Toughest Exam in India: Top 5 Toughest Exams in India

By Balaji

Updated on: February 17th, 2023

Amongst the Toughest Exams in India, UPSC, CAT, and CLAT Exams occupy the top positions. Exams are a significant part of our education system, that test the thinking and knowledge-retaining ability of the students. Exams in India are descriptive, multiple-choice, or interview-based. To qualify for India’s Most 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 in the exam is less than 1 per cent.

Through the article, we will be shedding light on the Toughest Exams in India, how to approach and clear the Top 5 Toughest Exams in India, and a general overview.

Table of content

  • 1. Toughest Exam in India (more)
  • 2. Top 5 Toughest Exams in India (more)
  • 3. UPSC Civil Services Exam (more)
  • 4. CAT: Common Admission Test (more)
  • 5. CLAT: Common Law Admission Test (more)
  • 6. IIT JEE: Indian Institute of Technology- Joint Entrance Exam (more)
  • 7. GATE: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (more)

Toughest Exam in India

The IAS Exam or the UPSC Exam is the Toughest Exam in India. The exam is conducted to test a candidate’s academic expertise and ability to present in a coherent manner. One needs a disciplined and dedicated lifestyle to prepare for the UPSC Exam. The Exam is conducted in three stages, Prelims, Mains and Interview. Though the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus are integrated, the UPSC Preparation Strategy for both exams is completely different.

Below we have provided an overview of the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam Pattern for a better understanding of the exam.

  • UPSC Prelims 2023 Exam Pattern
UPSC Prelims 2023 Exam Pattern
Paper Name Type Nature of Paper No. of questions Marks for Each Paper Duration
General Studies 1 Objective Merit Ranking 100 200 2 hours
General Studies 2 (CSAT) Objective Qualifying 80 200 2 hours
  • UPSC Mains 2023 Exam Pattern
UPSC Mains 2023 Exam Pattern
Paper Subject Nature of Paper Duration IAS Total marks
Paper A Compulsory Indian language Qualifying in Nature (25% i.e.75 marks required) 3 hours 300
Paper B English 3 hours 300
Paper I Essay  

Marks will be counted to determine the Final Merit list.

3 hours 250
Paper II General Studies I 3 hours 250
Paper III General Studies II 3 hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III 3 hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV 3 hours 250
Paper VI Optional I 3 hours 250
Paper VII Optional II 3 hours 250

☛ Read: Read How to Prepare for UPSC Exam Without Coaching

Top 5 Toughest Exams in India

UPSC Civil Services, Common Admission Test (CAT), Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), IIT-JEE, and Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) Exams are said to be India’s most toughest exams. These exams are conducted and designed in such a way that they measure the candidates’ aptitude, technical skills, physical fitness, and mental stability.

Let’s discuss these exams in detail.

  1. UPSC CSE Exam, also known as IAS Exam
  2. CAT Exam for MBA
  3. CLAT for Law Admissions
  4. JEE – Joint Entrance Exam for Engineering Colleges
  5. GATE Exam

UPSC Civil Services 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 UPSC Exam is conducted in three stages- UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains, and Interview. 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 UPSC 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 1500-200) candidates are selected for the final or interview round. The entire selection process for the UPSC exam is extremely rigorous.

The UPSC 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 The UPSC Prelims will be conducted on 28th May 2023

The UPSC Mains will be conducted from 15th September 2023 onwards.

CAT: Common Admission Test

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 basis

CAT 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.

CAT applicants must check the CAT Eligibility Criteria before applying for the exam.

CLAT: Common Law Admission Test

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.

One should go through the CLAT Exam Pattern to get a better understanding. Before filling out the CLAT 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

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. Only the top 2.4- 2.5 lakh candidates of JEE are eligible to appear for the JEE Advanced exam.

Overview of the JEE Main Exam

Particulars Details


National Testing Agency
Exam Level National Level Exam
Languages in which 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 the JEE Advanced Exam

Particulars Details


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 Mathematics

Paper 2: Mathematics, Aptitude Test, and Drawing Test

Total Marks 360 for Paper 1 and 390 for Paper 2

GATE: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering

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 exam 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.

The GATE score remains valid for three years from the results announcement date.

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
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