Toughest Exams in the World

Toughest Exams in the World

When it comes to knowing the best from the rest, admission examiners know better. They have devised some creative and imaginative ways to assess test-takers. These ways of analysing exam candidates have evolved into the toughest exams in the world. In this blog, we will be exploring all those exams that are considered the most difficult ones across the globe. Below is a list of some of the toughest exams in the world in no particular order.

Brief Look into the Toughest Exams in the World

All Souls Prize Fellowship, Oxford University, London

Oxford University’s All Souls is a historic examination that has been conducted for decades. It is one of the top contenders of the toughest exams in the world. Only one or two out of eighty candidates are selected every year for a 7-year fellowship. Each candidate is asked to write four essays on two general and two specific topics. Typically, the maximum time allotted is three hours for each essay. Questions are generally asked from various disciplines of humanities.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is said to be the world’s most difficult and brutal finance exam. Every year, a whopping 1,00,000 candidates attempt to crack the exam 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.

Joint Entrance Examination, India (JEE)

As the entrance exam 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 IITs. Acceptance rates hover around a meager 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 the world, unquestionably in India. 

Union Public Services Commission, India (UPSC)

The Indian government conducts the UPSC examination to fill the posts across 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 extraordinarily hard next level of Mains examination which has 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, you should know that around 5 lakh candidates take the Prelims competing for less than 1000 seats.


Amongst the world’s oldest societies, Mensa is a high intelligence IQ society whose members have an IQ higher than the 98th percentile, i.e. amongst the top 2% of the world. Mensa has a known presence in almost every country. The IQ test administered by the society is an extremely demanding test which analyses your intelligence in terms of reasoning, problem-solving and logic. 

California Bar Exam, United States

The State of California conducts the prestigious California Bar Exam to select graduates who can be inducted into the Bar Society. The passing score of 144 is the second-highest in all the states of America. In 2018, almost 30 percent of the test takers failed to clear the exam. There are some efforts that are being made to lower the exam’s difficulty.

Gaokao, China

Gaokao is the college entrance exam of China and is infamous as one of the toughest exams in the world. Due to its difficulty level, some European and American universities have started to accept Gaokao scores. In 2013, candidates were to write an essay on how Edison would have reacted to the invention of mobile phones if he teleported himself to the 21st century.

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India (GATE)

This is a national level online examination conducted to test concepts of engineering, mathematics 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 take the GATE score into consideration for scholarship opportunities. 

Toughest Exams in the World: Other Contenders Worth Mentioning

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Also Read:

  • Scholastic Aptitude Examination (SAT)

Also Read:

  • Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT)

Also Read: GMAT Paper Pattern – Latest 2019 Update

  • Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
  • Chartered Accountant (CA)
  • Chartered Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT)

Also Read: Toughest Courses in the World

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 toughest exams? Let our Leverage Edu mentors guide you with all the essential knowledge, tips and tricks required to successfully nail your exam. 

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