Top 20 toughest exams in India Latest List 2023

Top 20 toughest exams in India – Exams are the perhaps most toughest moments for any student. A pass or a fail in the test will determine his future prospects, his or her reputation among the family and friends may depend on how well he or she did in the test.

The more tough the exam is, greater will be the anxiety levels. Now, the aim of the article is to familiarize the students with some of the exams which are reputed for being the Most toughest exams in India. We bet you that there are not any other exam in the country tougher than these.

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Top 20 toughest exams in India
Top 20 toughest exams in India

List of Top 20 toughest exams in India

#1 UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE)

This tops the list as far as the Top 20 toughest exams in India are concerned. The toughness of this exam is indeed so popular that not many dare to attempt the exam even though they have applied for it. Also, UPSC is one of the most commonly opted careers in India. Needless to say that the bright students mostly opt for this.

Even if they move ahead with determination, aspirants have to pass the three stages in this exam namely, prelims, mains and interview. This is far from being easy, rate of rejection at all the three stages is very high.

The syllabus one has to read for passing the exam is very vast. Success comes only to those candidates who are not only strong in their academics, but also good in general knowledge and current affairs.

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Top 20 toughest exams in India – The aspirants must also be able to find solution to various problems bothering the society with help of strong analytical abilities combined with good communication skill. It is not easy to find these qualities in many of the individuals. That is perhaps why candidates who get selected are only in hundreds while over 10 lakh candidates apply every year for the CSE.

Top 20 toughest exams in India
Top 20 toughest exams in India

#2 JEE Advanced

Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) is the next on the list Top 20 toughest exams in India. This is designed to ensure that only candidates with very good IQ levels make an entry into prestigious institutions like IITs and IISCs to study engineering courses.

The questions are the most toughest and cracking them is only possible for those candidates who are very well familiar with the subjects.

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Much like Civil Services Exam this also has stages. Candidates must pass through JEE Main first which is held twice in a year. A good pass percentage in Mains will only give a chance to take part in JEE Advanced.

Many candidates do not pass the Main in a single attempt as the questions are tough, Advanced level exam has even more tougher questions to face. That is perhaps why the candidates who get admitted into prestigious engineering colleges are just in few thousands while every year number of applicants for JEE Main is over 14 lakhs.

#3 Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

This is also Top 20 toughest exams in India that is never a smooth sailing affair for the students. A pass in this exam will allow students to study post-graduate engineering courses in IITs, NITs and IIITs, but that is far from being easy as the students who wish to pass it have to pass in GATE.

It is here the real test lies as the candidates attending this exam have to study the portion taught in the four year graduate engineering course at the same time. This is no easy thing for all, that is perhaps why not many wish to write the exam.

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#4 Common Admission Test (CAT)

This is the test most of the candidates willing to gain admission in the business schools or management educational institutions are familiar with. Though many believe that this exam is not as tough as Civil Services Exam or Joint Entrance Exam, but it is not easy sailing too.

Long hours of study, analysis of our preparation levels through regular mock tests is essential to pass the test. The test aims to test the ability of candidates to handle various situations they are likely to encounter as a business heads or managers.

This is done through questions related to Interpretation, Logical Reasoning. Even the language skills are also put to tough test. Which means candidates have to not only be strong with business related issues but also have very high language skills. This is the toughness that perhaps makes CAT see a passout of about 1500 or 2000 candidates when actually about two to five lakh candidates apply for it.

Top 20 toughest exams in India

Top 20 toughest exams in India
Top 20 toughest exams in India

#5 All India Institute of Medical Science Exam (UG)

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. This has been replaced now by NEET UG (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test – Under Graduation). Students seeking admission into one of the prestigious AIIMS institutions for MBBS now have to attempt NEET UG.

This test may become a thing of the past now, however it would continue to enjoy the reputation of being one of the most toughest exams in India.

Gaining entry into All India Institute of Medical Sciences to study MBBS is also not an easy task, thanks to AIIMS exam.

A pass in this exam allowed students to study medicine in any one of the seven campuses of AIIMS.

Top 20 toughest exams in India
Top 20 toughest exams in India

The question paper is most difficult and a cracking it requires a good deal of preparation, added to it, the number of seats are also limited while the number of applicants are always more than required.

Questions used to be tough and the seats are limited which only means only exceptionally high marks can ensure a seat and marks are obtained with good deal of preparation.

The questions were made tough every year with only one purpose in mind, to ensure only the most talented  and able get the opportunity to study medicine.

#6 National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) (UG)

This is also considered to be one of the top 20 toughest exams in India.  This exam is a recently introduced one, nevertheless it earned a reputation of being a toughest one soon after its introduction. This exam allows candidates to study graduation in medicine and dental sciences in all colleges located across India.

Around 10 lakh candidates attempt this exam every year for over one lakh seats. A good pass percentage in NEET can be obtained only after mastering a huge portions in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This study has to be done in less time as the NEET comes soon after the Plus-two or equivalent exams are over.

#7 NID Entrance Examination

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. National Institution of Design Examination is also a member of the club of those exams that are considered to be the toughest in India. NID is Also Most toughest exams in India.

The other name for the test is NID Design Aptitude Test (NID DAT).

This is conducted by NID Admission Committee and it aims to know how the level of creativity is among the students when it comes to designing.

Students who pass this test get admission into Bachelor of Design (BDes) and Master of Design (MDes) and Graduate Diploma Programme in Design (GDPD).

So far so good. But when the going gets tough, only tough get going is the saying that stands true to this exam.

Coming out with flying colours in this exam is not as easy as one thinks. First, candidates have to pass NID DAT Prelims.

Those who pass prelims get to appear NID DAT Mains. NID DAT prelims is a pen and paper test.

NID DAT mains has two parts – studio test and personal interview.

Prelims tests how candidates perform as far as design is concerned.

They are tested on how the analytical thought process, visualisation skills.

This part has both subjective and objective questions, answering the subjective questions cannot be an easy task.

The mains exam has a studio test which involves testing on the specialisation, candidate wishes to go for – industrial design, apparel design or lifestyle accessory design.

The expert faculty in charge of the respective specialisation will conduct the interview.

The seats are said to be about 100 in BDes, and about 3000 to 5,000 candidates are said to apply.

The availability is less, but takers are more, so the chances of getting rejected cannot be denied until one really works very hard.

#8 Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. Even this has a reputation of being one of the Most toughest exams in India as only those aspirants with a very good knowledge of law will be able to pass it. Only very long preparation ordeal will be able to bestow the candidate this knowledge.

A pass in this exam will allow candidates to study law courses in prestigious law colleges or universities across India. BA LLB (Hons), BSc LLB (Hons), BA LLB (Hons) are among the courses aspirants can study in prestigious institutions after passing CLAT.

Top 20 toughest exams in India

Top 20 toughest exams in India
Top 20 toughest exams in India

#9 UGC National Eligibility Test (UGC NET)

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list A whole study of respective master’s course syllabus at a stretch will only give a pass in UGC NET exam. Doing this is not easy as studying the two year post-graduate lessons in short duration is not that easy. The number of seats are limited and this makes the matters even more difficult.

A really good pass percentage in the exam will allow the candidates to enter into the posts of assistant lecturers and Junior Research Fellows (JRF). A good pass percentage can be obtained by taking to systematic study of two year post graduate lessons in a lesser time frame.

#10 National Defense Academy (NDA)

Top 20 toughest exams in India – This is also a part of the elite club of toughest exams in India. A pass in this exam will allow candidates to have a bright career in armed forces. Candidates attending this exam will have prove their knowledge in academic subjects in the first phase.

Candidates will take part in Services Selection Board Interview (SSB Interview) where the candidates have to prove their physical and medical fitness along with their ability to handle general tasks in an effective manner. Very few aspirants will be able to do this.

#11 Chartered Accountancy (CA) Exam

This exam is one of the oldest member in the club of Top 20 toughest exams in India as this is historically known for its toughness. It is this reason why not many go for studying CA course in India.

The exam being conducted by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is in three levels namely Common Proficiency Test (CPT), Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and CA Final Examination. Toughness increases at each level and that is why not many pass all the three levels.

#12 IES Exam

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. This is most popularly known as Indian Engineering Services Exam.

Also known as Engineering Services Exam, it aims to recruit engineers for various departments of Government of India.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the exam to select civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electronics and telecommunication engineers.

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However, coming out of this exam with flying colours is not an easy task.

Every year about two lakh candidates apply for the exam and have to pass prelims exam, mains exam and then an interview to finally get to the plum posts in engineering in various central government departments.

The applicants are in lakhs, but the fortunate few who get the job are in thousands. This is more than enough to say how tough this exam is.

# 13 XAT – Xavier Aptitude Test

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. This may not be a government recruitment exam but is nevertheless of high importance who wish to study management courses in reputed institutions across the country.

XLRI of Jamshedpur conducts the exam and candidates who pass the exam get to study MBA/PGDM programmes in Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI). The same institution is now known as Xavier School of Management.

Not only that, the score in this exam is also considered by over 700 business schools across the nation to admit individuals into management courses offered by them.

Every year about 90,000 students appear for the exam but only fortunate few get the admission for passing the exam is not an easy task.

Questions related to Decision Making, Verbal and Logical Ability, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation and General Knowledge.

XAT cutoffs for XLRI’s PGDM-BM programme is said to be about 95 percentile for male candidates and the same for women candidates is said to be 92 percentile for female candidates.

The final word is that only real hard work would bring success in this exam.

#14 JEE Mains

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list.

Achieving the required score in this exam allows students to study engineering, architecture, planning courses in IIITs and NITs at under graduation level.

This is the same exam that one has to pass if they wish to study in IIT.

Study in IIT requires students to pass JEE Mains and gain a position among the top 2.5 lakh ranks.

A position among the top 2.5 lakh ranks is essential to apply for JEE Advanced a pass in which provides admission in IITs.

JEE Mains has three papers, Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 2A.

Paper 1 is for those who wish to study engineering, Paper is for those who wish to study architecture and Paper 2A is for those who wish to study planning.

The students who get to pass this exam are in thousands. The questions are twisted and made tough to test the ability to solve the problem and get the solution.

Many students do not become successful in a single attempt. This only goes to say, the amount of hard work or preparation required to pass the exam is no ordinary.

#15 Bank POs Exam

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. This is also known as Bank Probationary Officers Exam. The preparation required to pass the test is quite high and no wonder this one is also among the top 20 most toughest exams in India.

There are two types of PO exams – SBI PO exam and IBPS PO exam. While one is conducted by SBI, the other is conducted by Institute for Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).

There is always a debate among the toughness between these two exams when it comes to passing them.

The popular view is that both exams require very good deal of preparation.

The recruitment part comprises prelims, mains and group discussion and interview.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – The PO exam conducted by SBI has four sections – Reasoning, English, Data Analysis and Interpretation, General knowledge, Computer and Marketing.

IBPS PO exam has Reasoning, English, Quantitative aptitude, General knowledge and Computer are included.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – Candidates appearing for PO Exam conducted by SBI must have an upperhand when it comes to
data analysis and interpretation.

Aspirants for IBPS PO exam should concentrate on Arithmetic. Candidates who pass prelims and mains can go for stage three.

Stage three in IBPS PO recruitment comprises interview, the same in SBI PO recruitment comprises group discussion and interview.

#16 Combined Defence Services (CDS)

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. Along with NDA, CDS also qualifies for being one of the toughest exams in India. Both CDS and NDA are defence services of India and getting selected in any of the two is not easy. Since the responsibilities included in this job is high, the selection process is tougher too. The individuals who crack CDS exams get recruited in the Indian Army.

UPSC conducts this exams. The selected candidates are recruited in Indian Military Services, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Services, and Indian Air Force Academy.

#17 Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT)

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. AFCAT is another one of the toughest exams in India. It is a government exam for the selection in the Indian Air Force. There are various branches in the Indian Air Force in which the candidates get selected for once they crack this exam. But, the candidates don’t get jobs in the field of dental or medicine branches of Indian Air Force through this exam.

This exam is conducted every year twice on February and August.


This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. This one is a banking examination. IBPS is an abbreviation for Institute of Banking Personnel Selection. IBPS is the one that conducts this exam. RRB stands for Regional Rural Banks and getting a job in this bank is not every easy. This exam is one of the toughest banking exams in India.

The designation that the candidates get assigned to after getting selected for this job are bank PO and clerk. There are a lot of coaching institutes that train the individuals for cracking this exam.


This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. The full form of CAPF is Central Armed Police Force. The Union Police Service Commission or UPSC as it is famously called conducts this exams. The examination is for recruiting for the position of armed police forces. The actual Jon position is of the Assistant Commandant. This exam is conducted every year.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – Along with being one of the toughest exams in India, this is also one of the most reputed exams in India. It is because they offer Group A designation in the Indian Army who are the directly appointed Gazette officers.

All the information of this exam is available on the UPSC official page.

#20 RBI Assistant Recruitment Examination

This is also considered in Top 20 toughest exams in India list. The last in our list of toughest exams in India is the RBI Assistant Recruitment Examination. Talking about the toughest government examinations, this one is very competitive. The exam is conducted by RBI for the post of assistant. The job position is of the clerk. The exams are tough because of the huge number of applications that come for this post.

Since everyone is interested in a job in RBI because of various reasons, it is considered totally tough.

Conclusion (Top 20 toughest exams in India)

The exams mentioned above have the reputation of being the toughest in India. There is a reason why these are like that. The aim is to know whether the candidates who come to write these exams are really qualified or not. Cracking these toughest exams in India will surely take a lot from you.

The concept is to ensure the right candidate is selected for the position of prominence or for a seat in a reputed institution. When a right person takes charge, things will always be smooth.

However, the most toughest exams does not mean one should stay away from them. One has to prepare really well to come out of these exams with flying colours.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – The best thing to do would be to take the guidance of the experts. Aspirants can talk to those who have already cracked these exams successfully. Their view points will give aspirants the right way to approach these tough tests.

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The best way to crack one one of these top 20 toughest exams in India is having a complete know of the tests. One has to be aware about the exam pattern, its syllabus so that the right preparation method could be worked out.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – The other strategy is to also to procure the right study material for preparation. Individuals can divide the syllabus into minor schedules and then allot time to study each of the schedule. It is just not about what you study but how you study.

Technology also comes to the rescue. Online sources can be used to revise, take tests to know where one stands as far as the lessons are concerned. Download all the information as possible to help yourself.

Top 20 toughest exams in India – Some of these exams may not be keen on testing your subject knowledge but may be focused on testing your ability to communicate, work out solutions in a shortest possible time and so on. Candidates can make a note of what the exam actually intends to test and then prepare accordingly.

The other good thing to do is to take help of experts guidance. Their suggestions, ideas will definitely help to work out a better strategy.

Also, we wish you all the best if you are preparing to crack these examinations.

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