Top 20 Toughest exams in world Latest List 2023

Top 20 toughest exams in world is about exams in the world that required very hard work to pass them. By hard work we mean lots of preparation, lots of dedicated time, and a little bit of luck factor of you believe in it.

One commonly hears about exams that are considered very tough to pass. But the toughest exams are not restricted to this country alone. In this blog, we talk about the toughest exams in the world.

Exams considered most difficult to pass are there in every country. You surely do not want to miss out on this piece of information.

Read More – Most toughest exams in India

Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

Top 20 toughest exams in the world is about those tests that require very hard work to come out with flying colours. Let’s see how many of these you know about?

Top 20 toughest exams in world are given below:

1. Mensa

This one among the 20 toughest exams in world has no age restrictions when it comes to taking part in it.

Those who pass the test will become a part of Mensa which is one of the oldest and largest IQ society in the world.

This organisation aims to foster human intelligence for the good of humanity.

But being a part of this organisation is no easy task, those wishing to be a part of Mensa must be within the top two percent of world’s population in terms of IQ.

They should be having an IQ of 32 on the Stanford-Binet scale. This one among 20 toughest exams in the world aims to test that.

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2. Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world is also popularly known as CCIE.

The well-known ‘Cisco’ company conducts this exam with a purpose to recruit network engineers.

One does not simply call this a very tough test. This exam analyses ability of the candidate to plan, operate, troubleshoot network infrastructures on different Cisco equipment.

Also Read – Top 20 IITs in India

There is more to this one among the 20 toughest exams in world. The exam has two parts and is further divided into six parts.

The practical part is said to last about eight hours.

The best part of it is that only about one percent of candidates who have applied are said to come out of the exam with flying colours.

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Read More – Top 20 easiest exams in India

Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

3. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world has good deal of history to its credit.

Oxford University conducts this exam every year to select Prize Fellows.

The candidates who attend this exam are about 50 or more.

However, only two candidates are selected, they become full-time salaried Oxford Fellow.

The fellowship lasts for seven years. Till recently, candidates had to write essays that run long on one word that are given in the paper.

However, currently, exam has four papers and candidates have to answer each paper in three hours duration.

A fine mixture of imagination and factual knowledge will help to pass the test.

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4. Master Sommelier Diploma Examination

Take the name of difficult exams of the world this would would undoubtedly have a prime position in that.

The exam was said to be held in UK for the first time in 1969. And, candidates who have passed the exam since then has not managed to go beyond 250.

No wonder, why this exam is called one of the top 20 toughest exams in world. It has three stages – theory, service and practical testing.

The most difficult part is third part where the candidate has to identify about different types of wines and describe about them.

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Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

5. California Bar Exam

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in the world is conducted by State of California.

Purpose behind conducting this one among the 20 toughest exams in world is to select graduates who can be inducted into the Bar Society.

The score to pass the exam is 144 and this is said to be the second highest in USA.

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6. United States Medical Licensing Examination

This one among the 20 toughest exams in world has three stages. It is not easy to practise medicine in United States. A pass in USMLE is a must if one has to practise medicine in USA.

USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) is said to be a very tough test. No wonder it is considered one of the top 20 toughest exams in world.

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world is sponsored by National Board of Medical Examiners and Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

Also read ‘Top 5 IITs of our country

The exam has three stages and it analyses the candidate’s ability to apply concept and knowledge for providing best patient care.

The toughest part in this exam is the third stage it goes for 16 hours and is divided into two days.

The test on each day must be completed in eight hours. They will have to answer 454 multiple choice questions, first day they have to answer 256 questions, second day they have to answer 198 questions.

Website ‘’

Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

7. Graduate Record Examination

This test which is popularly known as GRE has long ago found a place among the top 20 toughest exams in world.

The exam is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service) and tests the candidate’s verbal reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills.

Candidates who pass this test would get admission into graduate schools in America.

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8. Law National Aptitude Test

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world began its innings in 2004.

Soon after its establishment, this test found the place among the most toughest exams of the world.

The duration of this one among the 20 toughest exams in world is 2.5 hours and candidates who pass it will be able to get admission into law courses offered at law colleges in UK.

The test analyses the reading comprehension and reasoning abilities of the candidates and Pearson VUE conducts the exam.

The exam may look very simple, but a deeper look into it will say it all. The exam does not appear an easy one to crack.

Website ‘’

Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

9. Chartered Financial Analyst Exam

This one among the 20 toughest exams in world has three stages.

Students who pass the exam get a certificate in CFA programme. Things are not as simple as they appear when it comes to this exam.

There is a high demand for those who pass the exam. However, passing this exam requires a preparation of not less than 200 hours each for the three stages.

The programme is offered by CFA Institute based in United States of America.

It is not easy to pass the exam. But coming out of it with flying colours paves way for a rewarding career.

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10. Law School Admission Test

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world is a known name in the field of law education.

This is a known name when it comes to admission into law colleges in USA, Canada, Australia.

LSAT tests three types of skills – reading comprehension, logical and analytical reasoning.

It has six sections – four of them have multiple choice questions, one is for writing and other is experimental section.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – When going gets tough only tough get going is they saying which perhaps stands true for this test.

Website ‘’

Top 20 toughest exams in world
Top 20 toughest exams in world

11. Gaokao exam

This exam is conducted in China and has the reputation of being one of the top 20 toughest exams in world.

It is also known as national entrance exam for higher education and students who aspire higher education have to pass this test.

The exams are said to be conducted for a duration of nine hours over 48 hours. Chinese and mathematics are also a part of these tests.

Students who prepare for this test for a very long time are only capable of passing it. Putting such an effort is easier said than done.

The amount of preparation involved also is said to put students into a troubled situation. Their physical and mental health can take a beating.

12. Medical College Admission Test

This is also popularly known as MCAT and is a known name in USA, Canada, Australia and Caribbean Islands.

This is the exam one needs to take when it comes to seeking a seat in a medical college in the above said countries.

The test could be very simple in name, but a deeper look into it would change one’s mind at once.

MCAT tests knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry, critical thinking and problem solving.

The duration of the exam is for seven-and-a-half hours. Those who are bent upon passing this exam have a full-time preparation setting aside all other priorities.

No wonder, why this one is called one among the top 20 toughest exams in world.

Indian exams

There are some tests from India also which are said to be among the most toughest ones to pass in the world. Collegechalo provides the list of the exams from this country which have found place among the toughest tests in the world. They are:

13. JEE Advanced Exam

This exam is conducted regularly by one of the Indian Institutes of Technology which are also popularly known as IIT or IITs.

The eligibility criteria to take part in this exam is a pass in JEE Mains exam which interestingly is considered to be one of the most toughest exam in India with a rank among the top 2.5 lakhs.

The exam is designed in such a way that only candidates with very good IQ levels get a seat in IITs to study engineering courses.

No wonder why this one is among the top 20 toughest exams in world. It is a matter of pride that our Indian exams has found place among the toughest exams in the world.

This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world has two papers – Paper 1 and Paper 2.

Both the papers are compulsory and candidates get three hours each to answer both the papers.

About one to three lakh candidates appear for this exam and only handful of them get a seat in IITs. Many take more than one attempt to pass this test.

14. Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering

This exam is also popularly known as GATE and has a reputation of being one of the toughest exams in India also.

GATE is also said to be one of the top 20 toughest exams in world also.

Students who wish to study postgraduate in engineering in IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology – IIT) have to pass this exam.

There is a good reason why this test is considered to be one among the top 20 toughest exams in world.

About 5 to 10 lakh candidates apply every year for GATE. But, 15 percent of them pass the exam.

15. Union Public Service Commission Exams

Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) of India conducts exams to recruit personnel for top notch government posts.

The most popular exam conducted by UPSC is Civil Services Exam which is said to be one of the most toughest tests in India.

The proof lies in the fact that about nine to ten lakh candidates apply for UPSC exams, Civil Services exam in particular and only about few thousands get recruited into the plum government postings.

Individuals who want to become IAS, IPS or IFS officers have to pass Civil Services Exam which has preliminary test and mains test.

A pass in prelims is a must to attempt mains exam. Post passing mains exam, candidates have to attend an interview and pass it to win the plum post.

UPSC also conducts various other exams which are also considered very tough to pass. The toughness associated with the UPSC exams have put it among the top 20 toughest exams in world.

16. Indian Engineering Services (IES)

Indian Engineering services exams is one of the toughest exams in the world. UPSC is the one that conducts this exams. It is a competitive exam that is conducted in 4 stages. Indian engineering services is an engineering job obviously but the difference is that it is a government job where the candidates are recruited in the Indian Government.

The candidates who qualify in the IES are recruited in the managerial and technical department of Indian government. It is a tough exam because the candidates have to give 6 tests. The test rounds are not easy.

The exam is conducted every year when thousands of engineers appear for it. Since it is a job in the Indian Government, people are crazy about it. Very few candidates are able to crack this exam.

17. Chartered Accountant (CA)

Needless to say, Chartered Accountant is also in Top 20 toughest exams in world list. The hype about this exam being tough is actually true. ICAI or the Indian Chartered Accountancy of India conducts this exam. There are three stages of this exam. CPT is the first step which is the easiest of all. A lot of CA aspirants are able to crack this.

IPCC is the second step of CA. It contains a total of seven issues grouped into 4 and 3 classes. The last test of CA is the toughest and it is extremely crucial to crack. Lots of candidates fail in the third attempt. The success rate for completing CA in the world is only 8 to 16%.


One of the unique and also one of the toughest exams in the world is NVIDIA. produces Graphics Processing Units for the mobile computing platform on a chip package and for the game market. It is a company that performs one of the toughest exams in the world. There are two stages of this exam.

The first stage is the experiment stage that covers topics like final state computer, cache control, pipelines, C programming principles, and virtual CMOS development. The next phase is the technical interview.

19. NASA Astranaut Candidate Programme

Of course entering NASA is not easy. The astranaut candidate programme is also called ASCAN. ASCAN are the individuals who get selected by NASA for the Astronaut Corps. These individuals are also currently undergoing a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center.

To become a NASA astranaut, the candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree in any science stream like bio science, physical science, mathematics, engineering, or computer science. Along with this they need to have a 3 year experience or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command experience in jet aircraft.

They also have to pass the physical examination of NASA.

20. Common Aptitude Test (CAT)

Last exam in our list of toughest exams in world is CAT. CAT is an entrance exam introduced by the best management college of India and that is IIM. To enter IIM, one has to score excellent percentile in the CAT exams. Along with IIMs, there are various other management and business colleges in India that accept CAT scores for admission.

It is a computer based test which is very difficult because of the competition. Lakhs of students take part in this exam every year. very few students are able to crack this exam with a good percentile and manage to get an admission in IIMs.

There are various CAT coaching institutes in India that train the individuals for this exam. TIME is the topmost institute for CAT coaching.

Conclusion (Toughest exams in world)

Top 20 toughest exams in world are with diverse focus points.

Information provided above is general in nature and is aimed to create awareness about these 20 toughest exams in world.

Those who wish to know more about these top 20 toughest exams in world in depth can visit the respective official websites.

As far as the aspirants are concerned, people who are willing to write anyone or more of these top 20 toughest exams in world, should remember that they have to prepare really well if they wish to pass these highly tough tests.

The only way to taste success in these toughest exams in the world is constant preparation. The world today has become more closer thanks to technology. Job hunting or education admission is not restricted to one’s own country in the present scenario.

Needless to say, when it comes to job hunting or seeking admission in foreign shores, these top 20 toughest exams in world assume great significance.

Tips to crack these exams

The best way to crack one one of these top 20 toughest exams in world is having a complete knowledge of the tests. One has to be aware about the exam pattern, its syllabus so that the right preparation method could be worked out. A little backend information goes a long way for sure.

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.

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 possible information as possible for your benefit.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – 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.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – If possible, candidates can talk to those who have already passed these exams. Even they too will be able to advise on the right way to approach when it comes to preparing for the exams.

Time management is another thing one needs to be aware. Many have the habit of delaying their preparation till the last minute. Let that not happen. Starting early when it comes to preparation is always a wise thing to do. When it comes to the top 20 toughest exams in world, it is even important to start preparing very early.
Take a break regularly. Preparation does not mean one has to get really immersed in it in such a way that they forget other priorities like rest and recreation. Exam preparation schedule must give enough room for rest and recreation so as to resume preparation with renewed vigor. Taking breaks also ensure a good mental stability.
During sleep human mind and body rest completely to regain energy and strength by completing the daily metabolism cycle. A good sleep of 8 hours is recommended by health experts. Some people may prefer to study late at night, some may prefer early in the morning, so check which time of the day suits best, schedule and maintain a proper sleep routine.

Top 20 toughest exams in world

Revision is something whose importance candidates appearing for the exam can never deny.

The best thing to do would be to take a break from regular reading and revise what one has studied till then.

Such kind of breaks from regular reading and frequent revisions will ensure they have learnt their lessons properly.

What else forms the part of preparation plan? Having a sound dietary and sleep schedule. These two will ensure there is enough room to rest and regain vigour.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – Exam preparation does not mean only studies and revisions. The other way to rejuvenate is to spend time with close friends.

There are two benefits. While one is time with friends will help relax, the other gaining point is moments with buddies may also offer some important tips for preparing for exams.

What one does before the exam day is of importance. Candidates should ensure they have a good night sleep and energize themselves.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – Research from various scientific organisations have shown a tired brain is often helpless in working solutions for problems as there is no energy left.

So best to rest on the night before the exam day. Focus on health is also important.

If one has health related issues, better consult a doctor to ensure, complications do not come in the way of attending the exam.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – The best would be to learn shortcuts. There may be quicker ways to find answers for questions asked in the exam, those appearing for exams better learn the shortcuts.

Such shortcuts wouldn’t be available in the regular tutorials or coaching centres. So, be aware about that.

Only those who have considerable experience in coaching students for exams may be knowing them. Approaching these expert coaches and learn the shortcuts.

One has to remember that when one wants a career on an international platform, there is lot involved. It is easy to prove one’s mettle in one’s own country. The same may not be easy on the foreign shores. But desiring a career in an international platform would require one to prove one’s talent.

Top 20 toughest exams in world – Proving the abilities may also require one to take tough exams like the ones mentioned above. They may be hard to pass, but coming out of them with flying colours will offer many benefits. Of course, one doesn’t simply become unique like that, it takes lot of hard work, years of practice to get to perfection in one’s art.

Only true perfection in one’s profession or area of expertise will help pass tough exams like these ones which are described above. Person who is truly committed to achieve perfection is the one who would truly see success.

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S Vishnu Sharmaa now works with in the news team. His work involves writing articles related to the education... (Full bio)

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