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Top 10 Toughest Exams in India – 2024

Top 10 Toughest Exams in India

India is known for some of the toughest exams in the world, but which is the toughest exam in India? There is an ongoing debate between UPSC CSE, JEE, and CLAT, each with a strong reputation.  These tests are important to assess the candidate’s future skills, knowledge, quantitative skills, and language skills.

Many faced these difficult tests in pursuit of higher education or professional employment. Among so many toughest exams in India, each exam has its unique challenges and rewards, making it the most competitive exam in India. Explore our Top 10 Toughest Exams in India and discover how much amount of dedication and hard work is required to pass.

Top 10 Toughest Exams in India

1. UPSC CSE (UPSC Civil Services Examination)

UPSC Civil Services Examination (UPSC CSE) – without a doubt is one of the toughest exams in India and also among the top 5 toughest exams in the world. It is a gateway to higher positions like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS), it is conducted in three levels/stages:  Prelims, Mains, and Interview Round.

Nearly 10-12 lakh candidates apply each year and the selection rate is under 1%, its in-depth and vast syllabus and focus on both current events and deep conceptual understanding make it the most difficult exam in India. The combination of first multiple choice papers, descriptive main papers, and personality tests underscores why the UPSC exam is so tough, consistently featuring on any list of India’s top exams.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOffline mode
PurposeRecruitment officers for the Indian government’s civil services – IAS, IFS, and IPS

2. IIT – JEE (Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Examination)

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is again considered one of the toughest exams in India, it is the most valuable opportunity for the top and best engineering colleges in India. The exam is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) which has two levels: JEE Main and JEE Advanced.

JEE Mains is conducted twice a year and is the first achievement for admission to NITs, IIITs, and other government institutes, while JEE Advanced is to get into IITs, IISc, and RGIPT. This India’s top exam consists of physics, chemistry, and math topics in the most difficult level making it one of the most difficult exams in India. Candidates who crack this exam also have the opportunity to qualify for Siemens scholarships, providing financial support for their engineering studies. 

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyTwice in a Year
Exam modeOnline – Computer-Based
PurposeAdmissions in top colleges in India

3. GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

In the list of toughest exams in India comes The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). This entrance examination test is all about the understanding of undergraduate subjects in engineering and sciences for admission into postgraduate programs.

The GATE committee conducts this across eight regions, it includes members from the National Coordinating Board, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and IISc. GATE is important for recruitment by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like Indian Oil, GAIL, and Hindustan Petroleum. The exam pattern has multiple-choice, multiple-select questions, or numerical answer types, with sections on General Aptitude and the candidate’s chosen subject, making it a top exam in India.

Exam Details
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOnline
PurposeAdmissions to the top colleges for higher studies

4. IIM CAT (Indian Institutes of Management Common Admission Test)

The Indian Institutes of Management Common Admission Test (IM CAT) is known as one of the toughest exams in India. The IIM CAT national-level exam is a golden opportunity for various valuable management programs, including the MBA.

The exam is scheduled for three hours, in which the question paper consists of the sections on Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability. For students with a minimum of 50% in their Bachelor’s degree and 45% for reserved categories are eligible for the exam, the CAT’s limited seats and strong competition confirm its place as one of the most competitive exams in India.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOnline
PurposeAdmissions to the top colleges for higher studies in management programs

5. NDA (National Defence Academy)

The National Defence Academy (NDA) and Naval Academy Examination is one of the toughest exams in India, which is held twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). This entrance exam is very important for candidates who are willing to join the Army, Navy, and Air Force wings of the NDA. The exam is to test your skills in writing, English, general knowledge, and mathematics, with a difficult pattern of question papers that includes a general ability test and a mathematics paper.

With 600 marks in the general ability section and 300 marks in mathematics. This exam is recognized as one of the most competitive exams in India, it now allows even women to join, and that decision was given by the Supreme Court in 2021. Being included on the list of India’s toughest exams shows the huge risks and intense competition that candidates face.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyTwice a year
Exam modeOffline
PurposeTo join the Navy, Army, and Air Force wings

6. CA (Chartered Accountant) – Toughest Exams in India

The Chartered Accountant (CA) exam which is conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), is also one of the toughest exams in India. This highly competitive exam has three difficult levels in India: CA Foundation, CA Intermediate, and CA Final. 

To gain this valuable position of CA, candidates must clear all three levels of the exam and become a member of ICAI. The CA Foundation, an important entrance exam, contains four papers and requires a minimum of 50% in class 12 to qualify. It is held twice a year, the CA exams contain multiple-choice and descriptive questions, demanding deep study and dedication. 

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyTwice a year
Exam modeOnline – Computer Based
PurposeTo become Chartered Accountants

7. NEET(National Eligibility cum Entrance Test)

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is considered one of the toughest exams in India and important for many focused medical and paramedical students. Conducted in offline mode every year, NEET is conducted for 200 minutes and includes 200 questions from Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, and Botany, with a total of 720 marks. This examination has no maximum age limit, but candidates must be 17 years of age.

This exam has replaced several other medical entrance exams, including the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT). With increasing competition and rising cut-off marks, NEET stands out as India’s top exam for admission to undergraduate courses like MBBS, BDS, AYUSH, and veterinary courses, making it the most competitive exam in India for medical candidates. 

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOffline
PurposeAdmissions to medical undergraduate programs

8. CLAT (Common Law Admission Test)

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a national-level entrance exam and one of the toughest exams in India is conducted to gain admission to undergraduate and postgraduate law programs at 24 National Law Universities. It is conducted annually by the Consortium of National Law Universities, this India top exam is held in offline mode and contains 150 questions with five sections: Logical Reasoning, Legal Aptitude, English, General Knowledge, and Maths.

Qualifying candidates can pursue their careers in law, judiciary, higher education, and civil services. With a minimum cut-off mark requirement and no maximum age limit for candidates, CLAT remains the toughest exam in India.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOffline – Pen and paper mode
PurposeAdmissions to undergraduate and postgraduate law colleges

9. UGC NET (UGC National Eligibility Test)

The UGC National Eligibility Test (UGC NET) stands tall as one of the toughest exams in India, administered by the National Testing Authority (NTA) under the University Grants Commission (UGC).  It is the eligibility criterion for the post of ‘Assistant Professor’ and for the posts of ‘Junior Research Fellowship and Assistant Professor’ in Indian Universities.

It is conducted twice a year, UGC NET aims to help candidates work as assistant professors or become junior researchers fellowships. Conducted twice a year, UGC NET aims to help aspirants work as assistant professors or become junior researchers. The second paper includes subject-specific questions. Qualifying requires a minimum score of 40%, while reserved candidates need at least 35%.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyTwice a year
Exam modeOnline – Computer Based
PurposeEligibility test for Lectures and Junior Research Fellowships.

10. NID (National Institute of Design Entrance)

The NID (National Institute of Design) Entrance Exam stands as one of the toughest exams in India, with its rigorous selection process and high competition. Conducted annually, it comprises two stages: DAT Prelims and DAT Mains, where candidates are shortlisted based on their performance in the preliminary exam.

Aspiring designers across India vie for a spot in NID’s prestigious undergraduate and postgraduate programs, with the exam serving as a gateway to these coveted courses. Applicants must meet age requirements and undergo counseling stages after the merit list is prepared from both prelims and mains scores.

ExamDetails
Exam LevelNational
Exam FrequencyAnnually
Exam modeOffline
PurposeAdmission to undergraduate and post-graduate design programs

Final Thoughts

To summarize, navigating some of India’s most difficult exams requires exceptional focus and determination. From the desired UPSC CSE to the challenging NID Entrance, each exam on this list showcases the nation’s most difficult academic landscape. Candidates aim to pass these difficult exams, they go on a journey that defines not only their ability to study but also their ability to endure in the face of hardship, cementing their place as India’s top exams.

About the author

Ramya V

Ramya. V a dedicated and talented writer started content writing in 2022. With over two years of professional experience in writing articles, blog posts, guest posts, and website content for SEO, she is now writing content for affiliate marketing. She will analyze the current trends and write content accordingly.

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