Top 10 Toughest Exams in India [2024 Updated]

In the Indian education system, exams play an important role in measuring the knowledge, aptitude, skill, and mental stability of candidates. Exams are usually conducted orally, on the computer, on paper, or through some specific tests to evaluate the skills of students. Those who have completed their 12th class or graduation usually get confused about their career. In this case, appearing in the entrance exams is an excellent choice for students to get their dream jobs.

Exams are usually challenging or competitive, no matter in which field you are pursuing your career. However, exams are important because, at every stage of our life, we need to clear some exams to get to the next level.

In India, many students appear for different exams in different fields, but only some of them crack these difficult exams and get selected for the respective course or job. This is why many people think that these exams are hard to crack. But the fact is that it is not impossible to clear these exams, and you can do it by putting in some extra effort. Also, there are many success stories of candidates who have cracked the exams that you can follow.

Toughest Exams in India – Most Difficult

In most cases, students get confused by thinking about what to do after 12th and fail to achieve their career goals. This is where students need to be serious and do what they are passionate about. In this article, we are going to discuss the top 10 toughest exams in India in different sectors. One can appear in any of these exams after class 12th or graduation. You can have a look at these exams and decide which exam you need to appear for your career goal.

India's Toughest Exam

1. UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Exam

The UPSC or Union Public Service Commission conducts the UPSC Civil Service Exam every year for IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service), and IFS (Indian Foreign Service) posts. The exam is conducted through three stages the first test is the preliminary test, the second one is the main exam, and the third one is the interview round. One needs to clear all these three stages to become an IPS, IAS, or IFS.

The preliminary test has two papers, each of which is two hours long. This exam includes questions from different subjects like general science, general knowledge, Indian & world geography, Indian politics, and Indian history & Indian national movement. The main exam or the second stage has a total of 9 papers, out of which seven are considered for the merit list.

The candidates must have a graduate degree from a recognized university to be eligible for this exam. The pass rate of this exam is very low in the country.

2. IIT JEE (Joint Entrance Exam):

The JEE or Joint Entrance Exam is conducted to grant admission of students to IIT colleges in the country. It is one of the hardest exams in the country, and the exam is divided into two parts, one is JEE Main, and the other one is JEE Advanced. Students will need to clear the JEE Main exam first, and then they can opt for the JEE Advanced exam. After clearing the JEE Advanced exam, students can get admission to different undergraduate programs in engineering in reputed colleges of the country.

Though the success rate of this exam is very low, many students have a dream of clearing this exam to study in top engineering colleges across the country. Every year around 10 to 14 lakh students appear for the JEE Main exam, but only 2 lakh students get a chance to appear in the JEE Advanced exam. Moreover, only 10,000 to 11,000 students get a chance to study in top colleges in the country after the completion of the JEE Advanced exam.

Students can appear for this exam after completing their 12th standard. The JEE exam includes questions from physics, chemistry, and mathematics subjects. Each paper of the JEE exam is consists of 120 marks, and one should score at least 60 marks on each paper to crack this exam. Both JEE Main and JEE Advanced exams are usually conducted in April and May every year.

3. Chartered Accountant (CA)

Chartered Accountant is one career option where salary packages are being offered beyond your expectations but its study is as difficult. It is considered to be the most difficult and best career path for accounts and business students in India. The course requires dedication, hard work and focus cracking the examination and modelled. Moreover, it depends on applicants’ preparation and knowledge whether they succeed or not. Some students can crack the exam on the first attempt, while some take three to four years. The CA course is vast so that it requires a lot of dedication, intelligence and concept clearance.

4. CAT (Common Entrance Test)

Common Entrance Test is conducted by IIM colleges in the country to select candidates for management and business courses. Candidates who want to make a career in the field of management and business can appear for this exam. The colleges that offer an MBA course consider the CAT exam results of students.

A bachelor’s degree with 50% marks is a must to appear for the CAT exam. Also, those who are in the final year of their bachelor’s degree are eligible for this exam.

This exam contains a total of 100 questions with 300 marks and is conducted in three sections. The CAT exam has negative marking which deducts 1 mark for each wrong answer. This exam lasts for duration of three hours. The CAT exam includes questions from reasoning, verbal ability, quantitative aptitude, and data interpretation.

5. GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

This exam is similar to JEE exam, and it is conducted to grant admission for IIT and IIS (Indian Institute of Science) colleges. The GATE exam is conducted for the postgraduate courses, while the JEE exam is for the undergraduate courses. The scores obtained in the GATE exam are valid up to three years from the result announcement date.

Students who have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a master’s degree in science, computer applications, mathematics, or statistics are eligible for the gate exam. Also, those who are in the final year of their respective degree program are eligible to appear in the GATE exam.

This exam is conducted for a duration of three hours and has a total of 65 questions. It is a total 100 marks paper that includes questions from engineering mathematics, general aptitude, and other engineering subjects. The GATE exam also has negative marking. For each wrong answer, it deducts 1/3 marks from 1-mark MCQs and 2/3 marks from 2-mark MCQs.

6. NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test)

The National Eligibility & Entrance Test is ideal for candidates who want to study medical courses. This entrance exam is conducted by the NTA or National Testing Agency to offer admission to students for MBBS and BDS courses. This course enables the candidates to study in top medical colleges in the country. This exam is considered one of the toughest exams in India in the same field.

The candidates should have passed the 12th class with a minimum of 50% marks to be eligible for this exam. Moreover, the candidates should have studied the 12th class in biology, physics, and chemistry. The age requirements for the NEET exam are 17 years to 25 years.

Every year only 1 lakh students get admission to medical colleges through this exam out of 10 lakh students. From this pass rate, you can have an idea about how tough the NEET exam is.

7. AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences)

The AIIMS exam is conducted to give admission to the AIIMs campuses. If you want to study in the AIIMS campuses, then you will need to appear for this exam.  This exam is similar to the NEET exam, but the NEET exam allows students to get admission to different medical colleges in India.

This is a computer-based exam and includes topics like chemistry, general knowledge, physics, and biology. The AIIMS exam usually contains 200 questions from all these subjects. Most students in India have a dream of getting a medical degree from AIIMS, because of which more than 1 lakh students appear for this exam every year.

8. CLAT (Common Law Admission Test)

Candidates who are looking to make their careers in the law field can opt for the common law admission test. Those who crack the CLAT exam can get admission to LLM, BA LLB, B.COM LLB, BSc LLB, and BSW LLB courses. The exam helps students to study in the top law colleges of India. It is an offline exam and lasts for a duration of two hours.

The CLAT exam includes questions from general knowledge, English, reading comprehension, current affairs, quantitative techniques, and logical reasoning. The exam also has a negative marking that deducts 0.25 marks for each wrong answer. There is no age limit for the CLAT exam, and one should have at least 40% marks in the 12th standard to be eligible for this exam.

9. National Defense Academy Exam (NDA)

how to join nda

Candidates who want to serve the nation by joining the army, navy, or air force can opt for the NDA exam. This exam is conducted by Union Public Service Commission to select candidates for National Defense Services. To crack this exam, one needs to be physically and mentally strong. This exam includes an intelligence test, psychological aptitude test, written test, personality test, and personal interview. To become an NDA officer, one must clear all these stages of the exam.

This exam is conducted in offline mode and lasts for a duration of 5 hours. The NDA exam also has negative marking and deducts 0.33% for each wrong answer.  One must have completed the 12th standard with physics and mathematics subjects to apply for the NDA exam. This entrance exam includes questions from general knowledge, mathematics, and English. After clearing this test, one can become a Navy Officer, Army Officer, or Indian Air Force Pilot.

10. UGC – NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test)

The UGC NET is a national-level exam conducted by National Testing Agency. This entrance exam is ideal for those who want to become a lecturer. This exam is one of the toughest exams in the country, so some candidates feel it very hard to clear this exam even with four to five attempts.

In order to apply for this entrance exam, one must have a postgraduate degree. Also, those who are in the final year of their postgraduate can apply for this exam. The candidates should have scored 55% marks in their postgraduate level to be eligible for this exam. The minimum age requirement for this exam is 28 years.

This exam has a total of two papers. The first paper has 50 questions with 100 marks and lasts for a duration of one hour. The second paper duration is 2 hours, and it has a total of 100 questions where each question carries 2 marks. The questions included in this exam are from general awareness, reasoning, comprehension, and reasoning general aptitude.

11. National Institute of Design (NID) Entrance Exam

This entrance test is conducted by the NID admission committee to check the creativity level of the candidates in the field of design. After clearing this exam, the candidates can get admission to different courses like bachelor of design, graduate diploma program in design, and master of design.

To apply for this exam, students should have passed their 12th standard in any discipline. The exam tests communication skills, creativity, general mental ability, design skills, animation, and other skills related to this course.

Many exams are there in India conducted to give admission to candidates to different courses and jobs. If you are looking to pursue a rewarding career in any field, then you should have an idea of the relevant exam and prepare for it. The exams listed above are the most difficult to crack, and one needs to put extra effort into cracking any of these exams.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is GATE and IIT JEE the same? 

No, not exactly. But both of them are conducted to grant admission to the Indian Institute of technology and the Indian Institute of Sciences. The GATE exam is conducted for postgraduate courses, on the other hand, JEE is for undergraduate courses.

  1. What are the eligibility criteria for NEET?  

NEET (National Eligibility & entrance test)is all India exam conducted for candidates who want to pursue medicals. The first and foremost eligibility criteria are that the candidate should have passed 12th std with a minimum of 50% marks. Moreover, he/she should have Biology, Physics, and Chemistry as subjects in 12th.

  1. How is NEET different from the AIIMS exam? 

NEET allows students to get admission in different top medical colleges whereas the AIIMS entrance exam is conducted to give admission to AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences) campuses.

  1. How many seats are there in IITs?

As of 2020, the total number of BTech seats in IIT was 11,289.

  1. How many attempts are there in UPSC(Union Public Service Commission)? 

The attempts in UPSC are distinguished as per the category. General and EWS (economically weaker section) are allowed to give 6 attempts till 32 years of age, OBC can give 9 attempts till 35 years of age, SC/ST can give unlimited attempts till 37 years of age. Defense Services Personnel and Persons with benchmark disability can give 9 attempts till 35 years of age.

  1. What are the eligibility criteria for Common Entrance Test (CAT)?

The candidate should have a bachelor’s degree with at least 50% of the marks to appear for this exam. Moreover, the students in their final year can also sit for the entrance test.

  1. What is the age limit for National Defence Academy Exam? 

The minimum age should be 16 years and a maximum of 19 years.

  1. How many seats are there in National Defence Academy? 

As per fresh data of 2021, there are 370 seats in the National Defence Academy out of which 208 for the army, 42 for the Navy, and 120 for the Air force. There are 30 additional seats of Naval Academy.

  1. Can undergraduates apply for the NET exam? 

No, only candidates who have completed post-graduation can seat for UGC-NET. The students in the last year of post-graduation can also sit for the exams.

  1. What is the syllabus for the NID (National Institute of Design) entrance exam? 

The question paper has both objective and subjective sections. The syllabus for DAT prelims is design theory, graphic, and pictograms, innovation in design, theme development, principles of composition, exercise in imagination, drawing fundamentals, etc. The syllabus for DAT mains is body language, doodling, creative thinking, model making, audio-visual activities, and material manipulation.

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