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10 Toughest Entrance Exams In India

The best of anything in life is the hardest to get. But we all strive to achieve that, don’t we? Accomplishing something really worth the while comes with immense effort, challenges, difficulties and rock solid determination.


When it comes to the country’s youth, what can be better than making it to the selection list of one of the most coveted entrance exams? All the dream jobs that ensure a secure, high quality and dignified life are bagged through getting selected in one of the most difficult entrance exams on India. Be it a ‘Level-A’ officer in the civil services of the country to an armed forces officer, the journey is fraught with challenges and stiff competition. The two key elements that can see you through this is your will power and sheer hard work.


Now what are these toughest entrance exams? Today, there are hundreds of them but the ones that will see you through to the premier most institutes in the country still remain the hardest to clear. Let’s see which ones they are.


Have a look at India’s top 10 toughest exams to crack –


1. UPSC Civil Service


The Civil Services exam held by the Union Public Service Commission is one such exam that demands knowledge on everything under the sun. The exam is the pathway for being recruited to different central government positions including the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS).


Aspirants are expected to begin with clearing the Civil Services Aptitude Test (SCAT) which is always followed by the main exam. This is again followed by a PI or personal interview. That is not all; candidates are often made to wait for one long year after they wrote their CSAT to be intimated about the personal interview – if they are selected in round one!


Considered the toughest of all Indian exams, only India’s best minds get enrolled as officers by taking this test. Apparently, more than 9,00,00,0 aspirants appear for the test every year while the success rate is only 0.1 -0.3 %.


There are three levels of this exam, namely: Preliminary exam, main exam and personality test or interview. Read more about UPSC syllabus and exam format.




The Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) is another very tough to crack exam for engineering aspirants in India and is held in two parts, JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced. The success rate of 1 in 45, speaks of the difficulty in getting through the test. Over 17 to 20 engineering colleges which include the IITs, NITs and other centrally funded technical institutions make use of the JEE test performance to eliminate or select candidates. Once selected students can choose from courses like engineering, architecture, design, technology, and sciences in colleges that recognize JEE score. This entrance exam is a favorite among the Indian crème de la crème and being selected is considered to be the highest achievement of a student.


Read: JEE Main 2019 – Results, Answer Key and Cut Off


Aspirants looking for getting admitted to the UG courses at the IITs/ISM Dhanbad through JEE (Advanced) are also required to take the test.




Those seeking admission in IIT or IISc, Bangalore have to clear the GATE or Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering. This test is also the doorway for getting admitted to different ME/Mtech and Doctoral courses in the IITs. GATE scores are also considered when being selected for PSU companies which operate under the Government of India. The test comes with MHRD and other government scholarships/assistantships in engineering/technology/ architecture/science. The marks secured in GATE are applicable for a period of three years, from the date of announcement of results.


4. CAT


CAT or Common Entrance Test is for those willing to get admission to Ivy League management and business schools of the country such as the IIMs. The test is one of the most competitive MBA entrance exams conducted in India and the areas of assessments include Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal ability and. Aside from the IIMs, CAT scores are also recognized by a number of business colleges offering MBAs. Over 2 lakh students write the CAT every year while a mere 1500 succeed in getting the percentile mandatory for the IIMs.


5. NDA


The NDA or National Defence Academy entrance exam is held for selecting candidates for the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy. Candidates who clear the written part of the exam are then made to face interviews are held by the Services Selection Board (SSB) of the Ministry of Defence. In general, candidates are selected on the basis of written examination, psychological aptitude test, intelligence, and personality test and SSB Interview. It is said that in order to get selected a candidate has to be physically and mentally tough.




Every aspiring doctor dreams to clear this exam. This is mainly to avoid shelling out lakhs of rupees for a medical degree from a private college situated in a remote area of India. AIIMS is an autonomous body which holds its own pan India entrance test, the results of which are recognized by a great number of medical colleges.


The difficulty of getting selected in the test is easy to imagine, given that students from all over the country are striving hard to make to the limited number of seats.




Held by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE Board), NEET or National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is for aspirants willing to get admissions to undergraduate and Postgraduate Medical and Dental courses in the country. Though not as tough as the AIIMs entrance test, NEET is also considered one of the most difficult crack entrance tests in India.




University Grants Commission – National Eligibility Test, commonly known as NET is held by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to shortlist school and college level assistant lecturers and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) candidates. Conducted in 83 subjects at 88 selected NET examination cities across India, NET is a Central Government’s HRD department funded test. Selected candidates continue to pursue their higher studies while doing some great scientific research! UGC-NET is.


The test is extremely tough and often candidates fail to clear it even in their fourth or fifth attempts.


Read: UGC NET 2019 Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Dates, Fees, and Preparation Tips




CLAT or the common law admission test is taken to secure admissions in undergraduate, and post-graduate degree programmes e.g. LLB and LLM.


The test is held for admitting students to five-year integrated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law (BA plus LLB) Honors and one-year Master of Law (LLM) programme. CLAT is mandatory for admission to the 16 National Law Universities in India.


Once you qualify CLAT you are eligible to get admission in the following programs:


  • BA LLB (Hons)
  • BSc LLB (Hons)
  • BA LLB (Hons)
  • BSW LLB (Hons)
  • BCom LLB (Hons)
  • L.M.

10. National Institute of Design


Cracking the National Institute of Design Entrance Exam or the Design Aptitude Test is the ultimate dream for the creative design students. The test is conducted at major cities of India for the aspiring future designers. The entrance exam enables the NID Admission Committee to assess the perception, attitude, aptitude, achievement, and motivation of candidates writing the test. The first round is followed by a second one where selected students are required to appear for personal interviews and studio tests.


What is interesting to know is that every year these exams keep getting more and more difficult and the highest percentiles obtained too keep going up and up. Only the very best of talents will make it to the other side!!


Read: Must Read Tactics to Remain Motivated During UPSC – IAS Preparation


Author: Baishali Mukherjee

Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, and Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.


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