Updated at: 02-03-2023 - By: Eden Wise


The value of a solid education is only going to increase as time goes on. Keeping this in mind, it is fascinating to observe how the world’s most rigorous examinations are administered in various educational systems. It’s difficult to quantify the value of a school or university without resorting to subjective judgments. One approach is to examine how the best schools in each country administer their respective exams. Nonetheless, this provides us with only a partial picture. When evaluating a school’s performance, it’s important to look at more than just test scores.

Universities’ performance and post-university opportunities are crucial factors to evaluate. Another important question to ask is whether or not students are ready for the real world when they graduate.

Can they find satisfying employment? When it comes to their career, do they have the tools they need to succeed? There is no simple formula for determining an educational system’s efficacy. Here is a list of some of the world’s most challenging examinations to give you an idea of what to expect.

Top toughest exams in the world

IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination)

IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination)

Do you think the IIT test is the most difficult in the world? The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which is required for admission to the Engineering programs at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), is a notoriously difficult test. In 2019, there were approximately 10 lakh people who applied to take JEE, but only 13376 spots at the IITs. The acceptance rate is extremely low, hovering around 1%. When you factor in the enormous test material and the sheer unpredictability of the questions on the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), you have a recipe for one of the most challenging exams in India and the world. Candidates who do well on the exam are eligible for the Siemens Scholarship, which can be used to pay for a four-year degree in engineering at an accredited university.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam is widely regarded as the most challenging and demanding of its kind. One hundred and fifty thousand people from over one hundred different countries take the CFA exam each year. It consists of three parts and is meant to test the knowledge of finance experts on various topics. There is a 240-question, six-hour exam at the end of each level. Passing CFA Level 1, CFA Level 2, and CFA Level 3 is only half of what’s needed to earn the CFA charter; the other half is 48 months of relevant work experience.

GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India)

To qualify for entry into master’s degree programs in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, applicants must take the GATE, a national level online examination testing their knowledge of Engineering, Mathematics, Science, and General Aptitude. The GATE is accepted by many prestigious Indian universities, including the Indian Institutes of Technology and Science (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) (for fellowship programmes). Additionally, GATE scores are considered for scholarship opportunities at some universities in Germany and Singapore. Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and numerical questions (Qs) are included in this single exam.

UMSLE (The United States Medical Licensing Examination)

UMSLE (The United States Medical Licensing Examination)

As required by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), students who wish to practice medicine in the United States must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). In order to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care, doctors are put through a rigorous three-part test that measures their ability to put theory into practice. Once an examination has been passed, the holder of that license is authorized to engage in a variety of healthcare activities.

California Bar Exam

The state of California administers the highly competitive California Bar Exam to college grads in order to select new members of the Bar Society. A passing score on the LSAT is required, and the test is given twice yearly, in February and July. A score of 144 is required for passage, making it the second-highest threshold in the United States. In 2018, nearly 60% of examinees were unsuccessful in passing the examination. The state of California also wants to make this three-day exam easier by developing more accurate metrics for reducing the minimum passing score.

Gaokao Exam in China

In order to enroll in an undergraduate program in China, you will need to take one of the most difficult exams in the world. During their senior year of high school, students take the Gaokao (). The dates are typically in the range of June 7–8. It takes place over the course of two or three days (depending on the province) and lasts around nine hours.

Only about 0.25 percent of Chinese students are able to achieve the required GPA to enter the country’s most prestigious universities. Some universities in the United States and Europe now recognize Gaokao scores despite the exam’s reputation for difficulty.

The test has also become a viral hit on the web. On average, there are 14,000 monthly searches for “Gaokao exam” online.

But why is it that the Gaokao test is so challenging? A Chinese student has the correct solution to this problem. Children from disadvantaged families are encouraged to study hard for the exam because it is their only chance at entering China’s equivalent of the Ivy League universities.

“Pretend you’re a kid from China’s working class who dreams of making it to the upper class on your own, and you know that your best chance is to do well on this exam. There are 20 million students who are eligible to take the exam, but only 150,000 will gain admission to the elite schools that serve as China’s equivalent to the Ivy League.

A Quora user warned that if students didn’t take the upcoming exam very seriously, they would end up with low scores and waste an entire academic year.

High school students who “need” to do well on the Gaokao in these circumstances often find the test particularly difficult.

Despite the difficulty of the test, many students still do well. A Chinese family’s children all performed exceptionally well:

The older Zhao Zhenxing and the younger Zhao Zhenhua both earned admission to the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the former with a score of 664 and the latter with a score of 654. Zhao Zhenzhong, the middle brother, scored 674 out of a possible 750 and was offered early admission to Peking University.


Every person who scores in the top 98th percentile or higher on an official intelligence test can join the international organization Mensa. This means that you need to be in the top two percent of test-takers on an objective, standardized IQ test before you can join Mensa.

Given a mean score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, the lowest possible score to enter Mensa is 130.

The reasoning, problem-solving, and logical abilities of the test taker will be evaluated.

Are there a lot of hoops to jump through to join Mensa? Don’t take that literally! As one Quora user put it:

Is it simple to reach up and touch a normal-height ceiling? If you’re a tall person, sure.

How hard is it to join Mensa? If your IQ is 132 or higher, it’s a piece of cake.

CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert)

CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert)

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) credential is a technical certification for network engineers provided by Cisco Systems.

This exam has two parts. A two-hour written test is required before candidates can move on to the eight-hour practical test. Installation, configuration, and troubleshooting are all discussed.

A CCIE certification will set you back about $2,050. There is a $450 fee associated with taking the CCIE written exam. About $1,600 is required to take the lab portion of the exam. Once earned, a CCIE certification remains valid for three years. If you successfully complete the recertification requirements, your certificate will remain valid for an additional three years.

It is estimated that only about 55,000 people in the world have achieved certification. Every year, around 8,000 people try to pass the CCIE lab exam. The CCIE exam has a 26% average pass rate, per Cisco.

With 25,000 monthly searches, CCIE continues to be a hot topic and one of the most sought-after certifications in the industry.

Exam for the Master Sommelier Diploma

To encourage better beverage service by sommeliers, especially with regard to wine and food pairing, the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) offers a certification exam called the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. This test is meant to promote better beverage knowledge and service throughout the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, and bars. Only 10% of test takers pass (on average, and often after trying multiple times).

There are three parts to the examination: theoretical knowledge, actual service, and blind tasting. In contrast to the average applicant, who may pass the wine tasting exam on their fifth or sixth try, the expert will need at least three tries. In the final stage, applicants must attest that they have the necessary knowledge to identify the vintage, region, and exact day that the wine was produced. As a result, it’s the toughest evaluation of wine in the entire world. Since it was first held in the United Kingdom in 1969, only 269 men and women have won it.

Before moving on to the other two parts of the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination (Practical Restaurant Wine Service and Salesmanship; and Practical Tasting), students must pass the first part, “Theory,” of the exam within three years. Students who only succeed in one or two sections this year will be required to retake the sections they did not pass within the next two years. In the event that all three components are not returned within that time frame, the entire examination must be taken again.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a very difficult test designed to evaluate candidates for study abroad programs. Most foreign universities use it for their master’s and doctoral degree programs. Since this test is accepted by a large number of schools in the United States, thousands of students study for and take it each year. Taking the GRE is a necessary step for many students who dream of studying in a country other than their own.


The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) administers a standardized test called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) on a computer. It is widely used in medical education in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the Caribbean. There are four parts to the MCAT: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.

LNAT – Law Admission Test 

LNAT - Law Admission Test 

Some law schools in the United Kingdom require prospective students to take the Law Admissions Test (LNAT). This elaborate examination is not meant to gauge academic prowess but rather to test a candidate’s aptitude, in particular their verbal reasoning abilities.

Due to the wide variety of skills tested, passing the annual examination has become increasingly challenging. The LNAT has two parts and takes close to three hours to complete. In Section A, you have 95 minutes to answer 42 multiple-choice questions. In Section B, there are three essay questions, and the candidate has 40 minutes to choose one and write an answer to it.


What is LNAT?

The University of Oxford administers the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) to prospective law students.

How many students take the UPSC Exam in India?

Approximately 5 lakh people take the Prelims, with less than a thousand available spots.

How long is the GATE exam and what type of questions are present in it?

There are a total of 65 questions to be answered over the course of 3 hours, with 10 representing “general aptitude” (verbal and numeric). The remaining 55 questions are also technical in nature, but are based on the candidate’s preferred paper.

What is CCIE ?

It is widely acknowledged that Cisco Systems’ Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert certification exam is among the world’s top ten most challenging exams. There are a total of six distinct parts to this test, which are given in two distinct phases. Only those who have successfully completed the first stage will be allowed to move on to the second. Fewer than one percent of students make it through the 8-hour long second stage exam.


The vast majority of applicants face substantial challenges when studying for any of the aforementioned exams. These tests are undeniably among the most difficult in the world due to their complex nature and elevated level of difficulty. Do you plan on taking any of the world’s most challenging tests? Soar to new heights in your academic performance with the help of our Leverage Edu tutors, who will equip you with all the background information and test-taking strategies you need to ace your upcoming exams.