10 Toughest entrance exams in India

    Get a sneak peek into the ten toughest entrance exams for admission into India’s best colleges and the courses you need to work on to clear them.


    Toughest Entrance Exams to crack in 2017.
    Toughest Entrance Exams to crack in 2017.

    The Indian education system is often lamented for quality, yet it is also home to some of the best and world class institutions for every sphere of study. Be it for engineering, business management or scientific research, India has exemplary institutions which produce great professionals every year. However, entry into these hallowed educational institutes is not an easy journey and they demand admission through a rigorous entrance examinations and we have listed the top ten toughest entrance exams to crack –

    UPSC- Civil Services exams

    A ‘Collector’ or a ‘Commissioner’ is usually the first important government posts that Indians come across the country. The Government of India functions across different departments providing services to its citizens, these civil services come under three main categories – Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Forest Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS). The recruitments to these services are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) through a series of examinations. Touted as one of the world’s toughest examination, the candidates have to write a Civil Services Preliminary Examination, known colloquially as Prelims. It consists of two segments – General Knowledge and Aptitude Test. Following this is the Mains or Civil Services Main Examination, it comprises of nine papers of essay type questions. At the end is the personality test or the face to face interview post which the results are declared. The next Civil Service Preliminary Exam will be conducted on June 18, 2017.


    The Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination or simply the JEE as it is officially known is the common examination for entrance to the 23 IITs in India. These premier institutions take admissions based solely on the JEE results making it one of the most important exams. It is also one of the toughest exams as out of the 12.07 lakh students who registered for the exam in 2016, the seats up for grab were only 10,575! The JEE is conducted in two phases – JEE Mains and JEE Advanced. The JEE Mains is for admission to the NITs, IIITs and other Centrally Funded Technical Institutes (CFTI). But for admission to IITs is only through JEE Advanced and one can write the JEE Advanced only after clearing the JEE Mains. The last date for JEE registration is 16th January 2017, the Pen and Paper exams will conducted on April 2, 2017 while the Computer Based exam will be conducted on April 8th and 9th 2017. The JEE Advanced will be conducted on May 21, 2017 and about 2,00,000 students are expected to be shortlisted for the same.


    The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) is literally the gateway to admissions into post-graduate courses in Engineering and engineering jobs in the public sector. It is one of the toughest entrance examinations and only the top percentiles get admissions into the IITs for the courses. The marks are given on a percentile basis meaning it is a relative score to the number of students who write GATE, and in 2016 8,18,850 students appeared for the examination and only 16.53% qualified. Financial Assistance is also provided to candidates who have qualified GATE, currently the UGC and MHRD offers upto Rs. 12,400 per month as scholarship to the qualified students. Unlike IIT there is no common counseling; candidates have to apply to each university separately with their GATE score. The next GATE will be conducted through an online format on February 4th and 5th 2017 and February 11th and 12th 2017.

    CAT: Common Admission Test

    The Common Admission Test (CAT) is the entrance examination for admissions into the prestigious IIMs. MBA or PGDM is one the most sought after post-graduate program in India by candidates from all academic backgrounds and IIMs are the most coveted institutions of all. Currently, there are 20 IIMs across India which take admissions through CAT apart from the hundreds of other institutes which use CAT as an admission parameter for entrance to their business programs. From 2011, even the IITs and IISc use the CAT instead of their Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET) for entrance to their business courses. CAT is a computer based test and tests the student on the basis of 3 sections through 100 objective type questions – Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI and LR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). The marks are scored on a percentile basis which is a relative grading, in 2016 CAT has a record 7-year high registration of 2,32,434 applicants. The next CAT will be held in December 2017.

    AIIMS Entrance Exam

    All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is the ultimate goal of every MBBS student studying to become a doctor. It is an institution which was setup nevertheless by an Act of Parliament in 1956 as an autonomous institution of national importance. It is the premier medical hospital and institute, pioneering medicine technology and innovation in India. AIIMS conducts examinations for its MBBS course as well as other courses that it offers like B.Sc. Para Medical Course, B. Sc. Nursing, M. Biotechnology, Fellowship and PhD programs. The entrance examination for MBBS is the toughest among entrances in India. In 2016, 1,89, 357 candidates appeared for the exam, of which 7,137 qualified and 2,000 were called for counseling for only 672 seats! Even of these 672 seats only 337 are unreserved, rest are for OBC, SC and ST candidates. There are 7 AIIMS centres – New Delhi, Patna, Bhubhaneshwar, Jodhpur, Raipur, Rsihikesh and Bhopal. The next MBBS entrance exam will be conducted on May 28th, 2017.

    NID Exams

    National Institute of Design is the country’s premier most institute for research into Industrial, Communication, Textile and IT Integrated (Experiential) Design. In fact it was declared an ‘Institute of National Importance’ by the Act of Parliament, by the virtue of National Institute of Design Act 2014. No wonder then that is the most coveted for design students across India. It currently conducts academic programs for Bachelor of Design (B.Des.), Master of Design and Graduate Diploma Program in Design. These programs are conducted across 3 active campuses in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Gandhinagar while campuses are coming up in Kurukshetra, Vijayawada and Jorhat. DAT or the Design Aptitude Test is conducted in two phases – Prelims and Mains for admissions to the NID programs. The prelims is a pen and paper test over 3 hours conducted to test creativity, visualization, knowledge and comprehension. The Mains has studio tests plus interviews for admissions. The next DAT Prelims will be conducted in January 2018 and DAT Mains in March 2018.


    NEET or the National Eligibility and Entrance Test is one of the newest and controversial entrance exams in India. NEET was proposed as a unified entrance exam for all the medical/MBBS seats across India in 2012 as a replacement to the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT); however the Supreme Court ruled this out. In April 2016, another ruling recalled it and CBSE successfully conducted the NEET on July 24, 2016. The NEET has separate entrance exams for UG and PG courses. NEET exam will be followed by a common counseling for 15% seats in All India quota for all medical and dental colleges, although the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and J&K have opted out of the exam. Currently there are 426 MBBS colleges offering 63,835 medical seats under NEET. The exam is a pen and paper test which is objective type questions based and has 180 questions covering subjects – Physics, Chemistry and Biology (Botany & Zoology). The next NEET will be conducted in July 2017.

    UGC – NET

    Teaching the next generation of students is no mean feat and the University Grants Commission (UGC) has started a unified National Eligibility Test to ensure quality! The UGC- NET is conducted every year for determining the eligibility of Indian candidates for position of Assistant Professor and for the Junior Research Fellowship. All the top universities in India take students in based on the UGC – NET for research and in pursuit of their PhD. Even several public sector undertakings have started to consider UGC -NET scores for their recruitment. The UGC-NET is conducted over a mind boggling 100 subjects and has 3 papers all written on the same day. Paper I is designed to assess the teaching aptitude of the candidate while Paper II and Paper III are based on the subjects chosen by the candidates, all the papers are objective type based questions. This is only the first step of the exam, after this a merit list will be announced by the UGC and the top 15% will be eligible only for the Assistant Professor. A separate formula calculates the JRF eligibility. The next UGC NET will be conducted on January 22, 2017.


    The aspiring lawyers are not spared from entrance exams either and the Common Law Admission Test is used to test the aptitude of candidates. There are 18 National Law Universities (NLU) which admit students through this entrance exam however not all the universities have accepted the CLAT, notably the NALSAR (Hyderabad) and NLIU (Bhopal) have opted out of CLAT. The test scores are also accepted by several other colleges which consider it a benchmark score. The test is conducted for both LLB and LLM programs. It is a computer based test and is for 200 marks with objective type questions covering English, General Knowledge & Current Affairs, Elementary Mathematics, Legal Aptitude and Logical Reasoning. Post the announcement of results an online centralized counseling will be done based on which the students will be admitted to the courses. The  next CLAT will be conducted on May 14, 2017.

    NDA – Combined Defence Services Exam

    The National Defence Academy is a unique institution not just in India but the world, being the only tri-service academy which churns out cadets for the Army, Navy and Air Force. The UPSC conducts the exam on behalf of the NDA, the Combined Defence Services Examination. But the admission is not solely based on the CDS, it is followed by a series of interviews by the Services Selection Board (SSB). These interviews test the general aptitude, psychological ability, team skills and social skills as the armed services require strengths a league apart from the general citizens. The classes start in two semesters July and January. While only male, unmarried candidates are allowed to write the exam more than 4,50,000 candidates apply every year for 320 seats in the academy. Post the 3 years program, candidates are sent to respective academies. The next CDS will be conducted on February 5, 2017. So, do you feel ready to take on the challenge and crack toughest entrance examinations? Sample papers for government entrance exams like these are often easy to work on, if, you have already gone through multiple aptitude assessment In case you are looking for an entry into the best corporate jobs, we have an aptitude test that will take you to the big leagues – AMCAT!




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