Top 10 Toughest Exams in the World


Exams are an inescapable part of modern life and have dictated the course of many of our lives. Though exams are not a mainstay in shaping our lives, it is important to keep track of them and be prepared for what is to come.

Here’s a look at the top 10 toughest exams in the world


Cisco Certified Internetworking Experts are chosen from a large pool of network engineers to evaluate their ability to design, navigate and debug converged network infrastructures on Cisco equipment. The exam has two phases and six parts. The practical phase itself lasts roughly eight hours and only about one percent of network engineers around the world are able to achieve this level of certification.

IES Exam

IES or Indian Engineering Service examinations are conducted by the UPSC in India. UPSC recruits and delegates the role of managerial and technical services of the Indian government through this exam. The exam itself consists of six tests. Again, hundreds of thousands of engineers apply and only a handful are able to get through this arduous examination process.


To get into Mensa one needs to take a standardized IQ test. To become a part of Mensa, candidates have to score within the 98th percentile. While IQ tests are often believed to be the sole indicators of a person’s intelligence, this kind of intelligence can be trained. Certain critics of the IQ test even go so far as to say that it is not culture fair and hence differences in culture can give certain candidates a disadvantage when it comes to taking it.


CFA or Chartered Financial Analyst is one of the most challenging exams in the world. Every year about a lakh apply from various different countries. The CFA exam is a harrowing 6 hours of 240 questions. The exam is over three levels and the candidates in question have to possess 48 months of professional experience to become a CFA charter.

Chartered Accountant

The CA exam is again, a three-level exam conducted by the Institute of chartered accountants India. Many try multiple attempts and fail at it. Overall, only about 10 percent of all candidates are able to pass this exam.

All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam

This exam is conducted by Oxford University and is an exam of ridiculous proportions of difficulty. Only 80 candidates appear for the exam and out of those only one or two are generally chosen at the end. Candidates are required to write four essays in total. There are other questions that need to be answered within a three-hour duration as well. All the questions are mainly informed by the disciplines that fall under the broad umbrella of the humanities

JEE Advanced

JEE advanced is an exam conducted in India to test students who want to study in IITs. They are prestigious colleges that are often hailed as the best in their league. This exam is an objective type exam and often tests the candidate’s ability to perform quick calculations and estimations. Candidates learn many tricks and shortcuts in order to find a way to ace the examination since only thousands are accepted out of the many lakhs that apply.


The Gaokao examination is the only examination that assesses Chinese students for their eligibility to enter any university and is, as such, an equally arduous and important exam. The Gaokao is often prepared for with great effort and diligence on the part of the candidates since it is the sole exam that may determine their fate. The exam is so challenging it rages on for more than a day. A very small 0.2 percent is able to score enough to get into top colleges in the country.


The Union Public Service Commission conducts an exam to assess candidates for various high-ranking positions in the executive body of the Indian government. The exam has a success rate of 0.1 to 0.4 percent every year. The exam consists not only of a written round of objective questions but also subjective ones and finally an interview round.

Master Sommelier Diploma

The Master Sommelier’s Diploma exam is a long and arduous test for winemakers. The last of its three sections is a blind wine tasting through which the candidates are supposed to identify the age and region where the wine was made. Some rumours say there are more details to be provided such as the nature of the barrel it was kept in or the approximate temperature of storage etc. Only 229 people have passed this exam in the last 40 years.

The summary

Having gone through a list of the toughest exams in the world, do your woes seem less urgent? Would you like to take up any of these exams? Though exams have had a bad reputation in pop culture and our own antagonistic encounters with them, one can appreciate the fun of writing an exam when your skill matches the demands of the examination.

Check out also how to prepare for IELTS test.

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