Top 10 Toughest Exams in India & Their Difficulty Levels

“What Comes Easy Won’t Last. What Lasts Won’t Come Easy.” This quote applies to every aspect of life including the toughest exams in India, student life, working life and even old-age life.

India’s toughest exams include – UPSC IAS, NDA entrance exam, IIT entrance, and CAT for MBA.

If we talk about such competitive exams, they are a nightmare for every student. The family pressure and the educational burden get together and raise the stress levels. Hence, the anxiety of students rises rapidly. However, students need to stay calm and practice hard to get better results.

Furthermore, this article is not to scare the hell out of the students. Instead, it prepares them mentally to put in the required efforts to attain a certain level of success and satisfaction. We have made a list of the toughest exams in India to let the students learn about them briefly. Apart from this, the aspiring students will get to know what and where to focus on while preparing for these examinations. So, let us check out the list.

List of Toughest Exams in India

In this section, we will let you know about the most difficult exams in India. Apart from this, we will give you a brief description of these exams along with some info on books, coaching, question papers, level of determination required, exam topics, tips and more. Go through the list given below and start preparing yourself as per the requirements.


UPSC IAS – Civil Services Entrance Examinations

Union Public Service Commission conducts this exam to recruit eligible students for various Central Government posts such as IFS (Indian Foreign Service) and IAS (Indian Administrative Service). Therefore, there is a reason why this exam tops the list of toughest exams in India. Many people do not even consider giving this exam due to its toughness level.

The aspirants have to go through three levels which include:

  • Preliminary exam
  • Mains
  • Personality Test or Interview

The fear and risk of rejection are consistent at all three levels. Also, more than 9 lakh candidates appear in this exam every year, and the pass percentage lies between 0.1 to 0.3 percent. Moreover, the students have a vast syllabus to cover for this examination. They are required to emphasize Indian History, the Geographical features of the nation, and Human rights laws. Therefore, the students need to have their command in academics, current affairs, and general knowledge. Apart from this, the selection procedure is also extremely difficult, so the aspirants are supposed to prepare themselves accordingly.


IIT JEE Entrance Examination

If you aspire to be one of the successful engineers and study in top engineering institutes of India, you need to qualify for the IIT JEE exam. This examination is considered the second toughest exam in India. It also comes on the list of the world’s toughest exams.

Furthermore, this exam is conducted to test the students for admissions in prestigious IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), IISc (Indian Institute of Science), and other institutes. The students have to go through two levels to qualify for this exam. Also, the aspirants have to first clear the JEE mains to be eligible for sitting in JEE Advanced exam. 

Moreover, the students who successfully pass the JEE Advanced exam can join the undergraduate programs in Architecture, Engineering, and sciences in their dream colleges. Apart from this, more than 12 lakh students appear in JEE main, and out of them, only around 2.2 lakh students make it to the JEE Advanced. Thus, only around 11, 000 aspirants get selected for the top engineering colleges. 

Apart from this, as per the new changes made in 2019 for JEE Mains, the candidates can appear twice a year for the entrance exam. Also, the best score out of these two will be considered to rank as per the regulations laid by authorities. 


GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

GATE is the third toughest exam in India. The students who aspire to complete their Masters and Doctoral courses from government Engineering colleges, including IITs and NITs. Moreover, the GATE score is also accepted by selected Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) companies of India’s government. 

The score that is obtained in the exam is valid to get admission within three years from the date of announcement of results. Furthermore, you do not have to bother about the age limit for this exam. You just require a Bachelor’s degree in the related science or engineering stream. 

Furthermore, the students who are in the final year of either Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can also appear in the GATE exam. 


CAT (Common Admission Test)

Although some students do not consider this exam to be as difficult as the UPSC or JEE Advanced, still it is not that easy to pass this examination. Thus, it is one of the toughest exam in India. 

The Common Admission Test is conducted for those students who aspire to pursue their studies in the topmost management institutes and business schools of India. Moreover, it is the test for the aspirants who wish to get admission in IIMs.

Furthermore, the students are required to have their command in English, Mathematics, and Logical Reasoning. The students are also tested for Interpretation and Verbal Ability skills. Thus, the students have to be strong with language skills along with business-related issues.

Apart from this, more than two lakh students appear in the Common Admission Test, and just around 1500 candidates make it to the IIMs annually. Besides, the score of the entrance exam is accepted by many other universities that offer MBA. 


NDA Exam – National Defence Academy

National Defence Academy entrance examination is part of the elite club of toughest exams in India. There are a number of students who have a deep desire to make a bright career in the armed forces. Therefore, this entrance exam is a gateway to the National Defence Services such as the Air force, Army, and Navy.

The students are picked on the basis of the under-listed grounds:

  • Written Examination
  • Psychological Aptitude Test
  • Intelligence Test
  • Personality Test
  • Interview

Therefore, the students who aspire to be in the armed forces require to be both physically and mentally fit. This is the reason behind this examination being the toughest exam in India. Furthermore, this exam is conducted twice a year, in April and September. Apart from this, any student who has appeared or passed the twelfth class exam is eligible for the NDA entrance exam. 


NID (National Institute Of Design Entrance Exam)

The National Institute of Design entrance exam is conducted by the NID Admission Committee. It is a design aptitude test that is conducted to test the design skills of the students and accordingly select the eligible candidates for admission to the prestigious NIDs (National Institutes of Design). The students who are extremely creative, only they can clear this entrance exam. 

Furthermore, this exam is held in all the major cities of India. The National Institute of Design offers admission in the under-listed courses:

  • Bachelor of Design (BDes)
  • Graduate Diploma Programme in Design (GDPD)
  • Master of Design (MDes)

The NID entrance exam consists of two rounds. In the first round, the candidate has to clear the written examination in which the students are tested in various areas of designing, including perception, attitude, aptitude, motivation, and achievement. Furthermore, after clearing the written test, the students appear for the second round in which the candidate has to face the personal interview. 


NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test)

The All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) was replaced by the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (UG) in 2012. The NEET-UG exam is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) until 2018. But now, since 2019, this pre-medical test is conducted by NTA ( National Testing Agency).

Furthermore, after qualifying for this test, the candidates can get admissions in MBBS/BDS courses in all the private and government medical/dental colleges of India. The AIIMS and JIPMER are excluded from this list. 

Moreover, around ten lakh students appear in NEET to compete for around 1 lakh seats. Apart from this, the entrance exam is held in May, and this test is mandatory to get admission to any medical courses in India.


UGC-NET (University Grants Commission- National Eligibility Test)

The National Eligibility test is yet another exam that is added to the list of toughest exams in India. This National level exam is conducted to select Assistant Professor and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) in Indian colleges and universities. Furthermore, this examination is conducted for 83 subjects.

UGC-NET is now conducted by NTA (National Testing Agency). Moreover, the difficulty level of this exam is so high that many people fail to qualify for it even on the fourth or fifth attempt. The reason behind this toughness is that the students have to deeply go through the entire syllabus of two years of their Master’s degree. Also, the time duration for this preparation is less as compared to the syllabus. 

Apart from this, the exam is conducted twice a year, in June and December. Besides, the students are eligible for this exam only if they have secured a minimum of 55% marks in their Master’s degree. Furthermore, the students can only appear in the subject of their post-graduation.


CLAT (Common Law Admission Test)

Even the Common Law Admission Test has the reputation of being one of the toughest exams in India. This test is conducted for the admissions of students in Undergraduate and Postgraduate programs such as LLB and LLM. The courses that you can take admission in after cracking CLAT includes the following:

  • BA LLB (Hons)
  • BSc LLB (Hons)
  • BSW LLB (Hons)
  • B.Com LLB (Hons)
  • LM.

Moreover, the score obtained in this exam is accepted in the top 16 Law Universities of India. Apart from this, only the students who have deep knowledge of Law and have given enough time for the preparation can crack this examination. 


Chartered Accountant – CA Exam

This exam is historically known for its toughness and is the oldest member in the elite club of toughest exams in India. The Chartered Accountant exam is conducted by ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). The ICAI was established in 1949 to regulate the Chartered Accountancy profession in India. 

The CA exam is conducted in three levels that are as follows:

  • Common Proficiency Test (CPT)
  • Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC)
  • CA Final Examination

Therefore, the candidates who clear all the levels of the CA exam become certified Chartered Accountants in India. Apart from this, the CA CPT is conducted every year in January, June, November/December. Moreover, the success rate of this exam varies from 8 to 16 percent because of the difficulty level. CA is in fact the toughest exam in India. 

Bottom Line – Toughest Exam in India

Exams are not a smooth sailing affair for the students. But with motivation, dedication, and the right amount of preparation, you can crack any of these exams. Moreover, you must not feel scared of the competition to score higher marks, as it helps to stay focused and improve your preparation. 

Furthermore, the mock tests you take during the preparations will let you know how much more effort and time you need to put in. Also, these tests will help you boost your confidence to appear in the toughest exams of India. 

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