11 Toughest Exams in India

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In the present system of academic excellence, the role of competitive exams is vast. These are designed to test academic proficiency, aptitude, physical, technical, and mental skills, thereby providing a platform to identify excellence and intellect.

Conducted in various modes – oral, online, pen and paper, performative, and so on- the toughest exam in India occurs on a yearly or bi-yearly basis and requires candidates to prepare vigorously and exhibit certain skills to clear these exams with flying colours.

In the category of the toughest entrance exam in India, there are varying degrees of difficulty, required skills, knowledge, and levels for clearance.

While most of them can be cracked within several attempts with complete dedication and hard work, others require absolute conviction and are considered a notch higher than the rest, being very tough.

Most Toughest Exams in India

Here is a list of India’s top 10 toughest exams arranged in their degree of difficulty, the toughest being placed first, followed by the rest in decreasing order.

1. UPSC-Civil Services Exams

Conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for recruiting of manpower into the various Civil Services posts under The Government of India, the Civil Service Examination (CSE) is for aspirants aiming to work in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and other services. For quite a long time, the UPSC-Civil Services Exams hold the position of the toughest exam in India.

The exam has a record of more than 11.37 lakh candidates registering every year and gaining a success rate of 0.1%-0.3%, of which 0.03% get the honour of being recruited into the IAS.

Conducted in two stages, the Preliminary examination comprises two papers (General Studies and Aptitude Test), and the Main examination consists of nine subjective papers, followed by the Personality Test (Interview).

The entire examination process, from the Preliminary examination to the final round, takes approximately one year.

2. JEE (Joint Entrance Examination)

Considered one of the toughest entrance exams in India, this all-India engineering entrance test has been conducted by the NTA (National Testing Agency) since 2019.

The Joint Entrance Examination JEE (Main) consists of two papers – Paper I concerns the admissions to Undergraduate Engineering Programs as that of B.E or B.Tech. At NITs, IITs, and other CFTIs (Centrally Funded Technical Institutions).

JEE (Main) also functions as an eligibility test for the JEE (Advanced) that is conducted for admission into IITs. Candidates who clear the JEE (Main) can appear for the JEE (Advanced).

The JEE (Advanced) examination consists of three parts – Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Paper II concerns admissions into the India’s B.Arch. and B. Planning courses.

With over 6 lakh candidates have appeared for the JEE (Main) in 2021, the passing percentage for the general category was 89.75, 78.21 for the EWS, 74.31, 54 and 44 for the NCL, SC and ST categories respectively.


Conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) on behalf of the National Coordination Board – GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) and Government of India, the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is aimed at the testing of complex intellectual understanding of undergraduate engineering and science subjects.

Initiated in 1983, the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering is conducted once per year. The score obtained in this toughest entrance exam in India is considered about admissions into various post-graduate education programs (Master of Engineering, Master of Technology, Doctor of Philosophy) in higher education institutes of India.

The scores obtained in the GATE examination are considered by multitudinous government-owned companies in their recruitment process of entry-level graduate engineers.

In 2021, out of the 7,11,542 candidates who appeared for the GATE examination, 1,26,813 candidates have cleared the examination, 98,732 being male and 28,081 being female candidates.

4. CAT

The CAT (Common Admission Test) was initiated to be utilized in the admission process of The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) into their business organization programs.

Each year, the CAT is undertaken by one of the IIMs on a rotational basis. It is a computer-based test that assesses a candidate’s aptitude and language skills consisting of a comprehensive syllabus that considers three sections: QA – Quantitative Ability, DILR – Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and VARC – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.

The exam is conducted for three hours, with one hour allotted per section. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, examined 2 hours with 40 mins allotted per section.

Organized by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, in 2021, the number of candidates registered was 2.30 lakh, while 1.92 lakh candidates appeared for the exam.

Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) consider the scores of the CAT instead of The Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET) that was conducted previously.

5. AIIMS (PG) Entrance Exam

The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences Entrance Exam is an entrance test conducted twice a year for admission into MD/MS/MDS/DM./M.Ch post-graduate courses.

The candidates applying for this examination must have an MBBS degree for the MD/MS courses and a BDS degree for the MDS course from a university recognized by the Dental/Medical Council of India.

These candidates must have a minimum of 55% marks for the general/OBC category, while candidates belonging to the ST/SC category must have a minimum of 50% aggregate marks. All candidates must have completed 12 months of rotating internship or practical training.

With 124 seats per session, there are 2 sessions of selections for candidates eligible. Of these 124 available seats per selection session, approximately 25% of seats are reserved for AIIMS (UG) students and 50% for reserved categories.

Owing to the reservation, this becomes the toughest exam in India, where only the worthy and deserving can avail the reserved seats.

6. CA – Chartered Accountancy Exam

The Chartered Accountancy Exam conducted by the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) is a three-tiered examination consisting of the Common Proficiency Test (CPT) at level 1, followed by the Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) at level 2, which has a total of seven subjects split into groups of four and three.

Level 3 or the CA Final Examination, to be attempted to post a 3-year articleship period, determines whether the candidate qualifies to be registered as a Chartered Accountant or not.

The success rate in the Chartered Accountancy Exam, usually declared based on the demand for Chartered Accountants in India, ranges from 8-16%, making the Chartered Accountancy Exam the toughest in India.

Initiated in 1949, the examination has a 73-year-old history of selecting qualified Chartered Accountants for the nation.

With the Chartered Accountancy Exam offered by the ICAI being ranked No.02 worldwide, it is a fact that among all those who attempt the Chartered Accountancy Exam, only 3-8% clear the inter and final levels.


The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is one of the toughest entrance exams in India to seek admission into the 22 National Law Universities in India.

This entrance test is to be attempted after Class XII and Graduation in Law to get admitted into the undergraduate programs in Law and Law for Master of Law (LL.M) projects, respectively.

These scores are also accepted by many of the private Law Schools in India, along with many private-sector undertakings such as that ONGC, Coal India, BHEL, Steel Authority of India, Oil India, etc, considering CLAT PG (Post Graduation) scores as one of the criteria for legal position recruitments.

The 2-hour CLAT tests Legal Reasoning, Legal General Knowledge, Logical Reasoning, English Comprehension, General Knowledge, Quantitative Techniques and Mathematics and Current Affairs.

The examination is conducted yearly, with the score/grade validity lasting one year. With approximately 77,000 test takers every year, the qualification rate of the Common Law Admission Test is around 3%.

8. IES (Indian Engineering Services)

The Indian Engineering Services (IES) examination or Engineering Services Examination (ESE) is a three-tiered competitive exam undertaken by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for the mechanical and managerial occupations of the Government of India.

The Indian Engineering Services examination levels comprise a General Aptitude Test, an Objective Technical paper, a technical paper, and an Interview.

In India, the Indian Engineering Services examination is one of the toughest entrance exams that is most sought after by a multitude of aspirants each year due to the lucrativeness of the offered job.

The jobs offered to allow the candidate to be employed under the Indian Railways, Power, Telecommunications, Central Water Engineering, Defence Service of Engineers, Central Engineering Service, and so on.

The age limit to attempt this test ranges from 21-30 years. The first position offered to these Class I officers would be that of Assistant Executive Engineer, and one can be promoted to the highest rank of Chairman or Managing Director.

The UPSC IES Preliminary Examination was conducted on 20 February 2022, while the UPSC IES Mains Examination was conducted on 26 June 2022.


The University Grants Commission – National Eligibility Test is an examination that can only be attempted by candidates who have completed their postgraduation.

These eligibility criteria narrow the candidature and make this one of the toughest exams in India. The candidates appearing for this examination aspire to be shortlisted as school and college-level Assistant Professors and awarded Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), which also qualifies them to undertake a PhD.

In 2013, the University Grants Commission (UGC) declared that candidates who clear the National Eligibility Test (NET) would be eligible to be qualified for lucrative employment offers in PSUs.

PSUs can consider the UGC-NET scores for enrolment to the posts of administrators in their associations in verticals like science (R&D), administration, corporate interchanges, HR, accounts department, and so on.

The UGC-NET examination 2022 will be held in 2 phases. Phase I was conducted between 9-12 July 2022, while Phase II will be conducted between 12-14 August 2022.

10. NDA

The National Defense Academy (NDA) is the Joint Services institute of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are trained jointly before they are assigned roles in the defence services.

The National Defense Academy Examination, one of the toughest entrance exams in India, is conducted by the UPSC for admission into the Army, Navy and Air Force wings of the NDA.

All candidates who have cleared their 10+2 examinations and aspire to be a part of the armed forces must clear this test as a primary eligibility criterion. The National Defense Academy entrance examination is conducted twice a year, i.e., NDA (I) in April and NDA (II) in September.

The National Defense Academy and Naval Academy Examinations are a two-level process wherein the first level consists of the examination. The second level is marked by the personality test or interview conducted by the Service Selection Board (SSB).

In the first ever NDA examination conducted by the UPSC on 14 November 2021, in which women were allowed to appear, more than 1000 candidates cleared the examination out of the 8000 candidates who had appeared.

11. NEET Examination

do you feel NEET is a tough Exam? of course, NEET is a difficult, hardworking, and challenging exam. We are talking about the single-level medical entrance examination of the country, with millions of aspirants appearing for the exam with limited medical seats in desired colleges. For more NEET details, you can visit National Testing Agency (nta.ac.in).

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Every year a lot of aspirants register for the toughest exam in India. And only a few make their mark with utmost hard work, sheer dedication, and most of all, brilliant performance.

If you are one of the many aspirants for these examinations, be prepared to put in your best efforts to prove yourself and stand out from the rest!


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