Top 10 Toughest Exams in India – 2023
In this article, we’ll look at Top 10 toughest exams in India and what makes them so challenging.
As we know, India is a hub of education known for its rigorous and challenging education system.
With numerous exams being conducted yearly amidst fierce competition, it is no surprise that India produces some of the world’s brightest minds.
The exams are designed to test a student’s knowledge and skills in various subjects, and passing them is often considered a milestone in one’s academic and professional journey.
List of the Top 10 Toughest Exams in India
- Common Admission Test (CAT)
- National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)
- Graduate Aptitude Test In Engineering (GATE)
- Chartered Accountancy (CA) Exam
- Union Public Service Commission Engineering Services Examination (UPSC ESE)
- National Defence Academy (NDA)
- Staff Selection Commission Combined Graduate Level Examination (SSC)
- The National Institute of Design Entrance Exam (NID)
The Civil Services Examination is one of the most challenging exams in India and is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The format of the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Exam, also known as the Civil Services Examination, is as follows:
- The Exam is conducted in three stages: Preliminary, Main, and Interview.
The Preliminary Exam consists of two objective-type papers:
- General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (also known as CSAT). The General Studies Paper-I marks 200 marks, and the General Studies Paper-II is 200 marks.
- The Main Exam consists of nine subjective-type papers, out of which two papers are qualifying in nature:
- Paper-A (Indian Language) and Paper-B (English). The remaining seven papers are counted for merit.
- The seven papers are Essay, General Studies Paper-I, General Studies Paper-II, General Studies Paper-III, General Studies Paper-IV, Optional Paper-I, and Optional Paper-II.
- The Interview is conducted for candidates who qualify for the Main Exam. It is also known as the Personality Test and is conducted for a total of 275 marks.
- Total Marks: The total marks for the Main Exam are 1750 (out of which 175 marks are for qualifying papers), and for the Interview is 275
The competition for this Exam is intense & Difficulty Level is challenging, with around a million students applying yearly, and the clearance rate is around 0.2-0.3%.
JEE - IIT
The IIT-JEE is a national-level entrance exam for science students who want admission into the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and pursue engineering.
It tests candidates in physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
It is divided into two rounds- JEE mains, the first round, and the candidates who clear it can appear for JEE advance.
The format of the JEE exam is as follows:
- The Exam consists of two papers: Paper 1 for B.E/B. Tech programs and Paper 2 for B.Arch/B.Planning programs.
- Paper 1 consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) from Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
- Paper 2 consists of MCQs from Mathematics, Aptitude, and Drawing Tests.
- Each paper is 3 hours in duration.
- Paper 1 consists of 90 questions, with 30 questions each from Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
- Each question has four marks, and one mark is deducted for each wrong answer.
- Paper 2 consists of 82 questions, with 30 questions from Mathematics, 50 from Aptitude Test, and two from Drawing Test.
- Mathematics and Aptitude Test sections carry 4 marks each for every correct answer, and 1 mark is deducted for every wrong answer.
- The total marks for the JEE exam are 360 for Paper 1 and 390 for Paper 2.
Every year lakhs of people apply to appear for the entrance exam, but the clearance rate for the IIT-JEE exams averages around at only 25-35%.
Common Admission Test (CAT)
The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their MBA programs.
This Exam tests candidates on quantitative ability, verbal ability, and logical reasoning.
The format of the CAT exam includes the following:
- Sections: The CAT exam consists of three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).
- Mode: The CAT exam is conducted online mode.
- Time: The CAT exam lasts 2 hours, and each section has a time limit of 40 minutes.
- Number of Questions: The total number of questions in the CAT exam is 76, with 26-24-26 questions in each section.
- Question Types: The CAT exam includes multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and non-MCQs.
- Marking Scheme: Each correct answer carries three marks, and each incorrect answer carries a penalty of one mark.
The CAT exam is known for its high difficulty level, and the questions are designed to test the candidate’s analytical and logical reasoning abilities.
Almost 2 lakh candidates appear for the entrance exams, and only 5000 students get admitted into the 20 IIMs.
Freshers and aspirants with work experience can both appear for the Exam, and the candidates who clear the percentile cut-offs, then appear for the group discussions and interview rounds.
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is conducted by the National Testing Agency for admission to undergraduate medical courses in India.
This Exam tests candidates on subjects such as physics, chemistry, and biology.
The format of the NEET exam is as follows:
- The Exam consists of a single paper with 180 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) from Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (Botany and Zoology).
- The Exam is conducted in offline mode, i.e., pen-and-paper mode.
- Each question has 4 marks, and 1 mark is deducted for each wrong answer.
- The duration of the Exam is 3 hours.
- The total marks for the NEET exam are 720.
- The questions are based on the syllabus prescribed by the Medical Council of India (MCI) for class 11 and class 12.
The NEET exam is considered one of India’s toughest entrance exams due to the high level of competition and the vast syllabus that needs to be covered.
Over 18 Lakh students registered for the Exam in 2022.
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)
The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is an all-India level entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) for admission to postgraduate programs in engineering.
This Exam tests candidates on various subjects such as engineering mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering.
The format of the GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) Exam is as follows:
- The Exam consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and numerical answer type (NAT) questions.
- The Exam is conducted online (computer-based test) for 3 hours.
- The total marks for the Exam are 100
- The Exam consists of two types of questions:
- Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): Each question will have four choices, of which only one is correct.
- Numerical Answer Type (NAT) Questions: The answer is a signed actual number that must be entered using the virtual numeric keypad on the monitor. No choices will be shown for these types of questions.
- The exam paper will have two types of questions:
- General Aptitude (GA): 15 marks
- Engineering Mathematics (EM): 13 marks
- Technical Questions: 72 marks
The competition for this Exam is intense, with 8-10 lakh students appearing yearly, and only 15 % are selected.
Top 10 Toughest Exams in India
The Chartered Accountancy (CA) exam is conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and is one of the most challenging exams in the field of finance.
This Exam tests candidates on various subjects such as accounting, auditing, and taxation.
This Exam is divided into three levels: the foundation, the intermediate, and the advance.
The CA foundation course has 4 papers, and the intermediate and final have eight papers each.
The clearance rate of the CA rounds is very low and only 3-7% of the aspirants are said to clear it.
The Union Public Service Commission Engineering Services Examination (ESE) is a prestigious exam conducted by the UPSC for recruitment to various engineering services in the Indian government.
This Exam tests candidates on various subjects such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering.
It has two objective papers in the prelim exams, and those who can clear the cut-offs get to appear for the main paper.
Approximately 4 lakh students apply for the Exam, and roughly 500-700 aspirants can clear it.
National Defence Academy (NDA)
The National Defence Academy (NDA) exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to select candidates for the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.
This Exam tests candidates on mathematics, English, and general knowledge. To crack this Exam, one must be physically fit and mentally strong.
Around 2-3 lakh aspirants appear annually for the examination, and only 350 can join the forces.
The Staff Selection Commission conducts the Staff Selection Commission Combined Graduate Level Examination (SSC CGL) for recruitment to various government posts.
To crack this Exam, one must have a strong English language command, excellent mathematical skills, and a good understanding of current affairs.
There are four tiers in the SSC CGL: Tier 1 and Tier 2 are objective-type papers conducted online, Tier 3 is descriptive paper conducted in pen-and-paper mode, and Tier 4 is the final round testing the candidate’s computer skill.
Over 30 Lakh candidates register for the Tier 1 round, and only around 12-17% of the aspirants are able to clear all the rounds.
The National Institute of Design Entrance Exam (NID)
It is an entrance exam conducted by the National Institute of Design (NID) for admission to its undergraduate and postgraduate design courses.
The Exam is conducted in two stages: the first stage is a written test to test the analytical skills, and the second stage is a studio test that evaluates a candidate’s design aptitude and creativity.
Every year thousands of aspirants appear for the Exam across the country to compete for a total of 275 seats.
We hope the information in this article has given you valuable insights into Top 10 toughest exams in India.
Cracking these exams is a challenging feat. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. However, with the proper guidance and preparation, it’s possible.
Remember, each Exam requires a different skill set and preparation strategy.
Analyze your strengths and weaknesses, make a study plan, and stick to it. Regular practice, solving sample papers, and taking mock tests can help you ace these exams.
All the best.
Q. Which is the No 1 toughest exam?
Ans. The toughest Exam in India is considered to be the Civil services examination conducted by UPSC.
Q. Which is the 2 toughest exam in India?
Ans. It’s difficult to say definitively which two exams are the toughest in India, as it depends on various factors such as the level of competition, the difficulty of the Exam, and the amount of preparation required.
However, the toughest exams in India, known for their high difficulty and competition, are Civil Services by UPSC and IIT-JEE.
Q. Is IIT harder than UPSC?
Ans. Both the IITs and UPSC exams are challenging in their own ways, and it depends on an individual’s strengths and interests to decide which Exam is harder for them.
Q. What is the UPSC Civil Services Exam?
Ans. Civil Services Exam is a national-level exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit various civil services of the Government of India IAS, IFS, IPS, and others.
Q. What is the format of the IIT-JEE Exam?
Ans. The IIT-JEE Exam consists of two papers – Paper 1 and Paper 2. Both papers are objective-type papers.
Q, What is the difficulty level of the GATE exam?
Ans. The GATE exam is considered one of India’s toughest exams due to its high difficulty level and low clearance rate.
Q. What are the eligibility criteria for the NEET exam?
Ans. To appear for the NEET exam, a candidate must have completed 10+2 or equivalent with Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as mandatory subjects with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate.
Q. What is the syllabus for the CAT exam?
Ans. The CAT exam syllabus includes Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation, and Logical Reasoning.
Q. How can I prepare for these tough exams?
Ans. One must have a proper study plan, suitable study material, and time management skills to prepare for the exams.
Joining coaching institutes and practicing mock tests can also be helpful.
Also, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle and take breaks to avoid burnout..
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