18 Toughest Entrance Exams in the World

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 11:22

An entrance exam is conducted by educational institutions to select prospective students for admission. It may be held at any stage of education, from primary to tertiary, even though it is typically held at tertiary stage.

The university entrance exam considered as the sole criterion for admission into tertiary education, is a 4-hour multiple-choice test regarding most of the core courses that the high school graduates have been taught during a period of four years study in high school. Although this test has been administered for more than four decades, different changes have been made in its content and format of administration. However, some critics firmly believe that the UEE needs to be either thoroughly revised or totally eliminated.

Here is a list of toughest entrance exams and interviews all around the world, RankRed reported in 2016.

18. Mensa:

Mensa is the oldest and largest high IQ society in the world. To enter this nonprofit organization you will need to have one thing – intelligence within the top two percent of the world’s population, in other words, an IQ of 132 on the Stanford-Binet scale.

17. LNAT:

National admission test for law (LNAT) is an entrance test for law universities in United Kingdom. It was established at the leading urgency of Oxford University as a solution to the problem facing school trying to select from an increasingly competitive pool with similar high A-levels. There are 9 law universities that take admission through LNAT, conducted at hundred of test centers worldwide.

The candidate is given 2 hours 15 minutes to complete an essay and 42 multiple choice questions aimed at logical reasoning and reading comprehension. Most of the questions are open-ended topics usually about student related issues or other familiar subject matter. The essays are individually marked by checkers at the respective universities.

16. GRE:

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a common exam for seeking a seat in all English speaking countries, especially American Graduate Schools. It’s a standardized exam created and administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Service) in 1949.

The exam measures your quantitative and verbal reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills. The exam is adaptive on section-by-section basis, which means performance on the first section will determine the difficulty of the second section presented. The duration of exam is 3 hours 45 minutes, including 1 minute break after first and second section, and a 10 minute break after third section.

15. College Scholastic Ability Test:

College Scholastic Ability Test (or CSAT) is a standardized test accepted by South Korean universities. CSAT if often described as “the chance to make or break one’s career”. About 20% student re-apply for the exam. It is usually conducted in November and on the exam day, stock markets open late, government employee are allowed to be late so that they don’t cause traffic jams. Even, airplanes are grounded so the noise does not disturb the students.

14. Google:

Nowadays, Google isn’t hiring the stereotypical, hoody-wearing programmers with massive intellects. They tend to hire people with emotional intelligence who can work as a team.

To get into Google, you must be able to process on the fly, make decisions regarding the problems you have never seen before, and you should be able to stand up and get your voice heard in a productive way. And of course, computer algorithms and programming languages are the most important skills on which you will be judged. There is no hard and fast rule how long will be the interview process. However easy this may sound, this isn’t a piece of cake, as only 1% of applicants get hired.

13. Nvidia:

Nvidia develops Graphic Processing Units for gaming market as well as system on a chip units for the mobile computing. ccording to Glassdoor, it is one of the top 25 companies that give toughest job interviews.

Getting selected is a two phase process. The first one is written test that covers topics like finite state machine, pipelining, cache organization, digital CMOS design and C programming concepts. The next phase is technical interview. They do not focus on the formalities like what certificates you have but rather they focus on how technically strong you are. Usually, a lot of emphasis is made on basic assembly language problems (based on any microprocessor).

12. CAT:

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted every year by Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for selecting students for their business administration programs.

CAT is a 3 hour exam that tests your quantitative ability, reading comprehension, data interpretation, verbal ability and logical reasoning. Every year, more than 200,000 students apply for CAT exam and only 1500 get admission in IIMs.

11. GATE:

GATE stands for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, conducted by Indian Institute of Technology every year for admissions to various post-graduate education programs.

The exam is designed to test the comprehensive understanding of several undergraduate subjects in engineering and science. It’s a 3 hour exam that contains 65 question worth a maximum of 100 marks.

10. NASA Astronaut Candidate Program:

The NASA accepts application for the position of astronaut candidate on an as needed basis. Even if you are a topper of university, have attended plenty of space camps, are an accomplished rocket scientist, you still have to wait for NASA to need more astronauts.

Along with your degree, you must have followed your time as a student by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or minimum 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. This is a week long process of personal interviews and medical screening. The orientation is required for both civilian and military candidates under final consideration. Once selected, the complete background investigation will be performed.

9. LSAT:

The LSAT (stands for Law School Admission Test) is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada, Australia and a growing number of other countries.

The LSAT is designed to measure 3 skills – reading comprehension, logical and analytical reasoning. The exam consists of total six sections: four multiple choice section, one writing and one experimental section. It is conducted four times a year, however, a candidate is allowed to appear not more than 3 times within a two year period.

8. UPSC:

The India’s central agency Union Public Service Commission is responsible for conducting various exams for many government jobs. It conducts the Indian Forest Service examination, Civil Services examination, Engineering Services examination, National Defence Academy examination, Combined Medical Services Examination and lots more.

Most of the exams under UPSC test verbal and logical reasoning. They held in a preliminary phase at first where candidates face objective questions and then the main phase where they appear for subjective questions, and then an interview process. The success rate is flimsy 0.1 – 0.3 %.

7. USMLE Series:

USMLE stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards.

The exam is divided into 3 part process that tests fundamental patient-centered skills, and ability to apply knowledge, concepts and principle that are important in health and disease. The step 3 is the most difficult phase. It’s a 16 hour examination divided over 2 days, each day of testing should be completed within 8 hours. There are total 454 multiple choice questions (256 on first day and 198 on second) and candidates get maximum 1 hour to rest each day.

6. Gaokao:

Gaokao is National Higher Education Entrance Examination held in China. The exam is essential to get into almost all higher education institute at the undergraduate level.

The exam duration is 9 hours and it is conducted over a period of 2 days. Mathematics, English and Chinese literature are compulsory for all students. Only 0.2% students get the top five colleges of the country. In order to maximize results, students put their extreme effort – some female students take hormones to delay their menstrual cycle until after the test.


The Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination was first conducted in 1960. IIT test is replaced by two phase exam – phase one is JEE Mains and phase two is JEE Advanced. Only the candidates selected in JEE Mains are eligible for appearing in JEE Advanced. Out of every 1,300,000 students appearing, only a handful of 20,000 gets selected every year, and this makes it one of the toughest exams in the world.

4. McKinsey & Company:

McKinsey & Company is a management consulting firm that conducts quantitative and qualitative analysis in order to evaluate management decisions across worldwide private and public sectors.

To get into McKinsey, you need face an interview, which is all about your skills and experience. The selected candidates will be asked to give one-hour online exam, which is designed to test your verbal and mathematical reasoning. The next phase is Experience Interview, where you will be asked about your past experiences, accomplishments and challenges you have faced. The last phase is Case Interview: they will check your problem-solving skills by discussing a real McKinsey business problem with you.

3. Master Sommelier Diploma Examination:

The first Master Sommelier exam was held in the UK in 1969, and since then fewer than 250 candidates have been selected. You can’t guess how selective authorities could get while selecting candidates. The exam is divided into three processes – theory, service and practical testing. The last process is the toughest one. It is scored on the candidate’s verbal abilities to clearly identify and accurately describe six different wines. They even have to identify the grape varieties and country of origin.

2. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam:

Oxford University’s All Souls College seeks to elect Prize Fellows every year. The collage selects only two from the field of fifty or more candidates. Until 2010, the students were required to write a long essay about one word given in paper, for example Hope, Miracles, Novelty. The exam has four papers, three hours each. One needs to have factual knowledge as well as imaginative mind to clear the exam.

1. CA:

The Chartered Accountancy Exam is conducted in India, designed to combine theoretical study with practical training. A candidate can apply for membership after passing all three levels of examinations conducted by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and completing three years of practical training.


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