Toughest Exam – TOP 10 Toughest Exams In The World


Toughest Exam – TOP 10 Toughest Exams In The World 

Confronting the most challenging examinations globally is an absolute nightmare for any student. When confronted with exams of national significance or higher, there is typically an intensified sense of pressure and unease regarding their successful completion.

However, it is intriguing to note that certain tests are exceptionally arduous to the point where even exceptional students struggle to achieve a passing grade.

List of the top 10 toughest exams in the world.

1. Gaokao

The National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), or Gaokao, is an annual standardized college entrance exam conducted nationally in mainland China. It is a mandatory admission requirement to nearly all undergraduate-level higher education institutions.

Gaokao, lasting approximately nine hours and conducted over two to three days (depending on the province), is a rigorous examination. It includes mandatory subjects like Standard Chinese and mathematics, while candidates can choose their foreign language from English, French, Japanese, Russian, German, or Spanish.

To be eligible, examinees must be third-year high school students, typically around 18 years old, although the preparation for Gaokao usually spans a full 12 years of study. The exam covers challenging questions in various subjects such as arithmetic, chemistry, biology, physics, Chinese literature, geography, and political science. The final score attained by a student is typically a weighted sum of their individual subject scores.


The JEE-Advanced (Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced) is an annual academic test in India. It is a qualifying examination for admission to Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

This exam is widely recognized for its rigorous nature, as evidenced by the recent success rate of only 26.17%. Successful candidates who clear the exam are eligible for the Siemens Scholarship, which provides financial support for their studies.

Additionally, JEE-Advanced scores are considered by non-Indian universities like the University of Cambridge and the National University of Singapore as part of their admission process. The JEE is divided into two tiers, comprising different stages of the examination.

JEE Mains: The Mains examination lasts 3.5 hours and consists of three papers. It is a gateway for admission to bachelor’s degree programs in engineering, technology, architecture, and planning.

JEE Advanced: The Advanced exam lasts 3 hours and is designed for students aspiring to secure admission to the esteemed Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).


The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) is India’s primary central recruitment agency responsible for selecting Group ‘A’ officers in the government. The UPSC examination is conducted in three phases. The initial phase consists of a preliminary examination of two objective-type papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II.

The second phase is the main examination, which includes nine essay-type papers. Two papers qualify, and the marks obtained in the remaining seven papers are considered for evaluation. After the main examination, an interview is conducted as the final phase. The preliminary examination takes place annually in March, while the main examination is held in December.

The entire process of completing the UPSC exam typically takes around 32 hours. Successful candidates who pass the exam are appointed to esteemed positions such as the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other relevant roles based on their scores.

4. Mensa

Mensa, recognized as the world’s largest and oldest high-IQ society, provides a standardized intelligence test comprising 35 items that must be completed within 25 minutes. The test focuses on visual patterns that increase in complexity, requiring no specialized knowledge or mathematical skills.

Each correct answer earns one point, with equal weight given to all items. Membership in Mensa is open to individuals who score within the upper two percentile of the general population on an approved intelligence test administered under appropriate supervision.

The evaluation is available for individuals ranging from 3 to 105 years old. Since its establishment, Mensa has expanded its membership to include over 145,000 individuals across more than 100 countries.

5. GRE ( Graduate Record Examination )

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are mandatory for admission to numerous graduate programs in the United States and Canada. Conducted by Educational Testing Service, this exam evaluates verbal reasoning, quantitative ability, and analytical writing skills.

The computer-based assessment lasts for three hours and forty-five minutes, including short breaks after each section and a ten-minute break following the third section. Individuals have the option to take the GRE up to five times per year, and the scores remain valid for a period of five years. There are no specific prerequisites required to take this exam.

6. CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) charter is a prestigious designation granted to individuals who have successfully completed the CFA program and met the required work experience criteria. The CFA program encompasses three examinations that assess candidates’ understanding of essential investment tools, asset valuation, portfolio management, and wealth planning.

These exams are conducted once a year, with all three levels taking place simultaneously on the same day. To qualify for the program, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, be in their final year of a bachelor’s degree program at the time of registration, or possess four years of relevant professional work experience. The first two levels of the exam feature objective questions, while the third level includes subjective questions.

7. CCIE ( Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert)

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is widely recognized as the most prestigious networking certification worldwide. This certification encompasses various specializations, including routing and switching, service provider, security, collaboration, data centre, and wireless.

To qualify for CCIE certification, individuals must pass two sets of exams specific to their chosen specialization. Upon completing both exams, candidates are granted the esteemed Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert title.

  • Written exam: duration is 120 minutes with multiple choice questions
  • Lab exam: duration is 8 hours in one day.

8. GATE ( graduate aptitude test in engineering India)

The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates the understanding of various undergraduate topics in Engineering and Science. It is a criterion for admission into Master’s programs and provides job opportunities in public sector companies. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture or a Master’s in Science and Computer Applications can take the approximately three-hour-long exam.

GATE examinations are conducted in India and in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. These exams assess Engineering, Mathematics, Science, and General Aptitude concepts for admission into master’s degree courses. The results of the GATE examination remain valid for a duration of three years.

9. All Souls Prize fellowship exam

Every autumn, All Souls College undertakes the selection process for examination fellows, also called Prize fellows. The college typically elects two individuals from a pool of 100 or more candidates. These fellowships are seven years long and cannot be extended or renewed.

All Souls College does not have undergraduate members but offers a limited number of annual examination fellowships to recent post-graduate students. The selection process involves a competitive examination where applicants must submit essays on broad topics and two specific subjects. Each essay has a maximum time limit of 3 hours and covers questions from various fields within the humanities.

Expertise in one or more specific topics or areas is required for two of the four subjects.

  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Classical studies
  • English literature
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Law

10. Exam for the Master Sommelier Diploma

The examination to obtain the master Sommelier diploma is administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers, an educational organization established to enhance beverage service standards in hotels and restaurants.

This examination, a wine-tasting test for experienced winemakers, is divided into three parts. The first part is a theory examination conducted orally, followed by a deductive tasting of six wines, and finally, a practical wine service exam. A minimum score of 75% is required to pass each section, which is higher than the standard 60%.

While these exams are widely regarded as challenging, they are not insurmountable. With hard work, consistency, patience, and the ability to persevere through setbacks, cracking these exams can be achievable. It is crucial to clearly understand the topics and subjects that demand more attention and focus than others.

Jael Okwuchukwu
Jael Okwuchukwu
I am Okwuchukwu Jael, a writer, educator, and musician from Enugu State. Teaching, both academic and musical, is a passion of mine, and I specialize as a Western pianist. Currently, I am employed as a blogger at Writer's King LTD, combining my love for writing and desire to share knowledge with a broader audience.


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