In this paper, the appearance and the development of the concept “gakuryoku" or scholastic achievement or ability during the period of 1872-1945 were described and analyzed using the viewpoints of discourse and the body. At the beginning of Meiji period (1868-1911), the word “gakuryoku" appeared in official documents issued by the Ministry of Education. “Gakuryoku" meant students' levels of acquiring knowledge, which was accepted through the old idea of “hakugaku" or extensive learning. Soon after examination system was introduced, “gakuryoku" was deeply connected to examination at schools. Giving too much importance to academic ability was criticized from the holistic conception of education and “gakuryoku" already in Meiji Period and particularly in Taisho Period (1912-1925) with the movement of new education. In 1930s, the tested intelligence was regarded as “gakuryoku" under the popularity of scientific methods. Then “gakuryoku" was related to Confucian morals under the wartime, namely “gakuryoku" was regarded as not only the academic ability, but also mental ability to support the Japanese Empire. Through the study of the development of the concept of “gakuryoku", it was clarified that “gakuryoku" was not simple scholastic achievement, but based on the idea which considered students as potential existence.