Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US

Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US

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Discover the pinnacle of academic challenges with our list of the top 10 hardest exams in the US. Explore the reasons behind their formidable reputation and the factors that make them some of the most demanding assessments in various fields. From law and medicine to engineering and finance, delve into the world of rigorous examinations that shape the paths of aspiring professionals.

Passing rigorous exams demonstrates in-depth knowledge and high-level skills. While any test requires dedication, some exams are renowned as the Hardest Exams in the US due to the intensity of study and preparation needed.

Why Are These Exams So Difficult?

Depth and Breadth of Content

These exams cover extensive subject matter, often spanning years of study. From intricate legal precedents in the Bar Exam to complex medical concepts in the USMLE, candidates must showcase in-depth understanding and application.

Critical Thinking

Many of these exams assess not only knowledge but also the ability to think critically and apply concepts in real-world scenarios. The GMAT’s integrated reasoning section and the NCLEX-RN’s clinical judgment questions exemplify this demand.

Pressure and Duration

The time constraints of these exams add an extra layer of challenge. From the intense two to three days of the Bar Exam to the multi-step format of the USMLE, the pressure to perform consistently over extended periods can be overwhelming.

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High Stakes

The outcomes of these exams often have significant consequences. Passing the Bar Exam is essential to practice law, the USMLE determines medical licensure, and CPA certification is a cornerstone of an accountant’s career. The weight of these implications amplifies the stress and difficulty.

Adaptive Testing

Some exams, like the GRE and GMAT, utilize adaptive testing, adjusting the difficulty of questions based on the candidate’s responses. While this tailors the exam to the individual’s ability, it also demands adaptability and resilience.

Ethical Considerations

Exams like the USMLE and NCLEX-RN include questions that assess a candidate’s ethical judgment in addition to their knowledge. Balancing medical expertise with ethical considerations is a unique challenge in these fields.

Practical Application

The shift from theoretical understanding to practical application is a significant hurdle. The EIT and PE exams, for example, require engineers to demonstrate their ability to apply principles to real-world scenarios.


The limited number of available spots in prestigious programs or professions intensifies the competition. This drives candidates to push their limits to stand out among their peers.

Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US

This article explores the Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US that assess expertise, command of complex subject matter, and capability to perform under pressure.

1 Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE)

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is widely considered one of the Hardest Exams in the US for its vital role in granting a medical license. Aspiring doctors must pass this three-step gauntlet assessing medical knowledge, clinical skills, and ability to practice unsupervised. With a fail rate of up to 30% and high stakes for medical careers, the marathon USMLE is the gold standard among the Hardest Exams in the US.

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2 CPA Exam

Earning certified public accountant (CPA) credentials requires passing the Uniform CPA Examination – one of the Hardest Exams in the US. The four-part CPA Exam spans auditing, business concepts, financial accounting, and regulation with only about a 50% pass rate. Aspiring accountants devote hundreds of grueling study hours to conquer this hurdle among the Hardest Exams in the US.

Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US

3 FE Exam (Engineering)

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is a rite of passage for fledgling engineers among the Hardest Exams in the US. Earning the professional Engineer in Training designation requires demonstrating proficiency in subjects like chemistry, thermodynamics, engineering economics, and electronics through this 6-hour, 110-question trial by fire.

4 CFA Exam

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam has earned notoriety as one of the Hardest Exams in the US with fewer than 45% making the cut. Earning the prestigious CFA charter requires passing three successive 6-hour exams on ethics, quantitative methods, corporate finance, portfolio management, and more. The CFA exam’s intensity places it firmly among the Hardest Exams in the US.

5 NCLEX (Nursing)

The NCLEX nursing exam is required for anyone pursuing a license as a registered nurse. With a demanding test blueprint and challenging format, the NCLEX is designed to identify the most competent nurses. With a passing rate of 88%, the NCLEX remains among the Hardest Exams in the US for nurses.

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6 GRE (Graduate School)

While no walk in the park, the GRE exam earns a spot among the Hardest Exams in the US due to the high score standards among top graduate programs. Perfecting math, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing skills through competitive scores takes months of intense GRE test prep.

7 LSAT (Law School)

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) serves as the gateway to law school and legal careers. The lengthy reading comprehension and logical reasoning questions put LSAT-takers through their paces. Raising scores to gain admission to elite law schools solidifies the LSAT among the Hardest Exams in the US.

8 NAVLE (Veterinary)

The rigorous North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) earns a top spot among the Hardest Exams in the US for aspiring veterinarians. With a median pass rate of just 78%, this comprehensive test assesses clinical knowledge and judgment under pressure. Intense studying is required to pass the NAVLE.

9 GMAT (Business School)

The GMAT exam presents another hurdle among the Hardest Exams in the US for its role in graduate management programs. Nearly 7 in 10 test-takers fail to reach the coveted 700+ scores expected by elite business schools. Balancing math, verbal, integrated reasoning, and analytical writing skills challenges every aspiring MBA student.

Top 10 Hardest Exams in the US

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10 MCAT (Medical School)

Given its importance for medical school admissions, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) deserves its notoriety among the Hardest Exams in the US. Studying for solid MCAT scores in physical sciences, verbal reasoning, and biological sciences requires months of diligent preparation. With medical school dreams on the line, the MCAT stands among the Hardest Exams in the US.

While passing any of these 10 Hardest Exams in the US requires determination and perseverance, overcoming these rigorous tests reaps immense rewards in launching careers. The key is diligent study preparation and perseverance to demonstrate your mastery despite the difficulty and stakes. With grit and commitment, earning a passing score on even the Hardest Exams in the US is attainable.

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