Top 10 Toughest Exams in the World 2023

Exams are an essential part of the education system and have been used for centuries to measure the proficiency and knowledge of students in various subjects. Some exams, however, have gained a reputation for being extremely difficult and highly competitive. That is why we are exploring the top 5 toughest exams in the world in 2023.

These exams often require years of preparation and a high level of dedication. In this article, we will explore the top 10 most challenging exams in the world, focusing on the full 5 toughest exams.

How Can I Prepare for the Toughest Exams in the World?

Preparing for the world’s toughest exams requires determination, planning, and intelligent study strategies. Here are some steps to help you prepare effectively:

Research the exam

Understand the exam format, content, and requirements. Gather information about the topics, question types, and the overall structure. This will help you tailor your study approach to the specific exam.

Set a schedule

Determine your time before the exam and create a study schedule. Break down the material into smaller, manageable topics and allocate enough time to cover each. Stick to your plan and make adjustments as needed.

Identify strengths and weaknesses

Assess your current knowledge and skills to determine which areas you must focus on the most. This will help you allocate your study time more effectively.

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Use diverse resources

Seek out a variety of study materials, such as textbooks, online courses, articles, and video lectures. This will help you better understand the topics and expose you to different perspectives.

Develop critical thinking skills

Practice problem-solving, logical reasoning, and analytical thinking. These skills are crucial for tackling complex questions and understanding new concepts.

Practice, practice, practice

Work on as many practice questions and past papers as possible. This will help you familiarize yourself with the exam format and improve your time management skills.

Join study groups or forums

Collaborate with others who are also preparing for the same exam. Sharing knowledge, tips, and resources can be beneficial for everyone involved.

Seek expert guidance

Consider hiring a tutor or attending specialized courses to gain insights from experienced professionals.

Stay organized

Keep track of your study materials, notes, and progress. Use tools such as notebooks, folders, or digital apps to ensure you can easily access and review your work.

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Take care of your well-being

Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It’s also important to manage stress and take breaks when needed.

Review regularly

Review what you’ve learned to reinforce your understanding and prevent knowledge gaps.

Stay motivated

Set goals, track progress, and celebrate achievements. Stay focused on why you want to succeed in this exam and visualize your success.

Which Country has the Hardest Education?

It is challenging to definitively determine which country has the “hardest” education system, as educational systems vary greatly across the world, and the difficulty of education is subjective, depending on an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and personal experiences.

However, some countries are often mentioned as having rigorous and demanding education systems, including:


Finland consistently ranks highly in international education assessments such as the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests. The Finnish education system is known for its focus on equity, teacher training, and student well-being.

Although Finnish students do not have excessive homework or frequent standardized tests, the system’s overall quality and effectiveness make fostering deep understanding and critical thinking challenging.

South Korea

South Korea’s education system is known for its intense competition and high academic expectations. Students often spend long hours at school, followed by additional hours in tutoring sessions or studying independently.

The importance placed on education and the high-stakes nature of exams like the Suneung (Korean College Scholastic Ability Test) contribute to the system’s rigor and demands.

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Japan’s highly competitive education system values discipline and hard work. The pressure to perform well academically starts early, with students preparing for entrance exams to prestigious schools. The Japanese system is characterized by a strong emphasis on mathematics, science, and language skills, as well as structured learning and high expectations for students.


China’s education system is known for its emphasis on rote learning, discipline, and high-stakes exams such as the Gaokao. Students in China often face intense competition for limited spots at top universities and spend long hours studying to meet the system’s demands.


Singapore’s education system consistently ranks highly in international assessments and is known for its rigorous curriculum and high academic expectations. Students in Singapore follow a highly structured and demanding curriculum, focusing on mathematics, science, and languages.

These countries are often cited as having demanding education systems, but it is important to remember that the difficulty of an education system is subjective and depends on individual experiences and perspectives.

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Top 10 Toughest Exams in the World 2023

Remember, persistence and determination are key when preparing for the toughest exams in the world. Be prepared to put in the hard work, and you’ll increase your chances of success. Starting from the top 5 toughest exams in the world, below are the top 10 toughest exams in the world in 2023

1. The Gaokao – China

The Gaokao, also known as the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, is the most important exam in China. Held annually, it is a prerequisite for students seeking admission to universities in China.

The Gaokao is considered one of the toughest exams in the world due to its sheer volume of participants (around 10 million students annually) and the intense pressure it puts on students. The exam consists of Chinese, Mathematics, and English subjects and an elective subject based on the student’s preference. The Gaokao has a reputation for being highly competitive, as only a small percentage of students get admitted to the top universities in China.

2. IIT JEE – India

The Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT JEE) is considered one of the top 5 toughest exams in the world. This exam is conducted for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which are among the best engineering institutions in the world. IIT JEE comprises two stages: JEE Main and JEE Advanced.

The difficulty level of the exam, coupled with the vast syllabus and the intense competition, makes it one of the hardest exams to crack. Every year, around 1.5 million students appear for the JEE Main exam, but only around 10,000 students secure admission to the IITs.

3. UPSC Civil Services Exam – India

Another Indian exam that makes it to the list of top 5 toughest exams in the world is the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Exam. This exam is conducted to recruit candidates for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other prestigious government positions.

The UPSC Civil Services Exam consists of three stages: Preliminary, Main, and Interview. The exam is known for its comprehensive syllabus, which covers subjects such as history, geography, politics, economics, and general knowledge. With an acceptance rate of less than 0.1%, the UPSC Civil Services Exam is one of the most competitive exams globally.

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4. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam – Global

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam is considered one of the most challenging professional exams in finance. The CFA Institute administers the exam and consists of three levels. Each level tests the candidate’s knowledge in various areas, such as investment tools, asset classes, and portfolio management.

The CFA exam is known for its rigorous preparation, vast syllabus, and high failure rate, which contribute to its position in the top 5 toughest exams in the world. The average pass rate for all three levels is around 55%, with Level 1 having the lowest pass rate of approximately 43%.

5. Mensa Admission Test – Global

Mensa, the largest and oldest high-IQ society globally, conducts an admission test to identify individuals with exceptional intelligence. The Mensa Admission Test is considered one of the top 5 toughest exams in the world due to its complexity and the stringent criteria for admission. To qualify for Mensa membership, candidates must score within the top 2% of candidates must score within the top 2% of the general population on an approved intelligence test.

The Mensa Admission Test consists of multiple sections that evaluate various aspects of intelligence, such as logical reasoning, verbal ability, numerical ability, and spatial awareness. The difficulty level of the test and the strict qualification criteria make it one of the most challenging exams to pass.

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6. California Bar Exam – United States

The California Bar Exam is considered one of the toughest bar exams in the United States. It is a mandatory exam for law school graduates who wish to practice law in the state of California. The exam consists of three parts: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the California Performance Test (PT), and the California Essay Questions (CEQ).

The California Bar Exam is known for its rigorous testing format, which covers a wide range of legal topics, and its low pass rates, which hover around 50%. The difficulty level and the competitive nature of the exam make it one of the toughest exams in the world.

7. All Souls College Fellowship Exam – United Kingdom

The All Souls College Fellowship Exam is one of the world’s most difficult and prestigious exams conducted by the All Souls College of the University of Oxford. The exam is designed to select candidates for the highly coveted Prize Fellowships, which provide an opportunity to pursue independent research at the college.

The All Souls College Fellowship Exam consists of four papers, including two general papers and two specialist papers, which test the candidate’s analytical and critical thinking skills. The acceptance rate for the Prize Fellowships is less than 1%, making it one of the most competitive exams globally.

8. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – United States and Canada

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized exam required for admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada. The exam tests the candidate’s knowledge in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology, along with critical analysis and reasoning skills.

The MCAT is known for its comprehensive syllabus, rigorous preparation, and high-stakes nature, which contributes to its reputation as one of the toughest exams in the world. The MCAT is a highly competitive exam with an average acceptance rate of around 40% for medical schools in the United States.

9. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam – United States

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam is a professional examination for individuals seeking licensure as certified public accountants in the United States. The exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

The CPA exam is known for its vast syllabus, which covers a wide range of accounting and financial topics, and its low pass rates, which are around 50% for each section. The rigorous preparation required and the competitive nature of the exam make it one of the toughest exams globally.

10. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – Global

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test used by many graduate schools and business schools worldwide as part of their admission process. The GRE consists of Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

The exam assesses the candidate’s critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. The GRE is known for its challenging questions, particularly in the Verbal Reasoning section, and its high-stakes nature, which adds to candidates’ pressure. With millions of students taking the GRE annually, it is considered one of the toughest exams in the world.

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The top 5 toughest exams in the world, including the top 10 toughest exams, are known for their high difficulty levels, comprehensive syllabi, and intense competition among candidates.

These exams often require years of preparation, unwavering dedication, and intense mental fortitude to overcome the challenges and secure a successful outcome. Candidates who crack these exams are often considered among the best in their respective fields, and academic institutions and professional organizations highly value their achievements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the toughest exam in the UK?

One of the hardest exams to pass is now the Law National Aptitude Test in the United Kingdom. Oxford University created the top law exam to choose the top candidates for admission to the school. There is a reading section and an essay section on this 2.5-hour test.

Are exams easier in the UK or USA?

The American educational system places less emphasis on exams. Until secondary school graduates, pupils must continue studying the general topics. When Grade 12 ends, they finally receive their high school certificate. That corresponds to Year 13 in the UK.

Which country has the hardest exams?

Gaokao Exam – China.
IIT JEE Exam (Joint Entrance Exam – Indian Institute of Technology) – India.
UPSC Exam (Union Public Service Commission) – India.
Mensa – England (found)
GRE (Graduate Record Examination) – United States.

Which country is easier to study?

Canada, Germany, and Australia are a few of the top nations for international students wishing to study abroad and reside there after graduation.



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