Toughest Exams in the World

Toughest Exams in the World

Examinations are one of the worst nightmares of every individual. At a very early age, we are introduced to exams and it does not leave us for a long time. As we grow up, the exams become more challenging and competitive.

Exams are the push every student needs in their life. The competition between the students to score higher marks help them to work harder and motivate themselves. It not only increases the knowledge but also helps the individual to handle any tough situation in life. Students must take exams as a platform to analyze the level of their knowledge in a particular subject. Once the individual gets the results/score obtained, he/she can take the necessary measures to improve in the same.

Top 10 Toughest Exams in the World

Although every student may feel that he/she has faced the most challenging exam, deep down, we are aware that some exams are more difficult than the ones we have faced so far.

Here is the list of 10 most difficult exams based on the overall analysis and student research: 

  1. CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert)
  2. GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)
  3. Gaokao
  4. Joint Entrance Examination Advanced (JEE-Advanced)
  5. UPSC - Union Public Service Commission
  6. Mensa
  7. GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)
  8. CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
  9. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam
  10. Master Sommelier Diploma Exam

Click on any of the exams to know more about it.

  1. CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) - Toughest Exam in the World

CCIE Certification was introduced to support the industry in identifying the top-ranking internetworking experts worldwide and to evaluate Expert-level infrastructure network design talents worldwide.

The certification is accepted worldwide as the most reputable networking certifications. The authorities continuously update its testing tools and the methodologies.

According to Cisco, only 3% of the candidates are selected and certified in CCIE. The test is divided into 2 phases. One requires to clear the first phase to enter the second. The second phase consists of an 8 hours practical exam and has a success rate of 1 percent.

  1. GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) - Toughest Exam in the World

GATE is an all India level entrance test for students pursuing engineering. The GATE score opens doors for postgraduate courses in prestigious universities. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and seven Indian Institutes of Technology which include IITs at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, and Roorkee administrate the conduction of GATE Exam.

  • About 10 lakh students appear for the examination every year, out of which only 15% qualify.

  • However, the only candidates who have a percentile higher than 99 are eligible for the IITs.

  1. Gaokao - Toughest Exam in the World

Gaokao, exam in China is also known as the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. Every student who wishes to attain higher education should attend this exam as it is the primary requirement to get into higher education.

  • The exams are conducted for about nine hours over a period of two days which include Chinese and Mathematics in all tests.

  • The overall marks received by the student is usually the average sum of their individual subject marks which in turn decides the fate of millions of students across the country.

  • It is ranked as the 8th most difficult exam to crack globally.

  • The mental stress that students go through has attracted many documentary makers all over the world.

  1. Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced (JEE-Advanced) - Toughest Exam in the World

Formerly known as IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination), JEE Advanced is an engineering college entrance examination conducted in India. It has to be cleared by the candidates who wish to be admitted to IIT which is the best engineering institute in the country.

  • Students prepare for years to tackle the exam as IITs are the most prestigious engineering colleges in India.

  • Out of every 5 lakh students appearing for the exam, only 10,000 get selected every year.

  • The exam is divided into two papers of three hours each, both of which are objective type papers. Negative mark of 1/4th is applicable for every incorrect answer.

  1. UPSC - Union Public Service Commission - Toughest Exam in the World

The central agency in India conducts the exams to recruit all the top-notch government officials in the country. It is considered as the most challenging examination in the country as even those who clear the IIT and GATE find it difficult to clear UPSC.

  • The exam has three phases, at first where candidates answer the objective questions and then the main phase where they appear for a subjective one and then an interview.

  • Out of approximately 3 lakh students appearing for the exam, only 1000 are selected.

  1. Mensa - Toughest Exam in the World

Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world which was founded by Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister, and Dr. Lancelot Ware, a British scientist, and lawyer, at Lincoln College, in Oxford, England, in 1946 with an intention of creating a society for very intelligent people. The only qualification for membership to Mensa society is a high IQ.

  • It is a non-profit organization accessible to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a regulated, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.

  • Different countries and national groups have their own procedures for exams. Mensa too has its own system where they evaluate people on the basis of the quality of their talents.

  • There is no age restriction to join Mensa and Elise Tan-Roberts of the UK is the youngest person ever to join Mensa at the age of two years and four months.

  1. GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) - Toughest Exam in the World

GRE is one of the most widely taken tests globally and also one of the most difficult to crack. It also acts as an entrance exam for most of the universities in the US providing higher education.

  • It can be taken online as well as offline. The paper-based test is available only to those areas where conducting the online test is impossible.

  • There are 6 different sections which include analytical writing sections, verbal reasoning sections, quantitative reasoning sections, issue task, argument task, and research section.

  1. CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) - Toughest Exam in the World

The CFA is not exactly an examination, it is more of a professional stature for the finance and investment professionals. The Wall Street Journal has recognized it as the most difficult exam in the world.

  • After many repeated attempts only 1/5th of the applicants clear the test each year. The test includes two objective and one essay type papers. Only 9% of the applicants have consecutively passed all three levels in the past decade.

  • As of 2018, there are approximately 150,000 charter holders around the world across 165 countries.

  • It is required to have 4 years of prior working experience or combination of work experience and education acceptable by the CFA Institute as eligibility criteria in order to attend the test.

  1. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam - Toughest Exam in the World

This fellowship exam conducted by Oxford University’s All Souls College is one of the toughest exams in the world. The exam includes four papers, each of which has a duration of three hours.

Until 2010, in one of the paper, the candidates were required to write a long essay based on the given one word. The level of difficulty can be analyzed when only two members are selected every year.

One needs to have an enormous level of factual knowledge and highly brainstorming skills to answer the questions in the exams.

  1. Master Sommelier Diploma Exam - Toughest Exam in the World

This exam is considered the world’s toughest examination. One does not have any idea as of how selective the administrators can get while selecting the candidates. The exam is divided into three sections which include theory, service, and blind tasting. In the blind tasting, the students are supposed to identify the year and region of the wine since it is a test for expert winemakers. As a result, most of the candidates fail in the third phase and try to reappear for the third phase.

  • On an average basis, the candidate attempts it 2-3 times, some attempt as many as six times.

  • The exam was first taken 40 years ago in the UK and as of now, only 200 candidates have been selected on the basis of this exam.



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