Jinshi, 進士, was the Tang dynasty’s imperial examination. There were regional examinations, but the highest and final degree took place in the palace at the capital of Chang’an. As with entrance examinations today, passing or failing could mean all the difference in one’s political career. In lean years, when jobs were few, no one passed the examination. Du Fu, for example, was one of the many Tang poets who failed the examination. Li Bai never took the examination, achieving success based on his artistic and poetic talents.