Top 5 competitive exams in India

Exams are usually the gateway to a better place. Be it your dream career, a particular course in a highly reputed institution, or something that fills your soul, the most important stage is a qualifying exam you will have to clear to move forward. For some, it’s something that they want to forget and for others, exams give a sense of achievement. In this article, we are going to list out the 5 most competitive exams that happen in India.

UPSC Civil service exam

There is no question about what comes first on this list. UPSC civil service exam is one of the toughest and most competitive exams in the country. The exam happens once every year and is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission of India (UPSC). It is a candidate’s gateway to the prestigious Indian civil services, which include services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian forest Service (IFS), Indian Foreign Service, etc. 

Each year, around 10 lakh candidates appear for UPSC civil service exams, out of which only a thousand gets selected. The minimum eligibility to appear for the process is to have an undergraduate degree from any recognised university. The process involves three stages. Namely, the prelims, the mains and the interview round. The prelims stage is just a qualifying round. Only the other two rounds will be considered for the final selection. Once the selection process is over, UPSC will recommend the selected candidates to the central government. 

It’s not just the toughness of the exam that makes the UPSC civil service exam the most competitive exam in the country, but also the number of students appearing for it each year when compared to the vacancies available. 


In a country where everyone wants to be an engineer, there is no need for me to tell you what JEE is. The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) is a national level engineering entrance conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admissions to engineering colleges in the country. All prestigious institutions in the country including the IITs, NITs, VIT, BIT consider JEE scores for admissions. But that’s not it, JEE is attempted by students who wish to take up courses like Architecture as well. It is internationally regarded as one of the most competitive exams in the world and is attempted by almost all engineering aspirants in the country, every year.

JEE involves two different exams. JEE mains and JEE advanced. JEE mains involves 2 papers. Paper 1 is for admissions to BE and Btech colleges while paper 2 is for admissions to BArch colleges. Those who beat the cut off in JEE mains will qualify for JEE advanced. 

Each year, around 10 lakhs students appear for JEE Mains. But the country’s premium institutes have only a few thousand seats to offer. So, a very small percentage of those who appear for the exam makes it to these institutes. And considering the state of engineering students in the country today, it is very important to make it to those colleges. This makes JEE really competitive. 


How to become a doctor? Go for MBBS. Everyone knows that. But how to get an affordable medical seat in India? NEET is the answer you are most likely to get.  The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET (UG)) is a national level medical entrance test conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). Admissions to all government and merit seats of most private medical and dental colleges in the country is based on the ranks obtained in NEET. It is one of the most prestigious entrance exams happening in the country and the medical aspirants of middle class India heavily depend on this entrance test for admissions. 

Unlike JEE, NEET is a single test. It consists of 45 questions each from the branches of Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. The questions will be from the CBSE syllabus of 11th and 12th. Those who clear the exam will be called for counselling round in various colleges, based on their rank. 

Last year, around 15 lakh students appeared for NEET exams, nearly 2lakhs more than the previous year. But the number of medical seats available in India is just around 75000. So, only a small proportion of the students appearing for the exams will be able to secure a seat. And because of this, NEET is considered to be one of the most competitive exams happening in India. 


MBA is the new big thing around the world. The opportunities this course can open up for an individual is immense. But it’s not just about taking an MBA, but about doing it in the best institutions. For MBA aspirants in India, IIMs are their best bet. These autonomous institutions that are aided by the HRD ministry of India are known for its academic excellence. So, getting to study there is a dream for most MBA aspirants in the country. Now, how to get there. CAT is the key.  

Common Entrance Test (CAT) is a computer based aptitude test conducted by the IIMs on a rotational basis for admissions to management programs. Other than the IIMs, many other reputed business schools in the country such as Amity Business School, Noida, Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, Delhi, Birla Institute of Management Technology, (BIMTECH), Greater Noida, etc accept CAT scores for admissions. The test involves three sections, namely, Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR), Quantitative Ability (QA). The test assesses a candidate on the scales of Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC), Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR).

Chartered accountant (CA) Exam.

Most of us grew up hearing that CA is one of the most competitive courses to do. The pass percentage and the portions the course covers have made CA exams one of the toughest in the country. People spend years trying to break the loop of trying and failing, to finally reach a career that earns them success and money at the same time. 

But unlike the other competitive exams I mentioned above, CA is actually a professional course towards becoming a chartered accountant and involves a series of exams. It involves 3 stages, the prelims, the intermediate course and CA finals. Please checkout this link to know more about CA exams in detail.


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