5 Most Difficult Exams in The World 2024: Testing Limits



06 March, 2024

5 Most Difficult Exams in The World 2024: Testing Limits

“A mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, JR.

Ever since our academic journey, examinations have been an integral part of it. There are tests in academia that are more than just exams. They are renowned for intellectual, persevering, and resilient struggles. These exams, both hated and admired in equal measure, act as doors to highly esteemed prizes and desired opportunities.

Every test has its challenges – from the exhausting Gaokao in China to the brain-twisting problems of Mensa. Those who dare to take them must possess an unapologetic dedication and an unbreakable spirit.

As they say, with great difficulty comes great reward. So, let’s check some of the toughest exams in the world and the strategies to crack them.

Here’s a List of Top 5 Most Difficult Exams

Exam Name Country Purpose
Gaokao China Entrance Exam for College
Civil Services Exam (CSE) India For the Position of Administrative Posts
Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) India For admission to PG programmes
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Worldwide For admission to MBA or MS Courses
Mensa Worldwide For membership in Mensa International in order to identify and foster human IQ for humanity.

Let’s study each of the listed exams in detail and know what they are about, their eligibility criteria, tips to crack them and so on.

1. Gaokao

The Gaokao is the benchmark of excellence for evaluating academic ability in China. This demanding test, which takes place for all high school students, determines millions of futures.

The Gaokao is a marathon of intellectual endurance covering areas like Chinese Literature, Mathematics, foreign languages, etc. Success or failure in it can determine a person’s entire life path. Students spend years studying, giving up social life and leisure time to aim for a score high enough to gain admission to a prominent University.

The exam, listed as one of the most difficult, is approximately 9 hours long and often takes 2-3 days. The stakes couldn’t be greater. The competition is fierce with immense pressure.

Eligibility: Students who have finished their final year of high school and want to study in China can take the Gaokao.


  • Plan and create a study schedule that includes all of your subjects.
  • Prioritise understanding concepts than mindless memorising.
  • Review previous exam papers to become comfortable with the structure and kinds of questions.
  • Get enough sleep, eat well, and practice mindfulness throughout the exam season.

2. Civil Services Exam

For anyone aiming for a career in public service, passing the Civil Services Exams opens the door to a world of power and responsibilities. Aspiring civil servants from nations such as the US, the UK, and India, have to pass a series of tests measuring their understanding of economics, politics, history, and administrative principles.

The competition is intense, the syllabus is extensive, and the admission rates are incredibly low. However, the benefits to those with perseverance are massive, the opportunity to influence legislation, bring about change, and further the common good.

Eligibility: There are different eligibility criteria for different countries. Applicants must be of a certain age and have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to sit for this difficult exam.


  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the exam design and syllabus.
  • Be informed about current affairs, governmental initiatives, and socioeconomic issues.
  • Increase precision and time management, practise the previous year’s questions and mock exams.
  • Gain excellent writing and analytical abilities, particularly for questions that resemble essays.

3. Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering is a tough test for aspiring postgraduates in engineering and technology. The GATE exam is conducted in India to assess a candidate’s analytical, problem-solving, and engineering concepts.

The exam includes a wide range of subjects, from computer science to mechanical engineering, and it involves thorough study and a sharp grip on foundational ideas.

For many, success in the GATE exam opens the door to highly esteemed graduate programs, well-paying employment, and the ability to use research and innovation.

Eligibility: Applicants must hold a master’s degree in any relevant field of science or be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree in engineering or technology.


  • Understand the material and exam format in detail.
  • Concentrate on basic concepts and regularly practise arithmetic.
  • Refer to defined textbooks and expert-recommended study materials.
  • Determine your degree of preparation and pinpoint areas of development, take regular mock tests.

4. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an essential milestone for academic success for individuals hoping to pursue graduate education in the US or any other foreign country.

With sections on analytical writing, quantitative analysis, and verbal reasoning, the GRE pushes applicants to show their capability to get into higher studies from premium institutions.

The GRE tests mental clarity and strategic thinking due to its complex questions, time limits, and adaptive storing system. A strong GRE score lays the road for future academic and professional success by providing access to graduate programmes at prestigious universities.

Eligibility: Since there are no set requirements for eligibility, candidates usually include people who are applying to graduate programmes.


  • Become familiar with the format and question types seen on the GRE.
  • Develop significant vocabulary and engage in frequent reading and comprehensive work.
  • Time management in the GRE is key. So, keep practising.
  • Use the internet, get coaching, and refer to GRE books for preparation.

5. Mensa

Mensa is the peak of cognitive achievement for academically brilliant and intellectually curious people. The top 2% of the population on standardised intelligence tests can attend Mensa International, a high-IQ group.

For applicants, the Mensa entrance exam, which consists of brain teasers and riddles, is a difficult hurdle to overcome. It distinguishes between actual geniuses and just brilliant individuals by emphasising logic, pattern identification, and creative problem-solving.

Joining Mensa grants access to a group of like-minded people who are committed to intellectual study and discovery, in addition to a sense of pride.

Eligibility: A person has to position in the top 2% on recognised intelligence tests, such as the Mensa exam, to be eligible for membership in Mensa.


  • Practise solving logic puzzles, identifying patterns, and cognitive tasks to help you get ready for the Mensa entrance exam.
  • Keep your cool and concentrate during the test, time management is key.
  • Participate in activities that improve your ability to think critically and solve problems.
  • Effectively prepare for the exam, create study groups, or ask expert members of Mensa for advice.


The most difficult examinations in the world are not just examinations of academic knowledge but also character, perseverance, and determination. However, the benefits are vast for those who dare to take this path. Therefore, if you ever find yourself under the challenge of passing one of these examinations, keep in mind that you too can overcome the impossible and be at the top.

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