Toughest exams in the world which are almost impossible to crack

world's toughest exams

Cracking any examination is a tough job. Specifically when it comes to competitive exams that happen to be all encompassing, the level of toughness definitely gets magnified several times. Here’s listing some of the toughest exams in the world that seriously need some kick ass intelligence for you to be able to crack them-

All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam, UK

An examination that picks just two ‘winners’ from among a draw of 80 examinees undoubtedly will have it all to be the toughest exam in the world. And that’s where the All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam aces it with its intelligence quotient. A result so rewarding- a seven year, full salaried fellowship at the prestigious Oxford University, this particular exam surprisingly will not bombard you with questions that require answers an extensive Google search will provide for. Instead the trick here lies in delivering wittily to very abstract questions that make up this four papered exam.

The level of toughness that this particular examination delivers on altogether is so tricky a stance that only a twentieth of the Oxford graduates who take the test get to continue the process. With more than a century old legacy that spans its origins way back in 1878, the All Souls Exam has candidate writing four essays on two general and two specific topics with three hours allotted for each paper. Typically held in late September, the exam encompasses two days and requires a deft imagination as well as extensive factual knowledge to manifest their claim to what is easily among the world’s best academic distinctions.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

Ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the toughest exam in the world, the Chartered Financial Analyst is a professional certification rather than any examination that renders you eligible for some course. Offered by the prestigious CFA Institute, the examination is conducted in three stages with both multiple choice based and subjective questions to check the aptitude of candidates pertaining to the fields of finance and investment. With a pass percentage of less than 20% in spite of there being no age restriction whatsoever in taking the exam, the CFA sure can a hard nut to crack for even the brightest of analytic minds out there.

Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, USA

The world’s toughest test, the most challenging wine examination to be precise, the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam is a name so tough to tackle that hardly have a handful of winemakers managed to ace it in their first attempt in its 40 year long history. Overseen by the Court of Master Sommeliers of the United States, taking the examination requires every candidate to first acquire the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Certificate for them to be eligible for the diploma.

A three tier test that features a verbal theory taste, service and blind tasting of wines, the toughness of the examination can be gauged from the fact that it has not been deemed mandatory to even attempt all three sections at once. Each tier are open to separate clearance but within a three year period, failing which examinees will need to re seat for each of the three parts. In fact it is the third stage at which most candidates falter as they are need to clearly identify and describe six different wines, as well as the region from where the varieties of grapes came from. Offered twice per year in the States and once in the UK, the Master Sommelier exam has a pass rate of just about 3-8% asserting its superiority as being a really strong wine to gulp!

Union Public Services Commission Examination, India

One of the most challenging examinations at least in India has to be the test that enable you to make it to the civil services of the country. Equally coveted by candidates from all fields and across diverse interests, what makes the Union Public Services Commission examination a tough pick is that it is rigorously extensive. Not just the preparation, even the entire duration of the examination spawns more than just a couple of months that demands extensive level of study and conceptual clarity, general awareness as well as a strong understanding and articulation of topics.

With a success rate as low as 0.1%- 0.3%, the UPSC can at least be the toughest exam at par with many others of the world in that it is equally tricky across all its stages. Whether it be the prelims, the mains or the interview, clearing the civil services to serve the country requires enormous dedication and steadfast resolution.

National Higher Education Entrance Examination or Gaokao, China

Gaokao or the National College Entrance Examination that is a prerequisite for every student in China to clear if they have to pursue higher studies is very much one of the toughest exam in the world. However, apart from the level of the test it is the considerable mental stress that this very exerting name demands that make it more distinctive.

Since 1977, Gaokao has been the determining factor for Chinese students at the undergraduate level in a test of their academic faculties that is at part with the US SAT or British A- level exams. Chinese, Mathematics and a foreign language make up the core papers for this exam, notorious enough for the considerable stress it puts on young minds right from their high school years. An annual phenomenon that has no restrictions on age for the examinees, Gaokao is a strenuous nine hour test that China’s Ministry of Education conducts over two days in June. Only a mere 0.2% of the successful candidates manage to get admission into the top universities of the country. In fact Gaokao is so much a tough test that even some foreign universities admit Chinese students on the basis of their NCEE score.

Chartered Accountant, India

toughest exam in the world chartered accountant
Source: Taxscan

The Chartered Accountancy examination that you need to crack to be a qualified CA in India is another really tough exam even by international standards. Conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India encompassing the Foundation, Intermediate and Final stages, the three tiered CA examination has a pass percentage of roughly about 10%. In fact it is the CA Final exam that happens to be the toughest among many similar tests in the world with an even lesser success rate among examiness.

Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination, India

Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination, India
Source: Pinterest

Among the toughest engineering entrance exams, the one conducted by the Indian Institution of Technologies (IITs) occupy prominence. Termed the Joint Entrance Exam, more specifically the IIT JEE, this is the test that engineering aspirants in India needs to clear for securing admission into the premier engineering institutions of the country, prominently the IITs. Perhaps what makes the JEE a considerably tough test is as much in its ratio of intake as it is in its analysis of skill and aptitude.

A two tier examination with the multiple choice question based JEE Mains and an all encompassing JEE Advanced, the IIT-JEE has an intake ratio of roughly some 1:60 thereby dictating that only the highest scoring few make it to the most elite institutions. However, it is the level of the JEE Advanced rather than the JEE as a whole that is regarded internationally as one of the most challenging undergraduate admission tests.

Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert, USA

toughest exam in the world Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert
Source: Cocheno

Accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certifications in the industry, the CISCO certification however isn’t the easiest of validations to obtain. Perhaps even the toughest networking exam in the world, skills of the candidates pertaining to planning, operation, troubleshooting of tough network facilities form the core of the test following which the successful ones emerge to be internationally certified professionals. A two tier examination that has an overall success rate of a mere 3%, the CISCO exam encompasses a written test as well as a practical one. The first stage is a two hour examination while the latter phase is even more strenuous, with a eight hour long grueling session of practicals that see just 1% of the examinees make it through.

Graduate Record Examination, USA

Graduate Record Examination
Source: Education & Career –

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a test that acts as a common entrance exam for higher education in all English speaking countries, most prominently the United States. Conducted by the Educational Testing Service since 1949, the GRE seeks to test the quantitative and verbal reasoning skills as well as analytic writing and critical thinking abilities of the aspirants. One of the most widely taken tests perhaps because of the scope of educational opportunities it widens, it is perhaps this intense competition that renders the GRE as being such a tough exam.

The exam follows an adaptive model, where the performance in each section determines the level of toughness of the following one. Available in both online and offline modes, the GRE is a recurring feature in a single year catering to the convenience of the examinees and rendering it as one of the most popular of entrance examinations in the world.


Listed by Glassdoor as being one of the world companies that boast of the toughest exam that can get you in, Nvidia conducts its recruitment test in a two phase process. While the first one is a written test, the interview stage is a very technical session of immense grueling tactics that serves to push your technical soundness to the extreme. Programming skills and assembly language problems are explored by the company renowned for being the inventor of the GPU or the Graphics Processing Unit.

College Scholastic Ability Test, South Korea


Perhaps South Korea’s equivalent of the Chinese Gaokao, and therefore somewhere near to the British A- level exams is the College Scholastic Ability Test or the Suneung. Considered to be one of the toughest standardized exams in the world, the Suneung is in fact a national graduation test for the South Korean students that paves their way for admission into the top universities of the country. High school graduates take this six session test every year in November that proves to be quite a tough take, considering that almost 20% of candidates retaking the test. The CSAT is in fact even tougher than the SAT exam of the States thereby explaining the considerable stress that this very essential examination causes to students in South Korea.

Mensa, UK

The toughest IQ exam in the world, the Mensa test conducted by the Mensa Society is distinctive on a number of counts. Mensa Society is the oldest and also the largest IQ organization in the world that boasts of members of all ages and nationalities who exhibit an intelligence score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardised, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.

A three part exam that puts to test fundamental patient-centered skills, ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principle that are important in health and disease, the 16 hour exercise of rigorous acumen is spread over two days each encompassing an eight hour test period. Undertaking the Mensa test also has enormous intelligence at stake- an entry into the coveted Mensa Society means you are definitely among the smartest people of the world.