Toughest Exams In India 2024 – List of Top 5

Exams like UPSC, JEE, and CAT in India are very tough. Many people want government jobs, so there’s a lot of competition. The exams have a lot of topics to study and only a few spots available. So, if you want to pass these exams, you need to work hard.

1. UPSC (Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Examination)

Exam: UPSC

  • Difficulty: Hardest in India
  • Purpose: Selection for civil services jobs like IAS, IPS, and IFS
  • Eligibility: Only Indians with a bachelor’s degree
  • Stages:
    1. Preliminary Examination (Objective Type)
    2. Main Examination (Descriptive Type)
    3. Personality Test (Interview)
  • Syllabus: Covers a wide range of subjects including history, geography, politics, economics, science and technology, current affairs, and optional subjects
  • Attempts: Limited, varies with different categories
  • Location: Preliminary exam is conducted in different cities of India. Main exam and personality test are held at the UPSC’s office in New Delhi.

2. IIT JEE (Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Exam)


  • Difficulty: Toughest entrance exam in India
  • Purpose: Admission to top engineering institutes like IITs
  • Eligibility: Completion of 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics
  • Stages:
    1. JEE Main
    2. JEE Advanced (only for those who pass JEE Main)
  • Format: Multiple choice questions, numerical-based questions, and subjective questions
  • Outcome: Successful performance in JEE Main leads to JEE Advanced. Clearing JEE Advanced makes the candidate eligible for counselling and seat allocation based on All India Rank.

3. CAT (Indian Institutes of Management Common Admission Test)

CAT Exam Overview:

  • The CAT (Common Admission Test) is a challenging computer-based exam required for admission to top business schools in India, including the IIMs.

Exam Structure:

  • The exam consists of three sections: Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).
  • The test format includes multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and non-MCQs, to be completed in 180 minutes.


  • Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum specified percentage.
  • There is no age limit to apply for the CAT exam.

Scoring and Admission Process:

  • CAT scores are calculated based on the marks obtained, which determine the candidate’s rank in India.
  • These scores are crucial for admission to management programs.
  • Candidates are shortlisted by various business schools based on their CAT scores.
  • Shortlisted candidates need to clear group discussions, personal interviews, and written ability tests.

4. GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

GATE Exam Overview:

  • The GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) is a national-level exam for admission to postgraduate programs like ME, MTech, and direct PhD at top institutes in India.

Exam Structure:

  • It’s a computer-based test with multiple-choice questions and numerical questions.
  • The exam covers subjects in engineering, technology, and science.


  • Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, technology, or science.

Scoring and Validity:

  • The GATE score is calculated based on the marks obtained in the exam.
  • The score is valid for three years after the announcement of the result.

Application and Exam Schedule:

  • Candidates can apply for the GATE exam when applications are open.
  • The exam is conducted in multiple sessions annually, but the schedule varies every year.

Post-Examination Opportunities:

  • The GATE score can be used for admission, recruitment, or internships at various academic institutions, research organisations, and public sector undertakings (PSUs).
  • Qualifying GATE is a pathway to postgraduate programs at top institutions in India and abroad.

5. NDA (National Defence Academy)

NDA Exam Overview:

  • The NDA (National Defence Academy) exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for admission to the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Exam Structure:

  • The exam is held in two stages: a written exam and an interview.
  • The written exam contains objective-type questions on Mathematics and a General Ability Test (GAT), which includes English, General Knowledge, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.


  • Candidates must have completed their 10+2 and should be unmarried male Indian citizens.
  • There is an age limit for NDA. Candidates must be between 16.5 to 19.5 years old.

Selection Process:

  • Candidates first clear their written exam, then an interview conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB).
  • The SSB interview tests candidates’ psychological, physical, and group testing skills.


  • After completing their NDA training, candidates are hired as officers in the Indian Army, Navy, or Air Force.

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