List of Top 20 Toughest Exams In India

TheCareerHub, 14th July, 2023


If you want to be successful in today's competitive world, you need to be competent. Competition is present in each and every sector. In order to compete in today's era, you must update yourself in whichever profession you are in. Then only you will be able to survive in this highly competitive world and alternately create a win-win situation for you as well as for your profession.

In order to be successful in life, we have to clear the milestones, and for clearing those milestones, we have to stay determined toward our goals. The same applies to some competitive professions. In order to be eligible for a specific career, we need to clear the entrance exam with a good score. Competitive exams are conducted to test our abilities, whether we fit in a particular profession or are eligible.

In this blog, we will be discussing the top toughest exams in India. The growing competition makes it difficult for you to pass the entrance tests. This may appear challenging, but once you clear the exams with a good score, almost half of the work is done.

Numerous difficult exams in India lead to various job routes. Many major universities, schools, and business institutions use these examinations to discover the best candidate. By analysing their competitive exams, they are looking for the individual who will be a perfect fit in a professional capacity. Let's now draw our attention towards the most toughest exams in India.

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Let’s have a look at each of the exam in detail:

1. UPSC - Union Public Service Commission

You all have heard that UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) is one of India's toughest exams. The UPSC Civil Services Exam, considered among the most prestigious in the country, is held to choose candidates for top administrative jobs in the Central Government of India. It takes a high degree of seriousness, devotion, determination and strenuous effort to succeed in the four-tier exam, consisting of the preliminary exam, the main exam, personality test and interview. The test covers many services, including IAS, IFS and IPS.

All you need to know about UPSC exam:

Particulars Details
Full formUnion Public Service Commission Civil Service Examination
Conducting AuthorityUnion Public Service Commission, Government of India 
UPSC Prelims 2023 Exam Date
  • Prelims Exam Date: 28th May 2023
  • Mains Exam Date: 15th Sept 2023
Frequency Once a year
Mode of examOffline
Medium of examEnglish and Hindi 
Exam Duration Preliminary: 2 Hours and Mains: 3 Hours
Type of questionsPrelims: Objective type questions; Mains: Descriptive type questions 
Official website


Few tough points you need to know about the exam:

  • Number of candidates appearing for the exams every year: 8 to 10 lakh
  • Passing Probability: 0.1% to 0.3%. 
  • Syllabus: Vast, covering topics from all domains such as biology, economics, current affairs, etc.
  • Exam levels: preliminary, mains, and interview round.

2. IIT JEE- Joint Entrance Examination

JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) is one of the standardised national level exams conducted to select 12th class science students who wish to pursue a career in engineering. This exam is divided into two levels: JEE Main and JEE Advanced. You must pass both groups in order to be admitted to the top IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) Institutes. Several engineering colleges, including IITs, accept JEE scores.

  • JEE is considered as one of the most difficult exams because of its endless syllabus, application based questions for competition.
  • Another factor which makes the exam tough is the peer competition as around 6.35 lakh candidates take JEE every year and only 2.5 lakh students secure the seats in IITs.
Full formJoint Entrance Examination
Conducted ByNational Testing Agency (NTA)
IIT JEE Mains 2023 Exam Date
  • January 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31, 2023.
Exam TypeUndergraduate
Exam duration3 hours
Eligibility75% aggregate marks in class 12
Exam LevelAll India Level
Total marks300
FrequencyTwice a year 


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    3. NEET-UG - National Eligibility Entrance Test


    This exam is also a centralised national entrance exam for students who wish to pursue medical careers. Many students take the exam, and passing the NEET with a respectable mark has become difficult because of the increased competition. However, students who want to be doctors and have the necessary qualifications take the exam. Furthermore, this includes students who will be chosen for the nation's prestigious Institutes of National Importance (INI), such as AIIMS and AFMC, making the test difficult to crack.

    Particulars Details 
    Conducted ByNational Testing Agency (NTA)
    Full formNational Eligibility Cum Entrance Test
    NEET 2023 Exam Date7th May 2023
    Exam TypeUnder Graduate
    Eligibility12th or equivalent with Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Biotechnology.
    Exam LevelAll India Level


    4. GATE - Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering

    GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) is an all-India standardised test that is regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country. When it comes to students who specialise in engineering and science, GATE is a name that needs no introduction. It is regarded as one of the most prominent tests in India, and it offers various benefits.

    • GATE exam is tough because it checks the undergraduate knowledge along with the general aptitude of the students.
    • It is also tough because of its vast syllabus and mathematical concepts.
    Conducted ByIndian Institute of Science
    GATE 2023 Exam DateFebruary 4, 5, 11 and 12, 2023 (Announced)
    Exam TypePost Graduate
    EligibilityGraduation in Science or Engineering
    Exam LevelAll India Level


    5. CAT - Common Admission Test

    CAT (Common Admission Test) is also considered to be among the most toughest exams in India. Many CAT aspirants make multiple tries to gain admission to top IIMs (Indian Institute of Management). This exam is given once a year, typically towards the end of November. After passing this exam, the student with the highest percentile is invited to an interview and Group Discussion by IIMs. After completing this exam, the students are chosen.

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    6. CLAT - Common Law Admission Test

    CLAT is one of the toughest exams in India for students who want to pursue their career in law. This national level exam is registered under the Consortium of National Law University to grant admission for law courses at both UG as well as PG levels. While appearing for this exam, you need to know about current economic and legal affairs. Questions related to current affairs as well as legal affairs are mainly asked.

    Conducted ByNational Law Universities
    CLAT 2023 Exam DateNot Yet Decided
    Exam TypeUndergraduate and Postgraduate

    UG: Class 12th with minimum 45%

    PG: 3-year LLB with minimum 50%

    Exam LevelAll India Level


    7. NDA - National Defence Academy


    The National Defence Academy (NDA) exam chooses the Army, Navy, and Air Force applicants. This exam is held twice a year to choose the most courageous and honest candidates for the country's most prestigious defence institution. To be eligible for the NDA's technical entry procedure, students must have taken JEE Mains.

    Conducted ByUPSC
    NDA 2023 Exam Date16th April 2023
    Exam TypeUnder Graduate
    EligibilityAll India Level
    Exam LevelOffline


    8. SSC CGL - Staff Selection Commission - Combined Graduate Level Exam

    The SSC CGL is considered one of the country's largest exams for graduate students. In order to apply for the exam, you must fit into the eligibility criteria that the Staff Selection Commission set up. The applicant must have completed above 18 but not more than 32 years. After cracking the exams with good scores, numerous employment opportunities are available for students. Lucrative career progressions are made in the departments or ministries as per the work experience.

    9. CA - Chartered Accountant


    Chartered Accountant is a professional course. It is also regarded as one of the most toughest exams in India. If you aspire to become a CA, you should be administered under the ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). CA competitive exam consists of three levels:

    • CA Foundation Exam
    • CA Intermediate Exam
    • Final CA Exam

    Students mainly after completion of 12th go for CA foundation. Some prefer to do CA after their graduation. If you plan to pursue CA after graduation, you don't need to go for the CA foundation. You can directly register for the CA Intermediate Exam. Apart from the CA exams, you must complete 3 years of Articleship training. Then only you will become a certified CA member.

    Conducted ByInstitute of Chartered Accountants of India
    CA CPT 2023 Exam DateJune 2023
    Exam TypeUnder Graduate
    Eligibility12th with a minimum of 60%
    Exam LevelFoundation, Intermediate and Final


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    11. ACET - Actuarial Common Admission Test

    Have you heard of Actuarial Science? Actuarial science studies how statistical, mathematical, and analytical skills are applied to commercial and business challenges. You must first take the university-level ACET entrance exam in this field. The Actuarial Common Admission Test (ACET) is a competitive entrance exam for students wishing to pursue a career in Actuarial Science. You will be able to acquire admission to top IAI (Actuarial Institutes of India) institutes after passing this exam. 

    12. NID Entrance Examination

    The NID Admission Committee conducts the National Institute of Design Examination to know the students' level of creativity in designing. The NID exam is also commonly known as NID Design Aptitude Test. The exam is divided into two parts- a studio test and a personal interview. 

    13. UGC NET - University Grants Commission - National Eligibility Test

    This is one of India's toughest tests. UGC NET exam pass requires studying the entire master's course material. It's not easy to study two-year postgraduate lectures in a short time. Limited seats complicate problems. A strong exam score allows candidates to become assistant instructors and junior researchers (JRF). Systematic study of two-year postgraduate lessons in less time can improve pass rates. 


    2. ISI - Indian Standards Institute

    ISI (Indian Statistical Institute) Admission Test is a national level. It is considered to be most toughest exam in India. This exam is held once a year, and it grants various students admission into courses like B.Maths, B.Stats, M.Stats, and M.Tech degree programs at ISI. Selected students get access into one of the most reputed Indian Statistical institutions.

    14. IES Exam - Indian Engineering Services Exam

    Indian Engineering Services Exam is one of the most popular exams of all time for students who want to make a career in the Engineering field. The Union Public Service Commission conducts this exam to recruit mechanical, civil, telecommunication and electronic engineers. Lakhs of students apply every year because several employment opportunities are made accessible to thousands of students. 

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    15. XAT - Xavier Aptitude Test 

    XLRI of Jamshedpur conducts the XAT exam for the students who want to clear MBA/ PGDM programs at Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI). The same institution today is known as the Xavier School of Management. Every year almost 90,000 students appear for the exam in order to get admission to XLRI Institute. The XAT entrance exam asks questions related to logical reasoning, verbal ability, decision making, data interpretation, quantitative ability, and general knowledge. 

    16. CDS - Combined Defence Exam

    Along with NDA, CDS (Combined Defence Exam) is also ranked among the most toughest exams in India. CDS and NDA are defence service exams in India, and getting selected in any of the two exams seems challenging. UPSC conducts this exam, and selected candidates are recruited from Indian Naval Services, Officers Training Academy, Indian Air Force Academy, and Indian Military Services.

    17. IBPS RRB - Institute of Banking Personnel Selection – Regional Rural Bank

    This is one of the most toughest banking exams in India. IBPS RRB stands for Institute of Banking Personnel Selection- Regional Rural Exam. This exam is given to individuals who want to work across banking sectors. Cracking the IBPS RRB exam is not easy. Therefore it ranks among the most toughest exams in India. 

    18. AFCAT - Air Force Common Admission Test

    AFCAT is a government exam for selection in the Indian Air Force. This exam is also considered one of the toughest exams in India. There are various branches in the Indian Air Force in which the students get selected after cracking the exam. AFCAT exam is conducted every year, twice in February and August.

    19. UPSC CAPF - Central Armed Police Force Exam

    CAPF stands for Central Armed Police Force. UPSC CAPF exam is conducted to recruit individuals for the Armed police forces. The actual job position after completing the exams is Assistant Commandant. All the detailed information is provided across the UPSC official portal page. 

    20. RBI Assistant Recruitment Examination - 

    As we all know, to be among the banking sectors, one must appear for a banking entrance exam which helps them get selected across various private, government and international banks. RBI holds an examination for the position of assistant. The clerk is the job title. Because of the large number of applications for this position, the exam becomes difficult to crack.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Toughest Exams In India

    Q.1 Which is the toughest exam in India?
    Ans: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is regarded as one of the toughest exams in India. It requires rigorous preparation and a comprehensive understanding of the topics to score well. The exam consists of three stages – the Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Interview. Each stage tests aspirants on their knowledge of the various subjects required for successful civil services.

    Q.2 Is CA the toughest exam in India?
    Ans: Although not as tough as UPSC, CA is still one of the toughest exams in India to crack. It requires extensive preparation and dedication, and many candidates put in countless hours of hard work to achieve success.

    Q.3 Why is UPSC the toughest exam in India?
    Ans: This exam requires years of preparation and dedication from candidates, who must be knowledgeable across a wide range of subjects and possess exceptional analytical skills. Applicants must also demonstrate their capacity for quick and creative thinking when faced with complex problems or unfamiliar scenarios. Such qualities are difficult to cultivate and demonstrate, making the UPSC the toughest exam in India.

    Q.4 Is NEET UG just as tough as UPSC?
    Ans: No, NEET UG is not as tough as UPSC. This is because UPSC consists of 3 stages( Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Interview), whereas NEET UG requires you to get the qualifying marks to get selected.


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