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