Evolutionarily speaking, this idea of testing, filtering, and selecting can go back to the idea of sexual selection. Mates choose others via specific traits. But when did this system emerge in a societal context?
According to Ancient Chinese history, China was the first country to implement testing systems, called the Imperial Examination, during the Sui Dynasty in 605 AD. The main purpose of this exam was to select specific individuals for governmental positions. England was the second nation to adopt this system in 1905, 1300 years later, for similar purposes of selecting candidates for Her Majesty's Civil Service.
One of the earliest photographs of examination in 1940.
Annual South Korean college entrance exmination, called Soo-neung(수능). The exams last from 8:40 AM to 5:35 PM (approx. 9 hours).