One of the first things that students facing the Civil Service exam need to know is that the ‘Ethics’ paper is not only about ethics but also about integrity and aptitude. GS Paper-4, titled Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude, was launched as part of the core reform syllabus of the 2013 Civil Service Examination.


This paper will include questions to check the aspirant’s attitude and approach to topics relevant to integrity, probity in public life, and his problem-solving approach to the different issues and conflicts he encounters in dealing with society. Questions may use the case study approach to describe these aspects.


This paper is mainly divided into two parts. Section A, the first part of these two sections of 125 marks each, mainly deals with the theoretical questions of the type commonly applied in these sections. But in the second part consists of case studies that can relate more locally. Because one thing to watch out for the most is both sections need specific strategies to move forward.


One thing to note most is that there is not a single good book that authentically explains the basics, because the syllabus itself can be so widely interpreted. Moreover, the absence of a perfect course on these subjects results in a lack of in-depth background.


Scoring marks in ethics papers is very important. It is based on self-awareness and the ability to project oneself as a practical and productive person while committed to personal and professional ethics. The general nature of the ethics papers is like the questions which are to be solved using our common sense. Never expect anything in the way of direct questions.


Well graded in the Ethics Paper is the sine qua non to be featured in the final list and to have the service you deserve. Like the essay paper, this paper also provides maximum returns. One can get good marks with very little effort.


The detailed preparation of this paper also leads to the inclusion of a moral aspect to the answers in GS Paper-1, 2, 3 papers, and also in the essay paper. This also helps to come across like a person who has the ideal characteristics of a civil servant in the personality test.


So let us find the qualities that will be tested in this paper

  • Attitudes towards integrity and the possibility of public life.
  • Approach related to integrity and potential in public life.
  • A Problem-solving approach to the various problems and conflicts he faces when interacting with society.


The real purpose of this paper is to examine students’ attitudes toward general things. This paper mainly examines how students who reach a higher level make wise decisions. For this, UPSC uses case-studies as well as the other types of questions.


For eg, in 2014 UPSC asked about your approach to troubleshooting migration-related issues (Question No. 14). You will find that this has nothing to do with your morals, but UPSC relies on your problem-solving attitude to the challenges around you.


In addition to questions that test your problem-solving approach, you can also expect questions that test your attitude. For example, the UPSC may test your attitude by asking for a case study that assesses whether you are right or wrong in corruption.


When trying to find answers to questions about ethics and analyzing them, one must first understand the concepts of ethics (including the difference between morality and ethics). Different levels of ethics need to be understood. Moreover, human values ​​are also an important issue and, therefore, know the difference between morality and values.


Let us look where we should focus on Ethics


The inclusion of questions about values in the ethics paper, the interrelationship between morality and ability, and other related theoretical concepts is contrary to all expectations. Another amazing thing is that there is no question of a committee or legal provisions in the ethics paper.


Therefore, there is an urgent need to devise specific strategies for scoring in the ethics paper. You should focus on learning more about the philosophical basis of the ethics paper at an early stage. Here, it is important to focus on developing an understanding of the terms and ideas of ethics and values.


And the most important thing is to study ethical principles rather than gaining external knowledge about the relationship between them and the administrative framework.


Since the main purpose of this paper is to assess the integrity of an individual, it is essential to convey and evaluate your perspective on things in a variety of ways and behaviors. This should not be done by focusing on just one subject, but on all subjects instead. Of these, the purpose of civil services and public organizations is the most important.


It is also important to understand why things are valued. A moral perspective cannot be developed through study alone. You need to understand and develop the art of free reasoning. An independent rational thought refers to impartial thinking about things. When our thoughts are not partial, they are based on a moral attitude, which is the essence of morality.


You should understand that section B section of the ethics paper cannot be dealt with without a solid theoretical basis. But it does not make sense for you to think that this session does not require you to study the theoretical aspects of ethics.


It has already been said that subjective answers are required in Session B. In Session B, you will be asked questions that test your integrity and intelligence. These are not only available through book reading, however, similar questions may be obtained from many places, but only sensible answers will be considered in the exam.


Your performance in category B mainly depends on your clarity of thought and understanding of critical ethical issues. Therefore, we Vedhik IAS Academy highly recommend that since the IAS Mains have some time available, the aspirants should spend time building an understanding of the moral issues and principles.


Syllabus for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude


Here are the main things to include in the ethics syllabus. They need to be clearly understood and a little research is done on them. This will help you to think differently and score in the exam.


  • Ethics and the Human Interface: Essence, Determination, and the Consequences of Ethics in Human Activities; Measurements of morality; Ethics in private and public relations.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation to thought and behavior; Political attitude; Social understanding, impact, and inspiration.
  • Human Values – Lessons from the Life and Teachings of renowned and great leaders, Reformers, and Rulers; The role of family, community, and educational institutions in implanting values.
  • Passion and core values ​​for the civil service, integrity, impartiality, impartiality, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance, and sympathy for the puny sections.
  • Emotional Intelligence-Concepts and their applications and utilities in governance and administration.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and around the world.
  • Public / Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration: Status and Issues; Ethical concerns and crises in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations, and conscience as sources of moral guidance; Responsibility and moral governance; Strengthening moral and ethical values in governance;
  • Ethical issues in public affairs and financing; corporate governance.
  • Probity of government: the concept of public service; theory of governance and probity; knowledge
  • Government sharing and transparency, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizens
  • Charters, the culture of employment, consistency of service delivery, utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on the problems listed above.


Let us go through more details about this


Grab the Keywords on Syllabus: The GS Paper IV Syllabus of Ethics is the main reference on what we should study for this paper. It is essential to understand the syllabus first. Then only the keywords mentioned in it can be understood and used in exams. The examiner must understand the perspective of examining your paper. Read the syllabus and mark the important keywords from each unit to understand the need of each section.


Answer writing is always better than just reading: Ethics is a game of answer writing and visual presentation, unlike the other three GS papers. It is significant to develop your answers with a balanced view on a variety of topics rather than academic knowledge.


Learn about current circumstances to get different viewpoints: It is recommended for the Ethics Paper to read limited books and rather to establish personal points of view on current issues. One way is to analyze and debate topics about which you cannot stand with your peers.


It will help you understand contrasting or varying points of view and come to a more rounded conclusion. Write down the ethical answers, write down what you believe in, and practice as a public servant. If you trust in what you’re saying, it’ll be clear.


Write specifically with facts: Your responses to case studies will be something that you can do and implement as a potential bureaucrat. Their practicality is just as critical as being ethically right. In addition to being ethically right, the proposals should be morally correct. They should be in accordance with the ethos of our constitution.


Start preparing a separate answer structure for case studies & general questions: Case studies sharply expose our ethical dilemmas and critical thought rather than the theoretical section. The target of case studies is to train you for field experience.


When you join the public service, you will face situations in which conflicting beliefs clash. So one of the key pieces of advice is to put yourself in the shoes of the administrator and consider yourself a problem solver. So one of the key pieces of advice is to put yourself in the shoes of the administrator and consider yourself a problem solver.


Better to practice flowchart and diagram: Character traits using flowcharts and diagrams provide concise and clean responses to certain topics, such as emotional intelligence, good governance, and civil service principles. Prepare these flowcharts and diagrams in advance and sync them to mock tests so that they are easy to use in the final test.


Time is precious, monitor it while writing answers: Among aspirants, there is a tendency to spend excessive time studying the case. Note, however, that their value is only 120 marks. Regardless of whether you are starting the theory part or case study, spend time on their proportional marks. You can spend a maximum of 90 minutes studying a case, that is, 15 minutes per case study.


The Ethics paper captures the best effort to maximize your overall main marks, so your place on the final merit list. Continue to practice your answers and follow the steps above to get the best score.


Database of real-life examples


Examples are essentials to activate your answer. Not only can they make the concept clear, but they also convey how moral principles and contradictions will manifest themselves in real life. Without them, an ethical solution would be insane theoretical exploitation.


We learned what to look for in an ethics paper and how to study it. But when you start studying ethics papers and syllabus, you should also think about what to avoid.


Let us discuss that also


The ethics paper does not require the same as learning other papers and preparing points. In addition, the ethics paper takes only half the time given to other papers. Every aspirant should understand that smart work is needed rather than hard work for this.


It only takes 3-4 months of effort for a person to start learning sensibly. Never spend a great deal of time learning ethics.


In ethics, it is essential to avoid complicated expressions and misconceptions. Because it will mislead your natural thinking. Your questions are aimed at dealing with ethical issues from an administrative perspective. So, don’t lose track of what you need to learn.


You need to practice writing answers to see it as a logical analysis of any situation. Then only you can write your analysis very authentically. Remember, the answers should sound like arguments, not abstract writing.


Unfortunately, some candidates try to ‘force’ morality in their answers. This is the worst thing you can do. Your morals will automatically be reflected in your answers‌, don’t make it too hard.


In real life, you have to try and implement the principles that you have learned in the books, which are closer to the realities. This will help you practice and understand moral philosophies and become a better person.


Characteristics of Ethics


Knowing an aspirant’s administrative aptitude

The special characteristic of this paper is that different individuals can have different morals or values, and this is a perfect opportunity for IAS candidates to demonstrate their governance abilities. Candidates should make a voice out to the examiner by offering innovative solutions to the common crisis issue as set out in the case studies.


Can score more than other general studies


Many candidates often claim that instead of wasting time on simple paper-like ethics, they should invest more time in challenging theories in General Studies Papers 1, 2, and 3. In addition, the ethics class scored the highest of 4 because it has a clearer syllabus and it can be studied more. IAS candidates should bear in mind that ethical papers, essay papers, and optional paper can have higher marks than other GS papers.


Rank Booster


Ethics paper is getting popular among IAS aspirants due to its short, crisp syllabus and the simple availability of study material. It’s also discussed by IAS Toppers that a good score in an ethical paper will boost up your rank and can also decide the service you will receive. The only technique that scores high in this test is writing practice as often as it becomes an art for students. The only two considerations in this paper are the unique language and observation of each question.


Case Studies


Case studies are a great way to test a candidate’s inherent decision-making power and his / her way of reasoning through crises. That is why when conducting a case study; UPSC will always ask for your opinion as an officer should do in the same situation. The answer should be based on two factors from the point of view of morality and ethics. The action you have taken, as indicated in your answer, must be morally right for you and others.


Ethical issues


Ethical thinking is a growing topic and there is much more to explore in this field. Moreover, students should be able to point out the moral or ethical nature of the problem while reading the latest events. If aspirants have the ability to incorporate current ethical debates into their answers, their chances of getting a better promotion increase significantly. Some topics of discussion include food, fuel, bioethics in biotechnology research, medical ethics in health for all, and ethical dilemmas on human rights issues.


Gain Adequate Practice


The Ethics Paper emphasizes dialogue and realistic explanations that come only from proper preparation. In comparison, common patterns and ideas occur during the year in case studies. So answering a lot of these questions in advance will give you the confidence to face some sort of question.




The key point of access to this paper is to read and write consistently so that you can provide rich answers that can be evaluated in advance to any question asked. Holding the tips listed above and preparing your response will help you get a better score with a dedicated study.


As we mentioned before, the unpredictability and ambiguity of the ethics syllabus are what makes the paper tricky. This paper is about personal opinions rather than facts and figures mentioned in some reports or studies. Many IAS aspirants underestimate the ethics paper as the syllabus contains common terms such as happiness, attitude, taste, values ​​, or morals, which are considered easy for the candidate to write, but the same ambiguity of these terms makes this paper very unpredictable.