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Top 10 Toughest exam in India – 2024

India is renowned for its rigorous and highly competitive education system. The country hosts a myriad of examinations that are considered some of the toughest globally. These exams serve as gateways to prestigious institutions and lucrative career paths. Let’s dig into the top 10 toughest exam in India that stand as a testament to the academic prowess demanded by these evaluations.

Toughest exam in India

Top 10 Toughest exam in India

Here is the list of the Top 10 Toughest exam in India.

  1. UPSC Civil Services Exam
  2. IIT-JEE
  3. Chartered Accountant (CA)
  4. NEET UG
  5. AIIMS UG
  6. National Defence Academy (NDA)
  7. Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)
  8. Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)
  9. National Eligibility Test (NET)
  10. Indian Engineering Services (IES)

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

FieldDescription
Established1926
HeadquartersNew Delhi, India
Websitehttps://upsc.gov.in/
FunctionsConducts recruitment examinations for various civil services in India
ServicesIndian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and many more
Selection ProcessPrelims, Mains, and Personality Test
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
VacanciesApproximately 700-800 per year
Difficulty LevelHigh
CompetitionIntense
EligibilityIndian citizens
Educational QualificationGraduation from a recognized university
Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination, commonly referred to as the IAS Exam, is widely considered to be the toughest exam in India. It is a gateway to some of the most prestigious and sought-after careers in the country, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).

The vastness and complexity of the exam syllabus, coupled with the intense competition and unpredictable nature of the questions, make it a formidable challenge for even the brightest minds. Here are some of the key factors that contribute to the difficulty of the UPSC Civil Services Exam:

1. Extensive Syllabus: The exam covers a vast range of subjects, including history, geography, politics, economics, science, technology, current affairs, and more. This breadth of knowledge requires years of dedicated study and preparation.

2. Subjective Evaluation: Unlike many other standardized exams, the UPSC Civil Services Exam relies heavily on subjective evaluation. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the examiner’s discretion plays a significant role in determining a candidate’s score.

3. Unpredictable Question Patterns: The UPSC is notorious for its unpredictable question patterns. The questions can be direct, indirect, analytical, or application-based, making it difficult for candidates to anticipate the format and content of the exam.

4. High Competition: Millions of students compete for a limited number of vacancies yearly. This intense competition makes it even more challenging to succeed.

5. Need for Deep Understanding: The exam requires a deep understanding of complex concepts and issues, not just superficial knowledge. It tests a candidate’s ability to think critically, analyze information, and formulate well-structured arguments.

Despite its difficulty, the UPSC Civil Services Exam remains a dream for many young Indians. The prestige and the opportunity to serve the nation are powerful motivators for countless aspiring candidates each year.

Additional factors that contribute to the difficulty of the UPSC Civil Services Exam:

  • Limited study material: The official syllabus is vast and there is no single source of study material that covers all the topics.
  • Lack of guidance: Many candidates lack access to quality coaching and guidance, which can be crucial for success in the exam.
  • Psychological pressure: The immense pressure to succeed can be overwhelming for some candidates, leading to anxiety and stress.

Despite the challenges, the UPSC Civil Services Exam remains highly respected and coveted. It attracts some of the brightest minds in the country and provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of India.

IIT-JEE: Top 10 Toughest exam in India

FieldDescription
Established1960
Conducted byNational Testing Agency (NTA)
Exam TypeTwo-stage entrance exam
StagesJEE Main and JEE Advanced
PurposeAdmission to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
SubjectsPhysics, Chemistry, Mathematics
Exam FrequencyTwice a year (JEE Main) and once a year (JEE Advanced)
EligibilityIndian citizens
Educational Qualification10+2 or equivalent
Age Limit25 years
Difficulty LevelHigh
CompetitionIntense
Selection ProcessObjective and subjective questions
Time ConstraintsTime-bound
FocusApplication and analysis
Mental ToughnessRequired
Websitehttps://jeemain.nta.nic.in/
Top 10 Toughest exam in India

IIT-JEE is undoubtedly one of the most challenging exams, it is currently considered one of the Toughest exam in India in the country, after the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

The IIT-JEE is a two-stage entrance exam conducted for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). It is a gateway to a career in engineering and technology and attracts some of the brightest minds in India.

Here’s a breakdown of the factors contributing to its difficulty:

1. Extensive Syllabus: The syllabus covers a vast range of topics in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, requiring years of dedicated study and preparation.

2. High Competition: Millions of students compete for limited seats in the IITs, resulting in intense competition.

3. Objective and Subjective Questions: The exam includes both objective and subjective questions, requiring different test-taking strategies and skills.

4. Time Constraints: The exam is time-bound, making it crucial for candidates to manage their time effectively and answer questions quickly.

5. Focus on Application and Analysis: The exam focuses on testing the application of theoretical knowledge and the ability to analyze complex problems.

6. Mental Toughness: The high pressure and intense competition require candidates to be mentally strong and resilient to persevere through the rigorous preparation process.

However, it’s important to remember that difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths, weaknesses, and preparation level. While the UPSC Civil Services Exam may be considered tougher due to its emphasis on subjective evaluation and diverse subject areas, the IIT-JEE presents a unique challenge for students with a strong aptitude for science and mathematics.

Also read: Courses after 12th arts with high salary

Chartered Accountant (CA): Top 10 Toughest exam in India

FieldDescription
Official NameChartered Accountant (CA)
Conducting BodyInstitute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)
Exam TypeMulti-stage
StagesFoundation, Intermediate, Final
PurposeQualification for Chartered Accountant profession
SubjectsAccounting, Finance, Taxation, Law, Business Ethics
Qualification for the Chartered Accountant professionTwice a year (Foundation and Intermediate), Once a year (Final)
EligibilityIndian citizens
Educational Qualification10+2 or equivalent
Age LimitNo specific limit
Difficulty LevelHigh
CompetitionIntense
Selection ProcessObjective and subjective questions, Practical training
Time ConstraintsTime-bound
FocusTheoretical knowledge and practical skills
Websitehttps://www.icai.org/
Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The Chartered Accountant (CA) exam, conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), is widely considered one of the toughest exam in India.

While the difficulty of an exam is subjective and depends on individual strengths and weaknesses, the CA exam presents a unique set of challenges:

1. Multi-Stage and Rigorous Process:

  • Foundation Stage: Students need to pass the Foundation exam to enter the CA course.
  • Intermediate Stage: This stage involves passing two Intermediate exams and a 3-year practical training period under a practising CA.
  • Final Stage: The final hurdle is clearing the CA Final exam, which covers a vast range of accounting, finance, and taxation subjects.

2. Low Pass Rates:

The pass rates for each stage of the CA exam are notoriously low, averaging between 5-10%. This necessitates extensive preparation and dedication.

3. Extensive Syllabus and Diverse Subjects:

The CA syllabus covers a wide range of topics, including accounting principles, financial reporting, auditing, taxation, law, and business ethics. This requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of various subjects.

4. Time Constraints and Pressure:

The CA exam is time-bound, requiring candidates to manage their time effectively and answer questions quickly under pressure.

5. Emphasis on Practical Skills:

The CA course emphasizes practical skills in addition to theoretical knowledge. Candidates need to apply their knowledge to solve real-world accounting and business problems during the practical training period.

6. High Competition:

Millions of aspiring CAs compete for a limited number of opportunities, making the competition fierce.

7. Continuous Learning and Development:

The CA profession requires continuous learning and development to stay updated with the latest changes in accounting standards and regulations.

While the CA exam is challenging, it also offers rewarding career opportunities with attractive salaries and high job security.

NEET UG: Top 10 Toughest exam in India

FieldDescription
Full NameNational Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate)
Conducting BodyNational Testing Agency (NTA)
Exam TypeHigh, varies depending on the category
PurposeAdmission to MBBS/BDS courses in India
SubjectsPhysics, Chemistry, Biology
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
EligibilityIndian citizens
Educational Qualification10+2 or equivalent with PCB subjects
Age Limit17-25 years
Difficulty LevelHigh
CompetitionIntense
Selection ProcessObjective-type written exam
Time ConstraintsTime-bound
FocusConceptual understanding and application
Cut-off MarksHigh, varies depending on category
Websitehttps://neet.nta.nic.in/
Top 10 Toughest exam in India

Whether NEET UG is the toughest exam in India is a subject of debate. While it is undeniably one of the most challenging and competitive exams, some argue that other exams, such as the UPSC Civil Services Exam or the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), maybe even more difficult.

Here’s a breakdown of the factors contributing to the difficulty of NEET UG:

1. High Competition:

  • Millions of students compete for a limited number of seats in medical colleges throughout India.
  • This intense competition creates a lot of pressure on students to perform well.

2. Extensive Syllabus:

  • The NEET UG syllabus covers a vast range of topics in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
  • This requires a strong foundation in all three subjects and years of dedicated study.

3. Time Constraints:

  • The NEET UG exam is time-bound, which can be challenging for students who need more time to process information and answer questions.
  • Time management skills are crucial for success in this exam.

4. Objective-type Questions:

  • Unlike some other exams that include essay questions, NEET UG is entirely objective.
  • This format can be challenging for students who are not comfortable with multiple-choice questions.

5. High Cut-off Marks:

  • The cut-off marks for NEET UG are typically very high, meaning that even students who score well may not be guaranteed a seat in a medical college.

6. Mental Toughness:

  • Preparing for NEET UG requires a lot of mental toughness and resilience.
  • Students must be able to handle the pressure of competition, long hours of studying, and the possibility of not achieving their desired results.

However, it’s important to remember that difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. While NEET UG may be considered challenging by some, others may find it less difficult than other exams.

Top 10 Toughest exam in India

AIIMS UG: Top 10 Toughest exam in India

FieldDescription
Full NameAll India Institute of Medical Sciences Undergraduate Entrance Examination
Conducting BodyNational Testing Agency (NTA)
Exam TypeNational-level entrance exam
PurposeAdmission to MBBS courses at AIIMS institutions
SubjectsPhysics, Chemistry, Biology, General Knowledge
Exam FrequencyOnce a year
EligibilityIndian citizens
Educational Qualification10+2 or equivalent with PCB subjects
Age Limit17-25 years
Difficulty LevelHigh
CompetitionIntense
Selection ProcessObjective-type written exam
Time ConstraintsTime-bound
FocusConceptual understanding and application
Cut-off MarksVery high (99th percentile+)
Websitehttps://aiimsexams.ac.in/
Top 10 Toughest exam in India

Whether AIIMS UG is the toughest exam in India is a matter of debate. While it is undeniably challenging and competitive, other exams like the UPSC Civil Services Exam and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) can be equally demanding.

Here’s a breakdown of the factors contributing to the difficulty of AIIMS UG:

1. High Competition:

  • Hundreds of thousands of students compete for a limited number of seats in AIIMS institutions across India.
  • This intense competition creates significant pressure on students to perform at their absolute best.

2. Extensive and Challenging Syllabus:

  • The AIIMS UG syllabus covers a vast range of topics in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and General Knowledge.
  • This requires a strong foundation in all subjects and significant study commitment.

3. Time Constraints and Pressure:

  • The AIIMS UG exam is time-bound, with limited time allotted for each section.
  • Students need to manage their time effectively and answer questions quickly under pressure.

4. Unpredictable and Abstract Question Patterns:

  • Unlike some exams with predictable question formats, AIIMS UG questions are known for their unconventional and abstract nature.
  • This can be challenging for students who prefer standardized question patterns.

5. High Cut-off Marks:

  • The cut-off marks for AIIMS UG are consistently high, even exceeding the 99 percentile in some cases.
  • This means that even students with excellent scores may not be guaranteed a seat.

6. Mental Toughness and Resilience:

  • Preparing for AIIMS UG requires a high level of mental toughness and resilience.
  • Students must be able to handle the pressure of competition, long hours of studying, and the possibility of not achieving their desired results.

While AIIMS UG is undoubtedly a challenging exam, it’s crucial to remember that difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. What may be considered extremely difficult by one student might be manageable for another.

National Defence Academy (NDA): Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exam is known for its rigorous selection process and is considered one of the toughest exam in India due to various factors:

  1. Prestige and Scope: NDA is the gateway to join the Indian Armed Forces – the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It offers a prestigious career with immense opportunities for leadership and growth.
  2. Selection Process: The NDA exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) twice a year. It comprises a written exam followed by extensive interviews by the Services Selection Board (SSB).
  3. Written Exam: The written exam includes subjects such as Mathematics and the General Ability Test (GAT) covering English, General Knowledge, Physics, Chemistry, General Science, History, Geography, and Current Events. The questions are of a high standard and require both depth of knowledge and quick problem-solving skills.
  4. Physical and Medical Tests: Candidates who clear the written exam undergo a rigorous selection process that includes physical fitness tests and medical examinations. The physical standards for NDA are stringent, emphasizing overall fitness and mental agility.
  5. Competition: The competition for NDA is exceptionally high, given the limited number of vacancies and the large number of aspirants aspiring to join the armed forces.
  6. Training and Discipline: If selected, candidates undergo comprehensive training at the NDA, which focuses on academic, physical, and leadership development. The training period is rigorous and demands discipline, commitment, and a high level of adaptability.
  7. Career Prospects: Upon successful completion of training, candidates become officers in their respective services with promising career paths, opportunities for specialization, and leadership roles.

The comprehensive selection process, including a demanding written exam, SSB interviews, and stringent physical standards, makes the NDA exam highly challenging. Aspirants aiming for a career in the armed forces through NDA invest significant effort in preparing not only academically but also physically and mentally for the selection process and subsequent training.

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is a highly competitive examination conducted in India jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). It is considered one of the toughest exams in India, testing the comprehensive understanding of undergraduate subjects in engineering and science. While its difficulty is undeniably high, the “toughest” status is subjective and depends on individual strengths, weaknesses, and academic backgrounds.

Here’s a breakdown of the factors contributing to the difficulty of GATE:

1. Extensive and Challenging Syllabus:

The GATE syllabus covers a wide range of topics specific to various engineering disciplines. This requires a strong foundation in core engineering concepts and in-depth knowledge of specialized subjects.

2. High Competition:

Lakhs of engineering graduates compete for a limited number of seats in postgraduate programs and public sector jobs. This intense competition creates tremendous pressure on students to perform well.

3. Time Constraints and Pressure:

The GATE exam is time-bound, with limited time allotted for each section. Students need to manage their time effectively and answer questions quickly under pressure.

4. Unpredictable Question Patterns:

The GATE questions are known for their unpredictable and abstract nature, requiring a thorough understanding of concepts and the ability to apply them to novel situations.

5. High Cut-off Marks:

The cut-off marks for GATE are consistently high, demanding exceptional performance even from talented students.

6. Mental Toughness and Resilience:

Preparing for GATE requires a high level of mental toughness and resilience. Students must dedicate significant time and effort to studying, handle the pressure of competition, and remain motivated despite the challenges.

While GATE is undoubtedly a challenging exam, it’s essential to remember that difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. What might be considered extremely difficult for one student might be manageable for another.

Common Law Admission Test (CLAT): Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is indeed one of the toughest exam in India, specifically designed for admission into undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) programs in law offered at prestigious National Law Universities (NLUs) across the country. Here are some details:

  1. Exam Structure: CLAT primarily tests a candidate’s proficiency in areas such as English language, general knowledge, legal aptitude, logical reasoning, and mathematics (only for UG). The exam pattern includes multiple-choice questions (MCQs), with a total of 150 questions for the UG program and 120-150 questions for the PG program.
  2. Difficulty Level: The difficulty level of CLAT is considered high due to its competitive nature and the extensive syllabus. The exam assesses a candidate’s critical thinking, reasoning skills, and legal aptitude, making it challenging to crack without thorough preparation.
  3. Competition: Each year, thousands of students across the nation compete for a limited number of seats in NLUs, leading to fierce competition. The top ranks are often achieved by candidates who have dedicated extensive time and effort to prepare for the exam.
  4. Preparation: Successful candidates typically undertake rigorous preparation, which includes studying relevant subjects, solving mock tests, practising previous years’ question papers, and staying updated with current affairs.
  5. Syllabus: The syllabus for CLAT covers various subjects such as English including comprehension, general knowledge and current affairs, elementary mathematics (for UG), legal aptitude, and logical reasoning. The PG program focuses more on legal topics and case laws.
  6. Importance: Securing a good rank in CLAT is crucial for admission to some of the top NLUs in India, which are highly esteemed for their law programs and often pave the way for lucrative career opportunities in the legal field.

The significance of CLAT, coupled with its challenging nature and the competition involved, contributes to its reputation as one of the toughest exams in India. Success in CLAT demands not just knowledge but also strategic preparation and a focused approach.

National Eligibility Test (NET): Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The National Eligibility Test (NET) in India is considered one of the most challenging examinations due to its competitive nature and extensive syllabus. Here are some details about the exam:

  1. Purpose: The NET is conducted to determine the eligibility for Assistant Professor or Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) in Indian universities and colleges. It is a national-level exam organized by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  2. Subjects: The exam covers various subjects within the Humanities (including languages), Social Sciences, Forensic Science, Environmental Sciences, Computer Science, and Applications, among others. The syllabus varies according to the subject chosen by the candidate.
  3. Exam Structure: The exam pattern consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs). For most subjects, there are two papers – Paper I and Paper II. Paper I consists of general topics like teaching aptitude, reasoning ability, comprehension, and general awareness. Paper II covers subject-specific topics.
  4. Difficulty Level: The difficulty level of NET can be high due to the vast syllabus and the need for an in-depth understanding of the chosen subject. The questions often test the candidate’s conceptual knowledge, analytical skills, and application of theories.
  5. Competition: Thousands of candidates appear for the NET exam, aspiring to secure eligibility for Assistant Professorship or JRF. The competition is fierce, especially considering the limited number of available positions.
  6. Preparation: Successful candidates typically engage in rigorous preparation, which involves a thorough study of the subject, revising core concepts, solving previous years’ question papers, and staying updated with recent developments in their field.
  7. Importance: Qualifying NET opens up opportunities for teaching positions in universities and colleges as Assistant Professors. Additionally, those who qualify for JRF can pursue research in their respective fields with financial assistance provided by various agencies.

The NET exam’s significance, coupled with the vast syllabus and the need for comprehensive preparation, contributes to its reputation as a challenging examination in India. Candidates aiming to qualify for teaching or research positions through NET need to dedicate substantial time and effort to master their chosen subject and excel in the exam.

Indian Engineering Services (IES): Top 10 Toughest exam in India

The Indian Engineering Services (IES) exam is considered one of the toughest exam in India for engineering graduates. Here are some details about the IES exam:

  1. Conducted by UPSC: The IES exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which is responsible for selecting candidates for various civil services and government posts in India.
  2. Recruitment for Technical Posts: IES is conducted to recruit engineers for various technical and managerial posts in government departments and organizations like Indian Railways, Central Engineering Services, Central Water Engineering Service, Indian Ordnance Factories, etc.
  3. Four Stages: The IES exam comprises four stages – Preliminary Exam, Main Exam, Personality Test (Interview), and Medical Examination. Candidates need to clear each stage to proceed to the next.
  4. Preliminary Exam: The preliminary exam consists of objective-type questions covering general studies and engineering-specific topics. This stage acts as a screening test for the main exam.
  5. Main Exam: The main exam is subjective and covers engineering-specific subjects chosen by the candidate. This stage tests in-depth knowledge and understanding of the engineering discipline.
  6. Personality Test (Interview): Candidates who qualify for the main exam are called for a personality test or interview. This stage evaluates the candidate’s personality, communication skills, and suitability for the services.
  7. Difficulty Level: The IES exam is known for its challenging nature due to the comprehensive syllabus and the depth of understanding required in engineering subjects. The competition is fierce, and the exam demands both conceptual clarity and problem-solving skills.
  8. Preparation: Aspirants need to undergo extensive preparation, which includes a thorough understanding of engineering subjects, solving previous years’ question papers, regular practice, and staying updated with technological advancements in their field.
  9. Career Prospects: Clearing the IES exam opens avenues for candidates to work in various government departments and organizations in technical roles with excellent career prospects, job security, and opportunities for professional growth.

The IES exam’s significance, along with its challenging stages and the need for comprehensive engineering knowledge, contributes to its reputation as one of the toughest exams in India for engineering graduates. Aspirants dedicate significant time and effort to prepare for this examination to secure a coveted position in government services.

Ankit Singh
Ankit Singhhttps://www.arohanas.com/
Meet Ankit Singh, an avid education enthusiast and dedicated content creator at Arohana Rising Upwards. Ankit is passionate about exploring the fascinating world of education and sharing insights that inspire and inform.
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