Toughest Exam in India - The Complete List

March 6, 2023
toughest exam in india

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Entrance examinations are much more than a tool to gain admission to a college of choice. The period of preparing tests the student’s discipline, hard work, and dedication to a subject. One must also have the patience to achieve mastery over the test syllabus. School-level students have a wide choice of tests, some of India’s toughest exams.

Some of these examinations are description, objection, or even multiple choice questions. They are also held in either online or offline mode. With multiple stages of some entrance tests, it is essential to grab a solid knowledge of these tests before attempting them.

What are Entrance Exams?

Entrance examinations are written tests held for admission to undergraduate or postgraduate courses. There are also tests held for professional, doctorate degrees, and certain jobs. Typically, these exams are managed by an authority or an institute. This body of authority decides the paper pattern and difficulty and organizes the test across the country.

Entrance examinations are quite tough, and there is high competition. Often there are fewer seats for the number of applicants that attempt the test. Students are tested not only in a chosen subject area but also in general knowledge, numerical ability, data interpretation, English, and grammar.

India, in particular, has entrance tests for admission to Engineering, Medical, Law, Management, and Finance courses. The tests take place at the national, state, or university levels. Each test section has cut-offs and an overall cut-off to clear off. After qualifying for the test, there are other processes to go through.

List of Toughest Entrance Exams in India

Each candidate’s choice of entrance examination will change depending on the end goal. India has many entrance tests for courses and jobs with varying difficulty levels.

UPSC Civil Services Exam

Conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, the UPSC Civil Services Exam is one of the toughest exams in India. The annual examination selects candidates to fill administrative jobs in the central Government. There are three levels to the exam, Preliminary, Mains, and then an interview round. With lakhs of candidates taking it every year, it is probably the hardest exam in India. However, with enough preparation, it is not impossible to clear all the stages.

Conducted ByUnion Public Service Commission
UPSC Prelims 2022 Exam Date5th June 2022
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes UPSC Civil Services difficult?

UPSC is considered tough to clear is due to its vast syllabus. Candidates undergo months of intense preparation for the lengthy selection process. As soon as one level is over, there is another level, and then there is the personal interview round. Moreover, the number of candidates appearing for the examination adds to the competition.

Tips to Crack UPSC Civil Services
  • The best way to tackle the syllabus is to divide and complete each portion separately.
  • Prepare a timetable to cover the entire syllabus. Include time for revision and also practice tests.
  • Read newspapers daily to keep up to date with the latest news.
  • Improve writing and also spoken communication skills
  • Maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and get eight hours of sleep daily.

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IIT JEE is the qualifying examination for admission into undergraduate Engineering courses. Counted among the toughest exams in India, IIT JEE takes place in two phases, Mains and then Advanced. While some colleges admit students with the JEE Main score, top institutes like IIT require the JEE Advanced score. This is not only a tough examination but also has high competition.

Conducted ByNational Testing Agency
IIT JEE 2022 Exam Date23rd June to 29th June 2022 (Session 1) 25th July onwards (Session 2)
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes IIT JEE difficult?

IIT JEE could be among the top 10 toughest exams in India. Not only is the syllabus wide, but the questions are also application based. There are three subjects and also include material studied over four years. Competition is severe, and only a few students achieve qualifying marks.

Tips to Crack IIT JEE
  • Look over the syllabus and get an understanding of the paper pattern.
  • Clear up the basics first before commencing to the advanced topics.
  • Do not read multiple books on one subject.
  • Keep revising regularly.
  • Seek help from a teacher or mentor for doubts.
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Chartered Accountant (CA)

While most examinations are done in a couple of months, some take years. Chartered Accountant course examinations are not only the toughest exam in India but also take multiple attempts to clear in some cases. Conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, there are three levels to clear, Foundation, IPCC, and Final. There is even a mandatory article ship to complete before earning the title of CA.

Conducted ByInstitute of Chartered Accountants of India
Chartered Accountant 2022 Exam Date24th to 30th June 2022 (Foundation) 15th May to 30th May 2022 (Intermediate) 14th May to 29th May 2022 (Final)
Official Website
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes Chartered Accountants difficult?

The deciding factor for making Chartered Accountants a difficult exam is, in particular, its multiple exams with tough qualifying marks. The syllabus differs for each level; one must master several finance subjects simultaneously. The success rate for passing CA courses is extremely low, and individuals take years to finish.

You can also read our blog on Salary of a Chartered Accountant

Tips to Crack Chartered Accountant
  • Learn to manage time to cover all the subjects.
  • Study daily and prepare a schedule to do so.
  • Pay attention to not only theory but also practical questions.
  • Learn from mistakes but also do not fear failure.
  • Consistency will provide success in the case of Chartered Accountants.


In the case of Science, particularly Medical Science, NEET UG is the most difficult exam in India. Previously known as the All India Medical Test, NEET UG is taken by aspiring doctors at the undergraduate level. Under the supervision of the National Testing Agency, NEET UG covers questions from Biology, Physics, and also Chemistry. Only students who qualify for NEET UG can be admitted to MBBS or BDS courses.

Conducted ByNational Testing Agency
NEET UG 2022 Exam Date17th July 2022
Official Website
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes NEET UG difficult?

NEET UG is of the toughest exam in India. There are three subjects to cover, and there is a lot of pressure to perform well. For the year 2022, over 18 lakh candidates took the exam, pushing the bar of competition high. This is one exam that requires candidates to be thorough with the syllabus as the difficulty level changes every year.1

Tips to Crack NEET UG
  • Set deadlines to cover topics and add extra time to the harder lessons.
  • For NEET UG, in particular, revise from the school-level books.
  • Check progress by going over mistakes made.
  • Practice using past year’s papers.
  • Prepare a strategy to attempt the questions as there is also negative marking.


AIIMS UG (Medical entrance examination) is also considered one of the toughest exams in India. This exam is held by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for admission to its different campuses. Over three hours, candidates are tested on their knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. After completing the written test, counseling takes place for admission.

Conducted ByAll India Institute of Medical Sciences
AIIMS UG 2022 Exam DateSeptember 2022 (Tentative)
Official Website
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes AIIMS UG difficult?

AIIMS UG is, in particular, hard because it has more subjects as compared to other Medical entrance tests. Moreover, there are also sections on general knowledge, logical reasoning and aptitude. Seats are also limited at AIIMS colleges, and the examination does not have a set syllabus.

Tips to Crack
  • Start as early as possible for preparation.
  • Solve all previous papers and understand the paper pattern and marking.
  • Relying on school-level books is the best choice for AIIMS UG.
  • Read the newspaper daily for the GK section.
  • Take time to destress and relax the mind.

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

Among the list of the toughest exam in India at the post-graduate level, GATE holds a prominent position. All the IITs and other Engineering colleges in India accept the GATE score for admission to master’s in Engineering. The Indian Institute of Science and IITs organize the exam each year. The written paper judges not only a candidate’s technical knowledge but also their general knowledge.

Conducted ByIISc and IITs
GATE 2022 Exam Date4th February to 12th February 2023
Official Website
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes GATE difficult?

GATE is tough specifically because it is an application-based paper. It also covers material learned over four years of undergraduate education. Additionally, the GATE score is also accepted for certain doctorate degree admissions and job selection making it tougher than most exams. Unlike other engineering exams, one must also clear a personal interview round beside the GATE score.

Tips to Crack GATE
  • Clear up the fundamental concepts and then proceed further.
  • Understand the paper pattern, the sections and also the marking in each. After that, prepare a strategy to attempt it.
  • Allot time for each subject to make sure the whole syllabus is covered.
  • Attempt mock papers at regular intervals.
  • Prepare organized notes to revise regularly.

National Defence Academy (NDA)

Held by the UPSC, the NDA examination takes place for recruitment to the Army, Naval, and Airforce. Not only is it the toughest exam in India in terms of the written paper, but also quite prestigious. One unique feature of this examination is that following the written paper, medical and physical tests are held. It takes place twice a year, and one must clear all stages of the selection process.

Conducted ByUnion Public Service Commission
NDA 2022 Exam Date4th September 2022
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes NDA difficult?

If one wonders if NDA is a tough exam, the answer is quite tough. Since it is a test for admission to the armed forces, candidates are also tested for their physical abilities. UPSC also requires their candidates to be mentally strong to survive the training process. Like with other tests, NDA also witnesses thousands of applicants every year.

Tips to Crack NDA
  • Read all the details of the NDA examination.
  • Take regular online and offline mock examinations.
  • Stick to one study material only to avoid confusion.
  • A study plan can also be prepared.
  • Exercise regularly with special attention to diet to prepare for the physical tests.

Common-Law Admission Test (CLAT)

The CLAT or Common Law Admission Test is one of the toughest exams in India for law admission. Not only LLB but also LLM students require to take the CLAT. In the online mode, the CLAT also takes place once a year. Both national and also private law universities accept the CLAT score. The examination includes knowledge of the law, logical reasoning, general awareness, verbal ability, and quantitative techniques.

Conducted ByCLAT Consortium
CLAT 2022 Exam Date19th June 2022
Official Website
Exam TypeUnder Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes CLAT difficult?

What makes CLAT among India’s toughest exams is not the syllabus but in terms of length. CLAT is quite lengthy, with multiple sections to be completed in a short period of time. The limited number of seats and the volume of applications make CLAT a difficult test to pass.

Tips to Crack CLAT
  • The key to CLAT success is starting early.
  • Practice mock papers and then go over the mistakes made.
  • Develop a strategy for each section to attempt them quickly.
  • Have a daily routine to study for a few hours.
  • Get doubts cleared from online resources or a professor.


Another top entrance exam in India is the UGC NET. This is another one of the toughest exams in India that takes place for hiring for a Junior Research Fellowship. UGC NET also hires Assistant Professors. The NTA, in particular, is for students who have done their master’s degree or are pursuing it. Candidates attempt two papers, one subject-specific and the other containing questions on research, comprehension, etc.


Conducted ByNational Testing Agency
UGC NET 2022 Exam Date9th July to 14th August 2022
Official Website
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes UGC NET difficult?

The toughest part of UGC NET is the sheer number of applicants that take it every year. Out of them, in truth, only a few make it through to the end. The common paper, whose difficulty level varies yearly, makes the UGC NET harder. The subject-specific is also hard but with some preparation is easy to pass.

Tips to Crack UGC NET
  • Take the time to prepare proper notes that will also help with revision.
  • Use the previous year’s paper to get used to solving the paper in exam settings.
  • Candidates must, importantly, keep an eye on the timeline till the exam to not run out of time.
  • Reading tips and pointers from past toppers is a good way to gain confidence and inspiration.
  • Understand mistakes made and also pay attention to the parts of the syllabus that need more attention.


Among all the Science and Law toughest exams in India, there is also a business entrance test, XAT. The test, primarily, is for admission to the XLRI but is also accepted at associated colleges. XAT enables candidates to take admission to MBA and also PGDM degrees. The paper has several sections, including verbal and local ability and quantitative ability. There are sections on data interpretation, general knowledge, and decision-making.

Conducted ByXavier School of Management
XAT 2022 Exam Date2nd January 2022
Official Website
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes XAT difficult?

XAT is a lengthy paper that makes it difficult. Candidates who take XAT also find it particularly hard to manage time to complete each section. There are also sectional and overall cut-offs to meet. Additionally, the difficulty level of XAT changes every year. Another factor is the negative marking for each wrong answer.

Tips to Crack XAT
  • Analyze last year’s paper and also its pattern.
  • Reading daily and in volumes is the key to nailing the language and grammar section.
  • Some sections are monotonous, and candidates must be determined to attempt a few of them every day.
  • Prepare a complete timetable till the exam date.
  • Take mocks right before the exam date comes about.


Like XAT, Symbiosis International University also holds a national-level entrance test, SNAP. Unlike other management entrance tests, the SNAP test is also accepted for M.Sc courses. SNAP is designed to test a candidate’s general knowledge, logical reasoning, data interpretation etc. SNAP test takers who qualify for the written test also sit for a personal interview and a group discussion.

Conducted BySymbiosis International University
SNAP 2022 Exam Date10th December to 23rd December 2022
Official Website
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes SNAP difficult?

SNAP might not be the toughest exam in India, but it is moderately difficult because of the syllabus. With the time and effort taken to revise, SNAP is easy to pass. The number of questions in the whole test is quite a lot, while the time allotted for each section is less.

Tips to Crack SNAP
  • There are a lot of mock tests. However, take care to attempt only the genuine ones.
  • Read through any recent changes made to the examination pattern.
  • Understand the weak points in each section and allot more time to them.
  • Take note not to mark wrong answers to avoid negative markings.
  • Learn time management to cover all the sections on time.


Undoubtedly the hardest exam in India for management institutes is CAT. CAT is the first choice for entrance tests when applying for postgraduate business degrees. The IIMs hold the examination on a rotational basis. The national level examination is also attempted by lakhs of students every year. Students attempt verbal ability, logical reasoning, and data interpretation.

Conducted ByIIMs
CAT 2022 Exam Date27th November 2022
Official Website
Exam TypePost Graduate
Exam LevelAll India Level

What makes CAT difficult?

CAT is difficult in terms of the concentrated long hours to prepare for the test. The syllabus is not hard to understand and also master. However, one must have the basics clear to clear up the cut-offs. It is, importantly, worth remembering that there is negative marking, and due to the number of test takers, the percentile is higher.

Tips to Crack CAT
  • Have a strategy to attempt the harder sections.
  • Attempt the mock papers to gain confidence in the actual paper.
  • Connect with other test takers for tips and tricks.
  • Improve reading speed for the reading comprehension section.
  • Read newspapers daily to keep up to date with the latest affairs.

Choosing the Right Toughest Exam in India

India has several examinations for each course and degree. Choosing between them largely depends on whether the candidate wants to study Medical Science, Law, or Management. However, a little research will easily make the process of choosing between the toughest exams in India easy.

  • Prepare a shortlist for the examinations and colleges depending on the degree one is aiming to gain admission to.
  • Analyze each examination on the list. Understand the pattern, difficulty, marking, and past papers.
  • Look for the cut-off marks in the previous year.
  • Consider the financial aspect of the written tests. Additionally, consider the course fee the test taker would have to pay.
  • Always attempt more than one or two examinations to have backups.

Entrance examinations are a particularly tough and stressful part of a student’s life. In India, choosing the right exam and performing well means getting into a good college. This then means a successful career path. Indian students can choose exams at the national, state and university levels. Each of them is quite tough but not impossible to pass with some time and effort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 Which is the toughest exam in India?

Ans. Answering which entrance examinations are difficult would, in truth, depend on the individual attempting the paper. Not only will the aptitude of the candidate matter, but also the preparation. However, per student reviews, some of the toughest exams in India are UPSC, IIT JEE, GATE, NEET UG, AIIMS UG, XAT, NDA, etc.

Q.2 Is CA the toughest exam in India?

Ans. It would be wrong to say that CA is the toughest exam in India. However, it is one of the most difficult in Commerce and Finance. It is one professional course that has a very low passing rate. Not only does it take a lot of preparation, but one must have mastery over many subjects.

Q.3 Which is the toughest exam for medical aspirants?

Ans. The toughest and most popular entrance examination for medical aspirants is NEET UG. It is the most competitive, and many people attempt the examination annually. This is followed by AIIMS UG, the undergraduate medical science admission test for AIIMS college.

Q.4 Which are the toughest exams for engineers?

Ans. Engineers in India primarily take the IIT JEE. It is a two-parter examination, Main and Advanced. All major engineering colleges, including the IITs, require a significant rank in the IIT JEE. This is an undergraduate examination, and its postgraduate counterpart is the GATE.

Q.5 Which are the top 5 toughest exams in India?

Ans. In no particular order, some of the toughest exams in India are UPSC, IIT JEE, NEET UG, AIIMS UG, CAT, XAT, SNAP, and NDA.

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