Examinations are tough times for students. Even the brightest minds lose their sanity during exam preparations. Nightmares and sleepless nights become a common activity as the date of the final showdown comes nearer. Whether you are a school or university student, the fear of exams is shared by one and all. No matter what, if you’re applying for jobs or universities abroad, exams are the basic criteria for selecting candidates. Do you think all exams have the same difficulty level? Is it really true that some exams are more difficult than others? What is the hardest test in the world? What is the most difficult exam in the US? Let’s take you on a journey to the top 15 toughest exams in the world based on student research and overall analysis that will answer all the above-stated questions.
List of Toughest Exams in the World
- 15. Gaokao
- 14. IIT-JEE – Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination
- 13. UPSC – Union Public Services Commission
- 12. Mensa
- 11. GRE – Graduate Record Examination
- 10. CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst
- 9. CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert
- 8. GATE – Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India
- 7. LNAT – Law National Aptitude Test
- 6. UMSLE – The United States Medical Licensing Examination
- 5. CA – Chartered Accountant
- 4. California Bar Exam
- 3. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam
- 2. IES – Indian Engineering Services
- 1. Master Sommelier Diploma Exam
- [BONUS] Toughest Exams in India
Gaokao is a college entrance exam in China and is infamous as one of the toughest exams in the world. Due to its difficulty level, some European and American universities have also started to accept Gaokao scores. In the Gaokao exam 2013, candidates were asked to write an essay on how Edison would have reacted to the invention of mobile phones if he teleported himself to the 21st century.
14. IIT-JEE – Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination
Is IIT the toughest exam in the world? As the entrance test for Engineering courses at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the JEE is an exam that most certainly breathes the meaning of the word ‘tough’. For JEE, around 10 lakh applicants registered in 2019 and only 13376 seats were available at the IITs. Acceptance rates hover around a meagre 1%. Adding to all this, the gigantic syllabus and outright unpredictability of the questions in JEE gives you the perfect recipe for one of the toughest exams in India as well as the world. Candidates acing the exam can also get a hold of Siemens Scholarship that can fund your bachelor’s degree in Engineering.
Also Read: JEE Advanced 2020
13. UPSC – Union Public Services Commission
The Indian Government conducts the UPSC examination to fill the posts across varied departments such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Revenue Service, etc. It consists of three impassable levels. The first level is called as Prelims which comprises two general-topic objective papers. Qualified candidates appear for the latter extraordinarily hard level of Mains examination which has a total of seven subjective papers. Those who have successfully cleared the second level then move further to an interview round with a panel that tests personality, awareness and logic. For getting a perspective on UPSC exams, you should know that around 5 lakh candidates take the Prelims competing for less than 1000 seats. UPSC also conducts the IES exam for the recruitment of engineers in the government departments.
Also Read: IFS Exam Pattern (IFos)
Amongst the world’s oldest societies, Mensa is a high intelligence IQ society whose members have a higher IQ than the 98th percentile, i.e. amongst the top 2% of the world. Mensa has a renowned presence in almost every country across the globe. The IQ test administered by the society is an extremely demanding test which analyses one’s intelligence on parameters of reasoning, problem-solving and logic.
11. GRE – Graduate Record Examination
Majorly conducted to check the proficiency of candidates applying to study abroad, the GRE exam holds a lot of importance in the lives of those aspiring to pursue an international degree. It is mainly conducted for master’s level and PhD programs at institutions abroad. As the exam is widely accepted across various US universities, thousands of students prepare and sit for this particular test making it a tough nut to crack.
10. CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is said to be the world’s most difficult and brutal exam in the field of Finance. Every year, a whopping 1,00,000 candidates attempt to crack CFA in over 100 countries. Consisting of three levels, it is designed to test Finance professionals about the necessary financial tools and techniques. Each level involves a complicated six-hour exam consisting of 240 questions. After clearing all three levels, a candidate also needs to gain 48 months of professional experience in order to earn the CFA charter by clearing CFA Level 1, CFA Level 2 and CFA Level 3.
9. CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert
Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert is one of the toughest exams in the world offered by the Cisco Systems to hire networking experts. The exam is bifurcated into 6 parts and is conducted in two phases. Applicants clearing the first phase get to appear for the second one. The second stage exam is 8 hours long in duration and hardly 1% of the total number of candidates are able to clear it. CCIE certification is considered as the most prestigious certificate in the entire networking industry, but qualifying this exam is not an easy task.
8. GATE – Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India
GATE is a national level online examination conducted to test concepts of Engineering, Mathematics, Science and General Aptitude for admission into master’s degree courses in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates. Prestigious Indian universities that accept GATE range from the IITs and IISC to IIMs (for fellowship programmes). Some universities in Germany and Singapore also take the GATE scores into consideration for scholarship opportunities. This one single paper consists of both MCQs and numerical questions.
Check Out Our Exclusive List of Helpful GATE Preparation Tips!
7. LNAT – Law National Aptitude Test
Initially conducted by the University of Oxford, Law National Aptitude Test is an entrance test for students willing to study Law at the institution. But it has now become one of the leading law tests in the UK. The exam is now referred by various UK-based colleges and is conducted in more than 100 centres across the world. The examination helps you understand if the law is the right career for you and universities check whether you have what it takes to succeed in this field.
6. UMSLE – The United States Medical Licensing Examination
Students planning to practise Medicine in the United States have to undergo a tough exam, popularly known as the USMLE which is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). This 3-step examination assesses a physician’s skills to apply concept and knowledge in order to deliver safe and effective patient care. On clearing the exam, candidates get an approved license to participate in various medical and healthcare practices.
5. CA – Chartered Accountant
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) conducts the CA exam which is divided into three levels – CA Foundation, Intermediate (IPCC) and Final. Most of the students often start applying for CA after graduation to get a headstart in the preparation process. The initial levels may seem bearable to the applicants but the last section i.e CA Final is the most difficult step to crack. Being one of the toughest exams, students fail in clearing the last paper in a single go! You can also read our blog on how to become a Chartered Accountant.
4. California Bar Exam
The State of California conducts the prestigious California Bar Exam to select graduates who can be inducted into the Bar Society. With LSAT being its essential prerequisite, the exam is conducted twice each year in February and July. The passing score of 144 is the second-highest in all the states of America. In 2018, almost 60% of the test takers failed to clear the exam. Further, the State of California is aiming to lower this three-day exam’s difficulty by coming up with better metrics for lowering the cut-off score.
3. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam
The Oxford University’s All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam is a historic examination that has been conducted for decades. It is one of the top contenders in our list of toughest exams in the world. Only one or two out of eighty candidates are selected every year for a 7-year fellowship at the institution. Each candidate is asked to write four essays on two general and two specific topics. Typically, the maximum time allotted is 3 hours for each essay wherein questions are generally asked from various disciplines of Humanities.
Check Out: Top Fellowship Programs
2. IES – Indian Engineering Services
Indian Engineering Services is one of the leading UPSC exam conducted to recruit Engineers in various government departments of the country. IES exam is popular among Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Civil Engineering students in India. The rigorous pattern of evaluating candidates to check if they can do the job rightly makes IES a deserving candidate in the list of toughest exams in the world.
1. Master Sommelier Diploma Exam
Climbing at the zenith of toughest exams in the world, the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) conducts the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to encourage improved standards of beverage service by sommeliers, particularly in wine and food pairing. There are 3 components that are put to test, i.e. theory, service and blind tasting. Wherein a normal candidate would be able to clear this particular exam in 5th or 6th attempt, an expert would at least take 3 attempts to clear this wine tasting exam. In the last step, applicants have to ensure that they know the exact year, date and region where the wine was made. This makes it the most challenging wine examination in the world.
Besides, the toughest exams in the world, there are a few programs that are considered the hardest ones to pursue. To know more, read our blog on toughest courses in the world.
[BONUS] Toughest Exams in India
A huge majority of applicants experience genuine difficulties for preparing for any of the above examinations. Without question, these are some of the toughest exams in the world as they are intricately designed with a higher difficulty level. Are you preparing for any of these world’s most difficult exams? Let our Leverage Edu mentors guide you with all the essential knowledge, tips and tricks required to successfully nail your exam with higher scores.