Top 10 World’s Toughest Exams – IAS Exams ranks 3 in list

World’s toughest exams list is going to make you insane on a new level. From the very beginning we are introduced to pattern of exams and they do not leave us for a very long time as we carry on with our studies. First school exams, then high school, college, university exams, entrances, and interviews and by the time we fetch a job, we are planning to leave it and switch to a better job. Another exam to face again! This is the bitter truth of our lives and we have to accept it!

When you start reading and collecting facts about the world’s toughest exams, you know it is not an easy deal. So brace yourselves and let your imagination run in full swing!

Following is list of Top 10 World’s Toughest Exams

Master Sommelier Diploma Exam

There are only 229 Master Sommeliers in the world.

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977. The first exam was held in the US was in 1987. The Master Sommelier Diploma is open to candidates whoever have passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Certificate. This incredibly difficult exam consists of three sections: a verbal theory examination, a blind tasting of six kind of wines in 25 minutes, and a practical restaurant service. The pass mark for each of the three sections is 75%.

A master sommelier must know how to serve or recommend wines to go with a meal. This level of sommeliers needs to be an expert in wine history, wine-making and salesmanship, be able to identify wine vintages, qualities or flaws by taste, and be knowledgeable about other alcoholic beverages, spirits, and even cigar production. All this makes this exam rank one in the list of world’s toughest exams.

All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam

The All Souls College entrance exam at Oxford University has been called the world’s second toughest exam. The test comes up in September. The College normally elects two fellows from all the students appearing in the exam. Until 2010, students were to write a long essay about only one single word given in one of the papers in envelope. The questions were in abstract and there were no right or wrong answers. The prize was a 7-year fellowship at Oxford University, which goes to two students each year.

Also Read: Role of Civil Servants (IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and IES)

Civil Services Exam by UPSC (IAS Exam)

Union Public Service Commission is the important examinations agency of India that recruit top government officials in the country. It conducts the Civil Services Exam, Combined Defence Services Exam and many more. The exam is held in three phase: first at a preliminary phase where candidates answer objective question and second the main phase where they appear for a subjective questions and finally an interview round. Approximately 3 lakh students are appearing and hardly hundreds of them are actually selected. Success ratio of becoming IAS very low as only 50-80 students get chance to become IAS. It is considered as third among world’s toughest exams  to crack.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Exam

The CFA exams are considered to be difficult, with historical pass rates as low as 32%. Pass rates sometimes below 50% for each of the three levels in the same given year. The CFA Program includes a series of three exams; Levels I, II, and III. The exams are held annually around the world — on the first Saturday in June. The Level I exam is also offered in December.

The CFA Program makes current practice, investment theory, ethical and professional standards to provide investment analysis and portfolio management skills. Four years of qualifying work experience is must to be obtained to hold this prestigious office. This comes on fourth position among world’s toughest exams.

Charter Accountancy program held by ICAI is also one of the toughest courses to complete, there are numerous papers held in various stages during the program. Getting into course (program) is easy but successful completion requires huge efforts.

IIT JEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination)

IIT is the best engineering institute in the country. Students spend years preparing for this entrance, because getting into IITs in India are not just about studies but status too. Out of every 5, 00, 000 students appearing, only a handful of 10,000 get selected every year. Such is the toughness and standard of the IIT-JEE. The exam is conducted into two papers of three hours each, both of which are objective. Students who do not get through the exam in the first attempt make repeated attempts dropping years; and in the course of time many of them even get admitted to prestigious colleges like Harvard, MIT and many more. IIT-JEE is listed as seventh among world’s toughest exams.

Also Read: Tea seller’s sons make it to IIT, again (A Must Read Story)

GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)

GRE is the entrance test for most schools in the States. It is held both online and on paper. The online exams are computer based, there are six different sections having analytical sections, verbal reasoning sections, quantitative reasoning sections and research sections. The paper-based exam is available where conducting online tests is not possible in some areas. Graduate schools in the USA require the GRE score for their prerequisite score admission. This exam is on fifth position among world’s toughest exams.


Mensa is the well-known and most prestigious and oldest IQ level society on the planet. It is the organization which accept only those who score 98 percentile on an average IQ test or higher level. The Mensa puzzles are designed to stimulate memory of candidates, concentration, perception and reasoning ability, all of which contribute to a high IQ level. In an IQ test, the average score is taken to be 100, and a score below 100 means your intelligence is below average. The youngest member joined at the age of two and a half, and the oldest was of 103. This exam is considered among world’s toughest at sixth position.


China’s National Higher Education Entrance Examination is the ninth world’s toughest exam. To get admission in undergraduate course every student of China has appear for this exam, as it is the main requirement to get into higher studies. The Exam is conducted every year and millions of students appear in this exam. The mental stress that students take through exams has been subject of interests to many documentary makers across the globe.

IES (Indian Engineering Services)

IES is the civil services exam to take care of the technical and managerial services of the Indian Government. Government becomes choosy during the highly competitive IES exams and picking its top officials on the basis of the merit of the appearing candidates. For IES exam, a four stage competitive exam is held across the country, which comprises of six tests. The two part of written tests last for a period of 12 hours after which there is a personality test. Every year lakhs of candidates appear for this examination, as this is the most prestigious post for every engineer in India. The President of India himself appoints the selected candidates to the Group A category. Last but not the least IES comes on tenth position in world’s toughest exams.

GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering)

Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering popularly known as GATE is an all-India examination that tests comprehensive understanding of undergraduate candidates in engineering and science. GATE is conducted by the Indian Institute of Science and Indian Institutes of Technology. The GATE score of a candidate reflects his or her performance level. To get admission in various post-graduate education programs like M.Tech, M.E courses at the IITs, NITs, students need the GATE Score, it is also used for same in many private universities and institutes across India. This comes on eighth position among world’s toughest exams.

Also Read: All About Civil Services Exam



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Articles are written and edited by the Syskool Staffs.


    • Hi guys first let me tell the readers that all those commenting below are the biggest losers debating about something which they are never gonna clear and those guys who clear such exams probably dont even know dat such kind of list exists and before u target me i must tell u that i am a 9th grader

    • you r right CA has 3% pass rate but it is not that difficult to crack even a mediocre student can easily pass CPT and the rest no doubt requires a bit hard work but is of no match with UPSC or JEE or CLAT these exams require high intelligence and knowledge in every field LITERALLY.

      • You are highly mistaken. To become a ca is harder than even IAS. You get to know incce you become one. So just STFU.

      • Its not true..CA exams equals CFA…however the amount of time nd efforts required in preparing for CA are far more than in upsc

    • Boos…. See the passing rate avg from cpt/PE-1 to clear final exm…..

      1000 students entered…. And avg 100 students got degree…… Then give statement…….

      • Brother I don’t know how you calculate pass percentage in the given list of exams ! Please apply mind. Ram is absolutely right. Take the average valued pass percentage right from CPT till Final exams. 100 students appeared, 35% passed CPT, then 20% of 35 i.e. 7 students passed IPCC and then 10% of 7 students ie 0.7 students pass Final and become CA. In real, the results are horrifying in CA.
        We can understand that you all people have always had a biased view for Commerce field.

      • Have u ever heard the word Average? The average is being talked of. If you want to confirm the average go check nov 2013 results. 2.73%.

  1. CA is history evry 3rd person is appearinf for CA exams in kolkata and every 5th is clearing it…so its a perfect list

      • Mr. Anand you must check out the passing percentage pattern of chartered accountancy course. You had better check it out once. And even Cost Accountancy course (CMA) has less passing percentage than CA and toughness level is also high in Cost Accountancy course.

    • Currently it is 8 to 9 %. Only and in some attemts even low . So what if many people are preparing for it and appearing for it .the result is like that only

    • 100 students appeared, 35% passed CPT, then 10% of 35 i.e. 3.5 students passed IPCC and then 6% of 7 students ie 0.42 students pass Final and become CA.

  2. sorry to Say but You forgot to Mentioned PAT Pilot Aptitude Test (most difficult Exam in the World Selected person can only give once in a life before completion of 23yrs age)

  3. how GRE can be harder than IIT-JEE. WE all spends atleast 2 dedicated yrs for JEE and 2 months of alcohol based study for GRE :p

  4. What about postgraduate medical entrance exam and then superspecialist exam. Cut off marks is 76%. Still at the age of 40-45 people are students. Toughest carrier of all.

  5. GRE is tougher than IIT JEE and GATE!! lol this guy who wrote this article didn’t appear for IIT JEE and GATE for sure!

  6. what about the military school entrance exam in 5th standard
    there are 4/5 schools in all over in india

  7. What about SERVOCE SELECTION BOARD (SSB) for joining indian defence forces. Its success ratio is mere 1%.

    Fake list it is…

  8. I think CA Exams should be consider in this list..
    since entrance to exit ratio is too low from CPT to CA final it is near about 0.032%

    • You guys are really doing hilarious things by way of putting ridiculous comments. Are you really literate people ?

  9. Who is the compiler of this study, I want to tell him to learn about world exams and get educated. Have you heard about MIT or Harvard, or NASA, USMLE, . this is biased approach of lifting Indian standard. Indian exams are qualified through reservations and categories. It is merely looking a joke and poke of mind. Do you know, how absurd is it looking only Indian exams promoted.

    • Hats off…you pointed out accurately as this list is completely absurd having no clarification of worlds other exams….

  10. JEE and PMT(India) both are tougher than IAS. And there are many others exams in the world which are alot more tougher than IAS. The guy who has wrote this knows nothing.

    • Exactly…… Aipgee iz more tough den ias, which stands 3rd acc to him….. Even he didnt mentioned about academics…. In medical ug course…passing mks are 50% in theory paper……. N after final mbbs…… If u choose dnb as ur pg course….. U lll find yo know hw tough it was to survive der….. The passing raye iz only 15-16%……. I donn think dat ny course is typical den medical……. We hv to cost our youth just to wear a jewellery called “stethoscope “………

  11. can anybody tell me….why ONLY Indian education al system has these types of tough examinations……?

    • Raaj if you don’t know about CA than don’t say anything…aur jyada confidence h to join CA, saari ecari nikal jayegi

  12. iiisorry but you guys forgot that iit-jee is the moooooost typical and logical exam in the world

    • Aja bete kar le mbbs yha aake….pta chal jayega…kitna tough hai…passing mks hi 50% h……tere jaise bhut h yha……pta b h kya kitna tym lgta h ek doctor bn ne me…….. It costs your whole youth….. Baat krta h… Cbse ki…. aake dekh yha survival kitna mushkil h

  13. For those who wants CA as to be added I this list….first of all you must know about IFoS….chances of success less than 0.02% …..idiots, talking about CA ??????

  14. Bakwas list h yeh…. Kuch b matlb….. Ab daru pine wale sbse tough exam fight krne lge…… Kuch b….. Entrance exam tohh theek h… Academics ki b passing rates bta de bhai……india pg ka analysis kr bhai pta chal jayega…… 19 subjects in total…..

  15. GATE exam is tougher than GRE (which could be easily cracked without even studying.) I personally attempted both the examinations. GATE deals with core engineering subjects whereas. GRE can be cracked by a 10th standard student that too without any preparation of high level. But GATE, you cannot touch a question without ample preparation.

  16. everyone fool, no one can know about C.A,its too hard,I Am not comparing it to upsc but other exam,after upsc this is 2nd hardest exam in India due to limited time for extreme syllabus or hard marking.

  17. What bout national defence academy?
    Where no quota system is being followed like IIT JEE
    NDA is tougher than IIT’s

  18. The person who has published this article, he needs to research more, I think he is not aware about CA exams.

  19. First IES is much tougher than gate & ,ias is far far more tougher than any exam whether it be ca or iitjee or cat there are examples of so many iim & Iit graduates who are not able to clear even the pre of ias after various attempts

  20. According to me, all these exams have their own toughness and importance in their respective fields. So, it is difficult to get the perfect list.

  21. In all of these, IAS EXAM is the toughest one.
    Reason is
    1. It tests the intelligence through pre xam
    2. Check the level of understanding and decision making in all fields either history, geo, polity or internal security. And it needs specially the fusion of both conscious and subconscious mind.
    3. Personality, it doesn’t mean only the ability to solve real life problem but also the level of tolerance .

    And moreover only 200 seats approx. are there.
    And the most important thing, that
    R&AW officials are appointed from civil servants ( IPS, IRS & IAS (for specific tasks)).
    It concludes that it is the toughest.
    Neither CA nor JEE nor GRE nor any other.

  22. Indian server have enough knowledge so that’s it n other exam is commonly lol in other country only in India conduct toughest exam what a joke

  23. Upsc and iitjee most toughest exam in India even CA is also tough but I’m not including that in this because CA we have to study much more then anyone but iitjee and upsc studying is some what less as compared to CA but in iitjee and upsc exam intelligent must be there iitjee means doing science bro science is the toughest exam ever in this world some IIT jee candidates choose iiser stream some may choose IIT and iisc ………..iiser is meanly to become future scientists and now upsc IAS part we have to face interview that’s the toughest part

  24. Sir if you look at difficulty level and course of Jee advanced and mains .I am sure you will make it the in the top of the list.

  25. Comment: ca is not tough, its bunch of hardwork, per year around 10.000 are qualified, even campus placement only 20% plz accept the fact.

  26. Comment:Shab ke Shab chutti ho
    abe ghar me thik se padhai Kroger to kuch bhi
    muskil nhi hai

  27. Bhai jee advanced ka paper ias se 100 times tough hai.. actual difficulty in becoming ias officer is their interview…i m also a jee adv qualified student and i know it is toughest in the world…

  28. who is this man to decide,has he studied IAS/CA/JEE ADVANCED and who has prepared and qualified can only tell .stop this pls .hare ram

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