanlin Academy. On average around 89 jinshi per year were conferred.
During the Qing dynasty around 102 jinshi degrees were given a year.
The highest scoring jinshi in the country was known as the zhuangyuan, a term that survives today as a high scoring gaokao test taker or just someone who is very good as a skill.
Subtypes of jinshi recipients
Jinshi Jidi (?, lit. "distinguished jinshi"), graduates ranked first class in the court exam, usually only the top three individuals were qualified for this title.
Zhuangyuan (, lit. "top thesis author"), the jinshi who ranked first overall nationwide.
Bangyan (, lit. "eyes positioned alongside"), the jinshi who ranked second overall just below zhuangyuan.
Tanhua (, lit. "flower snatcher"), the jinshi ranked third overall.
Jinshi Chushen (?, lit. "jinshi background"), the graduates who ranked second class in court exam, ranking immediately after the tanhua.
Tong Jinshi Chushen (, lit. "along with jinshi background"), graduates ranked third class in the court exam.
Sun Jiagan (1713) (Chinese: ; pinyin: S?n Ji?gàn, 1683-1753) officeholder of Libu Shilang,[note 1]Xingbu Shangshu[note 2] by 1730, and later to Libu Shangshu in 1738.He was degraded for disrespect in taking up the Qianlong Emperor's pencil to write with. However, the emperor restored him to office. After holding various posts, in 1741 Sun became Viceroy of Huguang, where he introduced the system of subsidized chiefs, in order to keep the aborigines under control.