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Tips to Prepare Ethics Paper for UPSC Mains

Nov 02, 2021

Tips to Prepare Ethics Paper for UPSC Mains

GS paper IV of UPSC Mains, titled Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude, is an easy yet tricky paper that aspirants write. Easy because this subject has less syllabus as compared to other subjects. Tricky, as there is no good book thoroughly explaining the basics of the subject. In addition to this, there is vagueness and unpredictability in the Ethics syllabus.

Moreover, most candidates don’t have an Ethics background as there is no particular undergraduate course related to Ethics. Hence, a smart approach during UPSC exam preparation is paramount for scoring well in the exam.

In this article, we will be sharing some valuable tips that will serve as a guiding light for the Ethics paper preparation. But before we proceed further, let’s look at what the UPSC expects from the candidates while writing the paper.

The official UPSC syllabus for the subject states that “This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects.”

Importance of Ethics Paper

Since the future IAS officers would be a part of the Indian administration and would be directly involved in the policy formulation and implementation, they need to have strong moral values, especially, Ethics and Integrity.

Moreover, the paper is considered a rank booster. With minimal effort, aspirants can score good marks.

Syllabus of General Studies Paper IV of UPSC Mains

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants, and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators; the role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker sections.
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations, and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on the above issues.

Also read: How To Stay Motivated Throughout Your UPSC Preparation Journey

Effective Tips to Prepare for Ethics Paper

Here are some practical tips to prepare for the exam and ace it:

Understand the Basic Terms: Aspirants should acquaint themselves with the basic terms such as Attitude, Aptitude, Emotional Intelligence, Integrity, Probity, Transparency, Accountability, etc. Try to use and relate these terms with your personal experiences in the answers.

Use relevant examples: If you don’t have any real-life example or anecdote, use hypothetical situations in your answers with the relevant terms and values to make them more appealing.

Develop the habit of Reading: You can only fetch extra marks if you quote relevant and good examples in your answers. That can only be done if you are a voracious reader. Make it a point to read newspapers daily and excerpts from books related to Statesmen, Corporate Leaders, Administrators, etc.  

To make the answer more appealing, include the examples and theories of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world like Gandhiji, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle etc. 

Practice Answer Writing: It is the most crucial component of Ethics preparation. While the answers can be written in both points or paragraphs, depending on the question, the ideal answer should include the following:

  • Introduction
  • Answer Body
  • Moral Theory (If relevant)
  • Examples
  • Diagrams
  • Conclusion

Related article: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

Focus on Case Studies: Practice case studies as much as you can. As compared to the theory part, case studies bring out the ethical dilemmas and logical reasoning sharply. Learn the format as there is never a set answer for a case study. The format is as listed below:

  • Actors
  • Dilemmas
  • Answer body
  • Keywords
  • Theory
  • Diagrams
  • Conclusion

Refer to Previous Year’s Questions: Past year questions will give you an idea about the type of questions asked in the exam and will assist you in drafting your answers accordingly.

Recommended Books for Ethics Preparation

The below-mentioned books are valuable learning resources for Ethics paper preparation. Refer to these books to get an edge in your preparation:

  • Well-structured Video Lectures and notes by Atul Garg, available on PrepLadder
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.
  • Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by G. Subbarao.
  • NCERT Psychology book Class XI & XII: Syllabus-specific chapters

We hope you will now be able to prepare for the Ethics exam effectively after reading this article.

Preparation for the UPSC Civil Services examination is now easier with PrepLadder, the most comprehensive preparation resource for the Civil Services aspirants. It has everything you need to ace UPSC on one single platform.

This includes concise, effective, and well-planned video lectures by our Dream Team for UPSC, a well-structured and high yield QBank, highly competitive PrepTests based on real exam patterns, and Previous Year Papers in the form of tests

So, what are you waiting for? Start your UPSC Exam preparation with PrepLadder and enjoy quality learning like never before.  

All the best for your exam. Stay tuned to our Telegram Channel for more updates. 

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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