Can You Crack The Toughest Exams In The World?

Written by Shefali Onawale

Someone, somewhere said a thing...and now we remember it because they probably wrote it down! She used to write for herself and now writes to help others. Writing has brought her a long way and she wishes to walk some more, preferably making sojourns along the way.

July 26, 2021

You may have heard about the toughest exams in the world but do you know why they are considered to be the hardest to crack? The difficulty level of an exam depends on the person appearing for it. You may find an exam is difficult to crack while your friend may find the same test to be a cakewalk. For example, if an exam is made exclusive to a particular stream, they expect to see the candidates’ in-depth understanding of the stream. 

Regardless of your IQ levels and academic background, there are some tests that are considered to be the hardest exams in the world. This article puts together some of the toughest exams in the world based on an overall analysis. 

Toughest Exams In The World


This is the world’s largest and toughest exam and over 9.75 million students registered for this annual exam in China in 2020. If you want to pursue your tertiary education in China, you may want to look out for the universities with a high acceptance rate in China. On the contrary, the Gaokao is a national college entrance exam that screens and selects students of high calibre for enrolling them into higher education institutions in the country. The Gaokao is often compared to the USA’s SATs. Even though both the exams are very different, the three-digit Gaokao score may be accepted in some European and American universities. 

Union Services Public Commission (UPSC) 

If you are looking for alternatives to university education in India, you may have thought of appearing for UPSC. This exam is organised by the Indian Government to fill the posts across varied departments such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Revenue Service, etc. There are three stages to crack this exam: Preliminary, Mains, and Interview Stage. Qualified candidates who appear for the extraordinarily hard level of the Mains examination which has a total of seven subjective papers are considered to have great potential. Those who have successfully cleared the second level then move further to an interview round with a panel that tests personality, awareness, and logic. Every year over 5 lakh (5,00,000) students appear for this exam and compete for only 1000 seats in the commission. This makes it one of the toughest exams in the world! 


Mensa is a high intelligence IQ society whose members have a higher IQ than the 98th percentile, i.e. amongst the top 2% of the world. This is why Mensa is the most difficult exam in the world. The exam was founded in 1946 by the Australian barrister Roland Berrill and the British scientist and lawyer Dr Lancelot Ware at the Lincoln College in Oxford, England. There is no age barrier to appear or crack this examination and is open to all individuals from all nationalities. The youngest person to have been accepted to Mensa was Elise Tan-Roberts, who was 2 years and 4 months old at the time of acceptance.

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Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA is the most difficult exam in the world in the field of finance. It is a postgraduate-level exam certification program recognized in different countries in the world. Although it is not a degree program, it is a professional program offered to students who want to pursue their careers in the field of finance. The exam consists of three levels, it is designed to test Finance professionals about the necessary financial tools and techniques. Each level involves a complicated six-hour exam consisting of 240 questions. After clearing all three levels, a candidate also needs to gain 48 months of professional experience in order to earn the CFA charter by clearing CFA Level 1, CFA Level 2, and CFA Level 3. 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

If you are thinking of pursuing MS abroad, you may have to appear for the GRE depending on the requirements of your university. Majorly conducted to check the proficiency of candidates applying to study abroad, the GRE exam holds a lot of importance in the lives of those aspiring to pursue an international degree. It is mainly conducted for master’s level and PhD programs at higher education institutions. The test is divided into six sections.

Six sections include:

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Issues and Arguments
  • Research

The test can be taken online and offline depending on where you choose to study and appear for this exam. 

Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) 

The CCIE is one of the toughest exams in the world and is organised by Cisco Systems for higher networking professionals. The CCIE Certification was introduced to support the industry in identifying the top-ranking internetwork experts on a global scale and evaluating them on infrastructure and network design. The exam is divided into 6 parts and is conducted in two phases. The second stage exam is 8 hours long in duration and hardly 1% of the total number of candidates are able to clear it. 

Thanks for reading this blog on Can You Crack The Toughest Exams In The World? If you are interested in learning more about student life, courses, and international education, the following should be of interest to you: 

  1. The Best Distance Learning PhD Programs in the UK
  2. Which Are The Ten Best Scholarships For Adults Returning To College?
  3. Here Are The Top Training Scholarships For International Students

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