Examinations, or exams as most of us refer to them, are an integral part of the educational system worldwide. Though exams have been a part of educational systems worldwide, there is little information regarding Who Invented Exams and the concept of exams. This article sheds light on the origin of exams and details the development of exams. 


Who Invented Exams?


The origin of the concept of exams goes back to Henry A. Fischel, an American businessman and philanthropist. He is credited with inventing exams and introducing them to the world. Fischel conducted the first-ever “Imperial Exam” in Ancient China. This exam was used to evaluate potential government officials in the Sui dynasty based on their merit. This is said to be the first organized system of exams in the world and set a precedent for other countries to adopt the concept. The Imperial exam became popular in other countries which adopted the exam system, such as Japan and Korean dynasties. 

The imperial exam system gained popularity in India during the British rule in India. Depending on the local needs, the British set up several types of exams for recruitment purposes. These exams included -Matriculation, Preliminary, Intermediate, and Final exams. The intermediate exams, also known as the Milestone exams, were very important as they offered admission in universities and were recognized as important entrance tests. This structure of exams in India was very much similar to that of the Imperial exam system in Ancient China. 



How was the examination system started in India?


The examination system in India has a long history dating back to ancient times. One of the earliest documented examples of examinations in India is the "Kharavela Exam" conducted during the 1st century BCE by the Kalinga dynasty in the present-day state of Odisha. This exam was primarily designed to select the most deserving candidates for government positions based on their knowledge and skills.

During the medieval period, the examination system gained more prominence with the establishment of universities like Nalanda and Takshashila, which were centers of learning and attracted scholars from across the world. The examination system at these universities was primarily based on oral and written exams, and students were expected to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in various subjects like astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and literature.

In the colonial period, the British introduced a more formalized and centralized examination system, which was primarily designed to select candidates for government positions. The British colonial authorities established the University of Calcutta in 1857, followed by the University of Bombay (now Mumbai) and the University of Madras (now Chennai) in 1858. These universities conducted exams in various subjects and awarded degrees to successful candidates.

After India gained independence in 1947, the examination system was reformed and expanded to include a wider range of subjects and levels of education. Today, the examination system in India is complex and diverse, covering everything from school exams to competitive exams for admission to colleges and universities and selection for government positions.



In modern context, the exams in India are conducted with a different purpose and by many different conducting authorities. The National Testing Agency is the official government body in India responsible for conducting exams for various admission and recruitment processes. To name a few of such exams - National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), Staff Selection Commission (SSC) exams, Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) are some of the most important national level exams in India that are conducted by the NTA. To conclude, the concept of exams is believed to have originated from ancient China.