Top 10 Toughest Exams in India

Toughest Exams in India

Exams are a significant part of our education. Besides testing the ability of the student, exams are important in instilling core skills like discipline, time management, hard work and patience. Whether applying for a university to study abroad or for a job, exams are the basic criteria for the selection of the candidates. Amongst the toughest exams in the world, there are many contenders from India which are known for their rigorous pattern and the level of study they demand. Some exams are descriptive while others are multiple-choice based but in any case, without a strategic study plan, qualifying an exam can be challenging and sometimes can cause disappointment. In this blog, we will cover the top 10 toughest exams in India spread across varied fields of study and disciplines that you must know about!

Quick Read: How to Prepare for Competitive Exams?

Top 10 Toughest Exams in India

Depending on the purpose of the exam, they vary greatly. But these are some of the toughest exams in India: 

  1. UPSC Civil Services Exam
  2. IIT- JEE
  3. Chartered Accountant (CA)
  4. NEET UG
  6. Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)
  7. National Defence Academy (NDA)
  8. Common-Law Admission Test (CLAT)
  9. UGC NET
  10. National Institute of Design Entrance Exam
Top 10 Toughest Exams in India
Top 10 Toughest Exams in India

UPSC Civil Services Exam

Probably the most prestigious, the UPSC Civil Services Exams are conducted to recruit candidates for top administrative positions in the Central Government of India. The exam encompasses various services like IAS, IPS and IFS. The three-tier exam consisting of Preliminary Exam, Main Exam and the Interview or personality test demands a great level of seriousness, dedication and hard work. The UPSC syllabus is extraordinarily vast, encompassing the diverse range of subjects which makes it one of the toughest exams in India. 

Why is UPSC one of the toughest exams in India?
It is one of the hardest exams because of the number of candidates that appear for the exam (Over 10 lakh candidates appear for the UPSC Prelims every year) and the sheer volume of the syllabus. The entire selection process of UPSC exam is extremely rigorous, it contains different rounds such as Prelims, Mains and Interview. 

UPSC Prelims 2021 Exam Date: 27th July 2021


The Joint Entrance Exam to screen the students for the various engineering courses at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The exam is conducted in two stages which includes IIT-JEE Mains and IIT-JEE Advanced. For the admissions in prestigious IITs, a huge number of students appear in the exams out of which only a few are selected to study in the institutions. The complex syllabus and hard competition make it one of the toughest exams in India!

Why is IIT JEE one of the toughest exams in India?
IIT JEE is considered one of the hardest exams because the syllabus is endless and the questions that appear in the exam are application-based and meant to challenge the candidate’s proficiency in the main subjects. Every year, over 6. 35 lakh candidates appeared for the exam and only the top 2.50 lakh qualified for JEE Advanced.

IIT JEE Mains 2021 Exam Date: 27th April 2021

Also Read: How to Prepare for JEE Mains?

Chartered Accountant (CA)

Conducted by ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India), the multi-tier exams for the CA course has a rigorous pattern. Qualifying the exam can guarantee a successful career with a lucrative salary but that comes with a great amount of hard work. The exam comprises 3 stages which include the Common Proficiency Test (CPT), Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and CA Final Examination. To know more about the exam and the job profile, read our detailed blog on how to become a Chartered Accountant.

Why is CA one of the toughest exams in India? CA aspirants must clear all the levels such as Common Proficiency Test (CPT), Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and CA Final Examination in order to become a CA. These levels are extremely tough to crack and require extensive planning and hard work. 

CA CPT 2021 Exam Date: June 2021


In order to get admission to medical schools in India, the NEET exam is mandatory. A premedical test administered by National Testing Agency (NTA) is conducted every year to select the candidates for the MBBS, BDS and other courses in top medical schools except AIIMS which has its own exam to offer admissions. The exam is for the medical students who have qualified for their 12th class examinations. With the rising competition, NEET exam has become a prominent name in the list of toughest exams in India.

Why is NEET UG one of the toughest exams in India?
NEET UG is considered one of the hardest, most competitive exams in India. A total of 15 lakh candidates registered for NEET-UG and over 17 lakh candidates are expected to register this year 2021. This exam is hard because the syllabus is huge and students must start preparing for the exam during their 12th if they want to crack it.

NEET 2021 Exam Date: 1st August 2021


Organised by All India Institute of Medical Sciences, AIIMS UG is conducted to select candidates for MBBS degrees offered at the seven campuses of AIIMS. Being a renowned and choicest medical institution in the country, AIIMS is a dream of every medical aspirant and thus attracts a multitude of applications every year. As one of the toughest exams in India, it is carried out for a limited number of seats around 1205 and designed on a higher difficulty level.

Why is AIIMS UG one of the toughest exams in India?
AIIMS UG is considered tough because the number of applicants is very high while the number of seats offered by the organising body is limited. Every year, the difficulty level of the questions is increased to ensure that only the most qualified candidates make the cutoff. 

Note: For the year 2020, AIIMS has decided to put away with the AIIMS UG exam and NEET will be conducted as the common exam for admissions into MBBS degrees at AIIMS.

Know All About Medical Entrance Exams

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

The GATE exam is conducted to facilitate admissions for postgraduate engineering courses in IITs. The exam is conducted by the Indian Institute of Science. Considered one of the toughest exams in India, GATE syllabus comprises of the concepts taught during the 4 years of the undergraduate degree. It is organised as an online exam and evaluates test-takers on two parameters, i.e. General Aptitude and knowledge of Technical and Engineering Mathematics.

Why is GATE one of the toughest exams in India?
GATE is considered extremely competitive because a huge number of candidates give this exam annually and the seats available are limited, for instance, 7.11 lakh candidates appeared for the GATE exam 2021 and only 1.26 lakh candidates qualified for the exam. It tests the candidate’s knowledge of the B.Tech/B.E curriculum.

GATE 2021 Exam Date: 6th to 14th February 2021

National Defence Academy (NDA)

The NDA exam is conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB) for the recruitment of the candidates to the Army, Naval and Airforce. The exam is conducted twice a year to screen out the best candidates for the countries most prestigious defence academy. The NDA exam pattern involves a written test followed by the SSB interview which further has a list of outdoor activities to evaluate the on-ground performance skills of the candidate. It is mandatory for the students to clear all the stages of the examination to qualify for the admission in NDA.

Why is NDA one of the toughest exams in India?
NDA is a tough exam because the candidates have to qualify for a written exam with a vast syllabus as well as a psychological aptitude test and an intelligence test. Candidates need to be physically fit to be considered for final admission.  

NDA 2021 Exam Date: 18th April 2021

Common-Law Admission Test (CLAT)

Common-Law Admission Test (CLAT) is an entrance exam that is conducted to offer admissions in LLB and LLM. Though some of the law schools accept LSAT while others rely on the CLAT scores for the admissions. The exam is conducted once a year and the mode of examination is offline. For admission to bachelors course, the eligibility criteria need a candidate to have completed the 12th class examinations while as for a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is prerequisite. The exam demands a vast knowledge of subjects which makes it one of the toughest exams in India.

Why is CLAT one of the toughest exams in India?
CLAT is one of the toughest entrance exams for law in India. The exam’s vast curriculum and a huge number of candidates give this exam to get admission in the top law colleges. This makes the exam extremely competitive.

CLAT 2021 Exam Date: 13th June 2021


UGC NET is a national level exam that aims to screen candidates for the post of Assistant Professor and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) at Indian universities and colleges. One of the top 10 toughest exams in India, it is organised across 83 subjects as well as 81 centres around the country. From 2018 onwards, it has been conducted under the authority of National Testing Agency (NTA) and is usually pursued by those who are studying or have completed their master’s degree.

Why is UGC NET one of the toughest exams in India?
Over 6 lakh candidates appeared for the UGC NET exam and only 40,000 thousand candidates were able to qualify for the exam. This is because paper 1 which is the common paper for all subjects is extremely competitive and challenging.

UGC NET 2021 Exam Date: 2nd to 7th May 2021

National Institute of Design Entrance Exam

Another pivotal mention amongst the top 10 toughest exams in India, NID Exam is a design aptitude test conducted by the admission committee of National Institute of Design to select candidates for its prospective design courses such as Bachelor of Design (BDes), Master of Design (MDes), amongst others. It is carried out in a two-level process, NID Prelims and NID Mains through which aspirants are shortlisted for admissions at National Institutes of Design located across the country.

Why is NID one of the toughest exams in India?
NID is considered a hard exam because it is highly competitive and the questions in the general paper are tricky and the creative section is highly subjective. The creative section’s questions can be challenging and time-consuming. 

NID 2021 Exam Date: 14th March 2021

Recommended Read: NIFT Entrance Exam

[Bonus] Other Toughest Exams Worth Mentioning!

Along with the above-mentioned top 10 toughest exams in India, there are many more competitive exams that deserve a mention! So, here are some other toughest exams in India you must know about!

Indian Engineering Services (IES)

Also referred to as Engineering Services Exam (ESE), IES Exam is another potential contender in our list of top toughest exams in India. It is mainly a recruitment exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) with the aim to shortlists candidates for various engineering positions and vacancies under the different departments of the Government of India. It is organised for engineering branches, i.e. Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. More than two lakh aspirants appear for the IES exam every year and the test encompasses a three-level recruitment procedure, i.e. IES Preliminary, IES Main followed by a Personality Test.

Check Out: Engineering Entrance Exams

Common Admission Test (CAT)

The top business schools in India rely upon the CAT exam to facilitate admissions for various courses in Business Management. The exam tests candidates on various parameters which include Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability skills. Every year around 2 Lakh candidates appear in the exam out of which only 1500 are selected. The mode of the exam is online and is conducted once a year. 

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Which exam is most difficult in India?

Here are the most difficult exams in India:

UPSC Civil Service Entrance Examinations
IIT JEE Entrance Examination
National Institute of Design (NID) Entrance Examination

Which is the toughest exam in world?

Following are the toughest exams in the world:

CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst
CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert
GATE – Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India
LNAT – Law National Aptitude Test
UMSLE – The United States Medical Licensing Examination
CA – Chartered Accountant
California Bar Exam
All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam
IES – Indian Engineering Services
Master Sommelier Diploma Exam

Which is the easiest exam in India?

The list given below highlights the easiest exams in India:

RRB Exams
SSC Group D and C
SSC Steno
IBPS Clerk

Is CA the toughest exam in India?

We cannot say that CA is the only toughest exam in India, but it surely the toughest one belonging to the commerce field.

Hope you liked the list of the top 10 toughest exams in India. Did we skip any name? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, share the names of the exam which you particularly find really tough to clear. Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such informative content!

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