Ethical Competence Rather than Knowledge of Ethics

UPSC had introduced the GS Paper-4 i.e., the Paper on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude in 2013 only. Even if the Paper happens to be a newbie, preparing for it whole heartedly, would only serve to push your rank higher. Even little preparation (as compared with other Papers) made with sincerity is going to result into a good score.

It’s so because it’s your ethical competence rather than the knowledge of ethics that UPSC values more. As per the instruction of UPSC for the Paper, it will comprise questions to assess your attitude as well as your approach towards various issues concerned with the common public that employ qualities of integrity and probity.

Tips and Strategies to Score High

Though you might devise your own strategies to prepare for the Paper, the tips given below would definitely add to your efforts, making them successful to a considerable extent.

  • Problem solving approach: It’s the approach to solving various problems and resolving the conflicts in order to serve the society that counts more rather than a mere knowledge of the ethics gained from the books, howsoever elaborate it might be. Questions in the Paper might also make use of a case study approach to assess a candidate’s capability as a bureaucrat concerning all these perspectives.
  • Your preparation strategies should cultivate Integrity and Probity: It’s noteworthy that as UPSC tests the problem solving skills of the future bureaucrats, the perspective plays a decisive role in letting you decide the manner of preparation for the Paper. Thus, it sets down almost everything that is required to be considered in order to score well in the paper. Apart from the problem solving ability, the Paper also assesses qualities like Integrity and Probity of various candidates.
  • A clear understanding of social issues definitely helps: Thus, it obviously implies that the candidate needs to cultivate and further develop the ability to be pragmatic so that his problem solving approach employs the solutions that are practically feasible. Besides, the candidate should be thoroughly aware of the major issues and the problems pestering the society at large. Apart from an alert and aware mind, a proper use of the keywords as and when required would serve to enhance the score further. And needless to say, a thoroughly crystal clear understanding of the social issues not only allows a keen insight into the various causes and consequences of a problem, but also helps forming the relevant solutions.                                                            
  • Read a few chosen books repeatedly, rather than a chunk of them: As your approach counts more as compared with the knowledge that you might have gained from the books, it’s advisable to keep the list of the books simple and concise. But, it does not imply by any means that a logical approach alone would suffice! You would be required to study.

You would find the list of the books and the study material given below quite helpful:

(i)Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude– G. Subbarao

(ii)Citizen Centric Administration – ARC Report

(iii)Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – Civil Services Chronicle


* Yojana, Kurukshetra

*NCERT Psychology book Class 11th and 12th.

*Biographies of famous personalities

  • How to Prepare for the Different Sections?  The Paper is divided into two sections. Here’s how you may prepare for each of them.

The GS Paper-4 consists of two sections – Section A and Section B. Each of the sections carries 125 marks.

The questions included in the Section A are theoretical. Thus, your study of various books would be useful while answering them. These questions are usually of applied type in nature. Section B is based on questions based on case studies.

Thus, it’s obvious that though you have to depend on reading books to answer Section A, it’s a better approach that will count while answering Section B. Reading the newspapers regularly would help you gain a sharp insight into what’s taking place around you. Thus, you would find yourself better acquainted with various government schemes, apart from many other socio-political and economical developments etc., taking place at various platforms. It would also help you develop an ethical mindset.

It’s a good idea to answer a competent Test Series, more so when it comes to case studies. It would give you a knack of answering the Paper, making it easier for you when you actually answer the GS Paper-4 in the Mains.

Finally, It’s best to go through the entire syllabus thoroughly. Rather than getting the books hoarded on your study table, read the chosen ones repeatedly. Solve the previous years’ question papers. It would be sensible if you take a note of all the keywords that you find repeated frequently in the course of several years. Besides, cultivating a good flair for writing and a style of writing that helps you answer the questions in a manner that fetch marks while making use of flow charts, diagrams etc., as and when required would help you score an edge over the competition. And that’s what that matters!

Moreover, don’t forget that apart from the Essay paper, and the Optional papers, it is the GS Paper-4 that can practically help you score well if you opt for a smart approach while preparation. So, it’s only advisable to strategize well, prepare well and score the maximum.

You Can Also Read:

A Few Quick Tips For IAS Preparation
Top Trickiest Questions Asked in IAS Interview
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Free IAS Coaching by Jai Bhim MukhyaMantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana

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