Toughest Exam in India: Top 10 Toughest Exams in India to Crack in 2023

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Toughest Exam in India: UPSC, CAT, and CLAT Exams occupy the top positions in the list of toughest exams. Exams in India are descriptive, multiple-choice, or interview-based. To qualify for India’s toughest exam, it is very essential to have a robust timetable, approachable exam strategy, and perseverance, along with the determination to clear the exam.

The Most Toughest Exam in India is said to be the UPSC CSE or the IAS Exam. The success rate of the candidates appearing for the exam is less than 1 percent. Through the article, we will be shedding light on the top 10 Toughest Exam in India, along with a general overview of them.

Top 10 Toughest Exams in India to Crack in 2023

Competitiveness in our educational system is crucial for bringing forth a student’s best qualities. It helps pupils’ skill sets and creativity to develop. A variety of attributes, including aptitude, mental acuity, technical competence, and physical fitness are assessed during competitive exams.

In India, thousands of tests are held annually; the majority are straightforward to pass, with only a small number being thought to be particularly difficult. The list of top 10 toughest exam in India to crack in 2023 is illustrated below.

  1. UPSC
  2. IIT JEE
  3. NDA
  4. UGC-NET
  5. Indian Engineering Services (IES)
  6. CLAT (Common Law Admission Test)
  7. Chartered Accountant (CA) Exam
  8. NEET
  9. CAT: Common Admission Test
  10. GATE: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering

UPSC Civil Services Exam – India’s Toughest Exam

The UPSC Exam is said to be the toughest exam in India. It is the most competitive and difficult exam that is conducted in India. The exam is conducted in three stages – Prelims, Mains, and the Interview round. The exam recruits candidates for the top services of the nation, such as the IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, and many other Group A and B services under the Central Government.

Every year, around 10-12 lakh candidates fill out the online form after the UPSC Notification. Around 6-8, lakh aspirants sit for the Preliminary exam, and only 15-17 thousand get selected for the Mains exam. Following this, only a handful (about 1500-2000) of candidates are selected for the final or interview round. The entire selection process for UPSC exam is extremely rigorous.

  • The syllabus is vast and covers major subjects like History, Polity, Geography, Economy, Environment & Ecology, Science, and Technology.
  • Current Affairs and Static GK Questions are also important in the exam.
Exam Name UPSC CSE/ UPSC Civil Services Examination/ IAS Exam
Conducting Body UPSC – Union Public Service Commission
Exam Level National
Exam Periodicity Yearly
Exam Mode Offline
Exam Type Pen-Paper; OMR sheet
UPSC Exam Date 2023 UPSC Prelims 2023 will be conducted on 28th May 2023Mains 2023 will be conducted from 15th September 2023 onwards

IIT JEE: Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Exam

The IIT JEE is a national-level common entrance exam for admission to various engineering colleges, such as IITs, NITs, etc., in India. NTA conducts the IIT JEE exams. The IIT JEE Exam is conducted in two stages – JEE Mains and JEE Advanced. The IIT JEE Mains is the first stage of the entrance exam twice a year (January and April) to offer admissions into various government and private colleges.

The JEE Advanced is the second and final phase of the IIT JEE Exam. Selected IITs conduct the exam on a rotational basis to offer admission to 23 IITs. It is regarded as the 2nd toughest exam in India as only the top 2.4- 2.5 lakh candidates of JEE are eligible to appear for the JEE Advanced exam.

Overview of JEE Mains Exam

Particulars Details
Conductedby National Testing Agency
Exam Level National Level Exam
Languages in which the exam is conducted Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu
Mode of Application Online
Mode of Exam Computer Based Test (CBT)
Total Marks 300
Exam Duration 3 Hours

Overview of JEE Advanced Exam

Particulars Details
Conductedby National Testing Agency
Exam Level National Level Exam
Mode Computer-based and pen-paper-based test
Type of Questions Objective Type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Marking Scheme 4 marks for every correct answer, -1 for every wrong answer, and 0 for every un-attempted question
Subjects Paper 1: Physics, Chemistry, and MathematicsPaper 2: Mathematics, Aptitude Test, and Drawing Test
Total Marks 360 for Paper 1 and 390 for Paper 2

NDA (National Defence Academy)

Young trainees from the Army, Navy, and Air Force prepare jointly at the National Defense Academy (NDA), the Joint Services College of the Indian Armed Forces. This exam is regarded as the toughest exam in India due to the fact that a large number of candidates appear for it and considering the recent quota structure.

All 10+2 graduates who want to enroll in the military must clear this NDA exam. The examination takes place twice a year, in the months of April and September. The Union Public Service Commission assists with the test.


UGC-NET is an examination that is only relevant for post-graduate students. The test shortlists school and university level Assistant professors and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) prospects. UGC is the 4th toughest exam in India, which is difficult to clear as it constricts its candidature.

In 2013, UGC or University Grants Commission articulated that the candidates who pass the National Eligibility Test are eligible for a lucrative profession in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). PSUs can utilize UGC-NET scores for the registration process of the administrator’s positions in their institutions in branches of Science (R&D), administration, corporate dealings, accounts branch, HR, and so on.

Indian Engineering Services (IES)

IES or Indian Engineering Services is a three-stage examination conducted by UPSC. The phases of the exam constitute General Aptitude Test, an Objective Technical paper, a Technical paper, followed by an Interview.

IES offer civil services post for mechanical and managerial domains of the Government of India. It is one of the toughest exams in India, but after clearing it, the jobs offered to candidates are quite lucrative.

CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) – Toughest Law Exam in India

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a national level Law entrance exam conducted by the Consortium of NLUs for both UG & PG Courses. The CLAT Exam Consortium is headquartered at NLSIU Bangalore. The CLAT Exam for UG comprises 150 questions from five subjects, ranging from English Language and Current Affairs, General Knowledge, Legal Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Techniques, to be solved in 120 minutes.

Analyzing the important topics asked in the examination and CLAT Exam Pattern will make you understand why it is among the toughest exams in India. Before filling out the application form, candidates must check the CLAT Eligibility Criteria.

Features Highlights
CLAT Full-Form Common-Law Admission Test
Exam Frequency Twice a year
Exam Type Law Entrance Test
CLAT Exam Mode Offline
CLAT Exam Duration 2 hours
Accepting Colleges CLAT Exam Colleges List 2023
Official Website

Chartered Accountant (CA) Exam

ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) conducts CA or Chartered Accountant three-level exams. The first level is the CPT or Common Proficiency Test, proceeded by the IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course). The latter requires studying a total of 7 subjects divided into groups of four and three.

The final examination is called the CA Final exam, which requires extreme hard work as it is one of the toughest exams in India having a success rate of just 8-16% which generally varies depending on the demand of CAs in the nation.

NEET (Toughest Medical Exam in India)

NEET stands for National Eligibility Entrance Test and is an entrance exam for pursuing BDS and MBBS courses at dental and Indian medical institutes. Formerly, it was referred to as the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT). The test is conducted by NTA (National Testing Agency).

This toughest exam in India is held annually in May and offers 90,000 seats in MBBS and BDS Colleges in the country. It is essential that candidates who wish to make their career in these fields must have finished their 10th and 12th with a Science background (particularly Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Biotechnology). During counseling sessions, students are asked to submit their passing certificates.

Features Highlights
NEET Full-Form National Eligibility Entrance Test
Exam Frequency Once a year
Exam Type Medical and Dental entrance test
NEET Exam Mode Offline
NEET Exam Duration 3 hours and 20 minutes
Accepting Colleges 355 medical colleges and 125 dental colleges
Official Website

CAT: Common Admission Test (Toughest MBA Exam)

CAT Exam is the most popular MBA entrance exam conducted in India to get admission into the premier IIMs of the country. CAT is a computer-based MBA entrance test conducted at the national level for admission to all 20 IIMs and other top MBA colleges.

The exam consists of three sections, namely Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). The CAT exam question paper covers both MCQ & Non-MCQ questions.

Exam Name CAT 2023
CAT Full-Form Common Admission Test
CAT Official Website
Exam Conducting Body One of the IIMs on a rotational basisCAT 2023 will be conducted by IIM Lucknow
Exam Type National Level, MBA Entrance Exam
Exam Frequency Once a year
Exam Mode Online
Language English
Exam Helpdesk No. 1-800-209-0830 (Toll-Free)

Applicants must go through the CAT Exam notification to ensure they understand all the important details about the exam. The basic eligibility to appear for the CAT Exam is to hold a graduate degree from a recognized university or equivalent. Applicants must check the Eligibility Criteria for CAT exam before applying for this toughest exam in India.

GATE: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (Toughest PG Exam)

GATE Exam is a national-level engineering entrance exam for admission into Master’s Programs and recruitment in PSUs. The exam has 29 disciplines, and candidates can opt for more than 1 subject per the latest guidelines. The GATE score remains valid for three years from the results announcement date.

GATE, which is last in the list of toughest exams in India is conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, and Roorkee on behalf of the National Coordination Board (NCB)-GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India.

Exam Name GATE
GATE Exam Full-Form Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering
GATEOfficial Website
Exam Conducting Body Conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
GATE 2023 conducting Institute IIT Kanpur
Exam Type National Level
Exam Frequency Once a year
Exam Mode and Type Online; MSQ/MCQ/NAT
Language English
GATE Exam Duration 3 Hours

Toughest Exam in India: Summary

UPSC Exam is the Toughest Exam in India. The exam is conducted to test a candidate’s academic expertise and ability to present coherently. One needs a disciplined and dedicated lifestyle to prepare for this exam. The Civil Services Exam is conducted in three stages, Prelims, Mains, and Interview.

CA or Chartered Accountant is another toughest exam in India as candidates need to clear all 4 rounds (Foundation, Intermediate, 3 Years Articleship, and CA Final) in the first attempt only. Other toughest exams in India are NEET, NDA, GATE, and IIT JEE, which require rigorous preparation and practice.

UPSC Articles
UPSC Post List IAS Full Form
CSAT Study Material UPSC Ke Liye Kya Qualification Chahiye?
Famous IAS Officers in India UPSC Cutoff
How to Become an IAS Officer? UPSC Prelims Preparation in 3 Months
Tips to Clear IAS Prelims UPSC Exam Centre
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium