The Most Difficult Exam to Pass, Ranked

Choose the exam you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jul 14, 2024 06:30
Deciding which exam ranks as the most challenging can be a daunting task, as various qualifications test a wide range of skills and knowledges. By gathering collective insights on the difficulty of these examinations, individuals looking to prepare for any of them can better set their expectations and study strategies. This site allows users to cast votes on the exams they believe are the toughest, contributing to a dynamic list that reflects public opinion. Through your participation, you help provide a clearer picture for all, guiding future test takers in making informed decisions about their educational and professional pursuits.

What Is the Most Difficult Exam to Pass?

  1. 1


    Union Public Service Commission's Civil Services Examination in India, one of the toughest exams for government positions.
    • Phases: 3 (Preliminary, Mains, Interview)
    • Candidates: Over 1 million annually
  2. 2

    Mensa IQ Test

    An intelligence test used by Mensa to qualify members, requiring a score within the upper two percent of the general population.
    • IQ Requirement: Top 2% of the population
  3. 3

    Master Sommelier Diploma Exam

    An examination for wine professionals, requiring a deep knowledge of wine theory, service, and tasting.
    • Sections: 3 (Theory, Service, Tasting)
    • Pass Rate: Approximately 10%
  4. 4


    The National College Entrance Examination, a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level in China.
    • Duration: 9 hours over 2 days
    • Subjects: Chinese, Mathematics, English, and either Sciences or Humanities
  5. 5
    CFA Exams

    CFA Exams

    Chartered Financial Analyst examinations, a series of three exams required to obtain CFA Charter, known for its low pass rates.
    • Levels: 3
    • Pass Rate: Approximately 40% for each level
  6. 6


    United States Medical Licensing Examination, a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States.
    • Steps: 3
    • Purpose: To assess a physician's ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles important for the provision of patient care
  7. 7

    Chartered Accountancy Exams (ICAI)

    The examination for becoming a Chartered Accountant in India, known for its comprehensive coverage of various aspects of accounting and taxation.
    • Levels: 3 (Foundation, Intermediate, Final)
    • Pass Rate: Less than 10% for the final level
  8. 8
    JEE Advanced

    JEE Advanced

    Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced, an Indian examination used for admission to various engineering colleges, including the prestigious IITs.
    • Eligibility: Top 250,000 rankers of JEE Main
  9. 9
    French Foreign Legion Basic Training

    French Foreign Legion Basic Training

    The rigorous selection and training process for entry into the French Foreign Legion, known for its physical and mental challenges.
    • Duration: 15 weeks of basic training
    • Success Rate: Roughly 10-20% of applicants are accepted
  10. 10

    CCIE Certification Exam

    Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert exam, a series of technical certifications for senior networking professionals.
    • Pass Rate: Less than 3% on first attempt
    • Format: Two-part: a written exam and a lab exam

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult exam to pass. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or exam is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 0 votes
  • 10 ranked items

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Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each exam once every 24 hours. The rank of each exam is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More about the Most Difficult Exam to Pass

The most difficult exams are known for their low pass rates and high standards. To understand why these exams are so tough, one must first consider their purpose. They often aim to filter out only the best candidates for critical roles. These roles require a high level of knowledge, skill, and judgment. Therefore, the exams are designed to be challenging.

Preparation for such exams is intense. Candidates often spend months, or even years, studying. They need to master a vast amount of material. This material can cover both theoretical and practical aspects. Theoretical knowledge involves understanding complex concepts. Practical knowledge requires applying these concepts in real-world scenarios.

The format of these exams adds to their difficulty. They may include multiple-choice questions, essays, and practical tests. Each format tests different skills. Multiple-choice questions assess quick thinking and recall. Essays test the ability to articulate thoughts clearly and logically. Practical tests evaluate hands-on skills and problem-solving abilities.

Time management is another challenge. These exams have strict time limits. Candidates must work quickly and efficiently. They need to balance speed with accuracy. This balance is hard to achieve under pressure. Many candidates struggle to complete all sections within the given time.

The psychological pressure is immense. The stakes are high. Passing the exam can open doors to prestigious careers. Failing can mean starting over or giving up on a dream. This pressure can affect performance. Anxiety can cloud judgment and slow down thinking.

Support systems are crucial for success. Many candidates join study groups. They share resources and help each other. Some seek guidance from mentors. These mentors have passed the exam before. They offer valuable insights and tips. Others enroll in specialized courses. These courses provide structured learning and practice tests.

Despite all this preparation, many candidates do not pass on their first attempt. The pass rates are often very low. This low success rate is a testament to the exam's difficulty. However, those who do pass often agree that the effort was worth it. The exam not only tests knowledge but also builds resilience and determination.

In conclusion, the most difficult exams are not just tests of knowledge. They challenge a candidate's ability to think, manage time, and handle pressure. They require intense preparation and support. While the journey is tough, the rewards for passing can be significant.

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