TOP 10 Entrance Exams in India [WHAT and HOW]

Posted on February 23, 2011 in Learning+

By Swati Parvatham:

In India, career is one very important issue that gives both children and their parents many a sleepless nights. What career to choose, how to get to the best institution ensuring a bright future in the chosen career and finally how to prepare oneself for the entrance exams are few questions that create a storm in the minds of the candidates.

Here is a small attempt on our part to give the students an idea about the major entrance exams that are conducted in the country and their respective details.

1) Common Admission Test (CAT):

Common Admission Test, better known as CAT is an all- India test conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) to shortlist the best managerial brains from all over the country for its 7 (seven) business schools. But the results of this exam are the benchmark for many other business schools in the country as well.

It is now a computer based exam with multiple choice questions to test the aptitude of the candidate in Mathematics, English and Data Interpretation (Logic based questions). The pattern of this test is such that it can test the students’ proficiency with the fundamentals of the subjects they are tested on.

Since CAT 2009 it has been announced by the IIM’s that there will be 60-70 questions. The test taker will have 2 hours and 15 minutes to attempt the test. A 15 minute tutorial will be given to familiarize the test taker with the computer test taking environment.

The announcement for CAT 2010 came out in the papers on 22nd August, 2010 and CAT vouchers were available from 30th August to 27th September, 2010.

For further information related to CAT, please refer to the official website of CAT (

2) Xavier’s Admission Test (XAT):

XAT is another reputed management entrance exam conducted by the Xavier’s Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur in the month of January every year for admission in its post graduate management courses. The results of this exam are not only considered for admissions by XLRI and Xavier’s Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB) but also by more than 70 other B-schools.

The test paper for XAT has been divided into 3 parts-

  • Reading Comprehension and English,
  • Quantitative Ability
  • Data Interpretation and Reasoning and
  • An Essay on the topic assigned

The time limit for this test is 2 hours for the multiple choice questions and 20 mins for the essay section.

The strategy for testing the candidates in CAT & XAT varies from year to year based on the discretion of the body setting the paper. There is negative marking in these exams, the pattern of which varies almost every year.

The eligibility criteria for appearing in this examination is a minimum of 50% marks in graduation. Final year students can also apply provided they deposit a provisional certificate.


Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are world class institutions offering courses leading to Bachelor’s degree in a number of engineering, technological and scientific disciplines. M.Sc. Integrated courses in pure and applied sciences and M.Tech. Integrated courses in a few disciplines are also offered by some of these Institutions. In addition, some IITs offer Dual-Degree M.Tech. programmes, wherein both B.Tech. and M.Tech. degrees are awarded.

There are 15 IITs all over the country and the admission selection to the undergraduate courses is done through the all India Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) which tests the students on their aptitude in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

There will be two question papers, each of three hours duration. Both the question papers will consist of three separate sections on Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. The questions will be of objective type, designed to test comprehension, reasoning and analytical ability of candidates. The answers for each of the questions are to be recorded on a separate, specially designed, machine-gradable sheet of paper (ORS — Optical Response Sheet).

The online application process starts around November each year and the test is conducted in April. The Architecture or Design Aptitude Test for students interested in courses in Architecture is conducted in June.

The minimum marks in the qualifying examination (MMQE) for writing the JEE will depend on your category. It is 60% for GE/OBC and 55% for SC/ST/PD category.

The detailed syllabi for the test along with the other details are clearly mentioned in the official website (

4) All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE):

All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE)  is conducted each year around the month of April- May to churn out the best of candidates for the B.Tech & B.Arch/ B.Planning in various institutions, namely National Institutes of Technology, IIITs, Deemed Universities, Technical Institutions, Delhi Technological University, Delhi and other Govt. funded Institutions.

A centralized online counseling is organized after the examination for filling up the All India seats by the Central Counseling Board. Some states or institutes like West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab University, Chandigarh, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, Delhi Technological University, Delhi and N.S.I.T, Delhi under Delhi University use AIEEE ranks to fill seats through their own counseling.

The test is conducted with two 3-hour papers on the same day. Paper 1 consists of Objective Type Questions with equal weightage to Physics, Chemistry & Mathematics and is mandatory for students interested in courses in B.E./ B.Tech and Paper 2 is sub-divided into a) Mathematics b) Aptitude Test and c) Drawing Test and is for students interested in B.Arch/ B. Planning. Part a and b of Paper 2 also consist of objective type questions while for Part c questions are designed to test the candidates’ drawing aptitude.

The eligibility criteria for appearing the examination are given in details in their official website (

5) All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Medical Entrance Exam:

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) conducts a separate exam for admission to their MBBS course. Every year a large number of candidates (more than 80,000) apply for MBBS course in AIIMS for nearly 70 seats which makes it one of the most difficult entrance examinations.

The application forms for this examination are available tentatively around mid-january and the exam is held somewhere around June every year.

To get admission in MBBS course in AIIMS a candidate should have attained 17 yearsof age by 31st December of the previous year and also has to pass class 12th with atleast 60% aggregate in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English. For SC/ST candidates the minimum aggregate required is 50%.

The entrance exam for MBBS is of three and a half hours duration having 200 multiple choice and reason-assertion type questions. There are 60 questions each from Physics, Chemistry and Biology and 20 questions from General Knowledge. There is negative marking for incorrect answers.

Further information is available from the official websites (,

6) Common Law Admission Test (CLAT):

The Common Law Admission Test is an all-India law entrance conducted by 11(eleven) National Law Universities for admissions to their under-graduate and post graduate degree programmes (LL.B & LL.M).

Institutes That Participate In The Entrance Exam
National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU)
NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad (NALSAR)
National Law Institute University, Bhopal (NLIU)
The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (WBNUJS)
National Law University, Jodhpur(NLU)
Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur (HNLU)
Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar (GNLU)
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow (RMLNLU)
Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala (RGNUL)
Chanakya National Law University, Patna (CNLU)
National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi (NUALS)

For the undergraduate programme, it is a 200 marks papers with 200 questions testing the candidate on English including Comprehension (40 Marks), General Knowledge/Current Affairs (50 Marks), Mathematics (20 Marks), Logical Reasoning (45 Marks) & Legal Aptitude/Legal Awareness (45 Marks).

For the LLM course, the paper is of 200 marks spread over 2-hours. 100 marks consists of objective type questions testing the student on sunjects like Law of Contracts, Law of Torts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Legal Theory; while the next 100 marks is for writing 2 essays of 50 Marks each.

The eligibility criteria to appear for undergraduate programme through CLAT-2011, a candidate should have passed his/her Higher Secondary School/Intermediate Examination (10+2) or its equivalent examination with not less than 50% marks in aggregate (45% in case of SC/ST/OBC and persons with Disability). Candidates who have appeared in the 10+2 examination and are awaiting results are also eligible to appear in the test.

The eligibility to appear for 2-year L.L.M. Degree course, a candidate should have obtained a LL.B/B.L. Degree or an equivalent degree from a recognised University with not less than 55% marks in aggregate (50% in case of SC/ST /OBC and persons with Disability).

The application forms for CLAT are available from January and the test is held around May.

7) Graduate Record Examination (GRE):

GRE is a standardized admission test offered as a computer-based, computer adaptive exam administered by selected qualified testing centers and it is mandatory for admission in many graduate schools over USA and other English speaking countries across the world.

Created and administered by Educational Testing Service (or ETS), the exam aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study.

The cost of the general test varies between US $160 and $210, depending on the country of taking the test. The FRE test results are valid for a period of 5 years from the year fo taking the examination after which the records are erased by ETS.

There are a number of preparatory materials available online that are greatly helpful for preparing for the exam.

8 ) Graduate Management Test (GMAT):

GMAT is a computer adaptive standardized test that is mandatory for admission in most B-School outside India for the business administrative programmes like MBA, Masters in Accountancy etc.

It is conducted once or twice a year depending on the location of the test. As of September 2010, the fee to take the test is US $250 worldwide.

It tests the candidate on verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that the examinee has developed over a long period of time in his education and work. Test takers answer questions in each of the three tested areas, and there are also two optional breaks; in general, the test takes about four hours to complete.

Scores are valid for five years (at most institutions) from the date the test taker sits for the exam and the maximum score that can be achieved on the exam is 800. Yet the average scores that are required for selection in most of the top B-schools is between late 600 to early 700. But it is possible to overcome low scores through extraordinary extra-curricular achievements.

9) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL):

TOEFL is an internet based test that measures the ability of an individual to use English as a language in the academic setting. It is considered as a must for candidates applying to English native colleges, universities and public sector settings from non- English speaking countries.

The test is conducted many times a year at many locations across the world and the results of the test are valid only for a period of 2 years from the year of appearing for the test. Yet, most colleges and universities only consider the most recent TOEFL results.

Now the test can be taken within one to four weeks in most countries. The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills — Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing (while some tasks require integrating multiple skills) and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment. The test cannot be taken more than once a week.

The details about the registration and other assistance can be available from their website (

10) Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT):

SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. It is conducted by the College Board in USA to test the readiness of a student to enter college so as to ensure his academic level is fit for college level studies. In other words, it measures the literacy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in college. It is mostly taken by high school pass-outs in USA and from all over the world who want to take admission in any college in USA.

The three hour and 45 minutes test judges the test taker on how well they analyze and solve problems–skills they learned in school that they will need in college. SAT consists of three major sections: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. Each section receives a score on the scale of 200—800. All scores are multiples of 10. Total scores are calculated by adding up scores of the three sections. The questions range from easy, medium, and hard depending on the scoring from the experimental sections.

The questions are all multiple choice questions with 5 options to choose from. Negative marking of 0.25 is there for each wrong answer.

The SAT is offered seven times a year in the United States; in October, November, December, January, March (or April, alternating), May, and June.

So here we come to the end of this highly informative article. Now it is solely on the candidate to choose which exam they want to appear in and which way to take their career.