#16: How can I improve my answer writing for Ethics in UPSC Mains?

UPSC Mains paper 4 (Ethics) is of 250 marks to be answered in 3hours time duration. The paper is designed to evaluate the ‘ethical competence‘,  not the ‘knowledge about ethics‘. This paper will not only take your time but will also leave you puzzled because of its subjective nature as there is no correct way to deal with it. Ethics paper can be confusing. There can be multiple ways to answer a particular question and all of them might be right. Although adhering to the syllabus is the foremost requirement, what becomes challenging is to come up with a convincing framework for answer writing.

Ethics paper is divided into two segments:


  1. Case Studies


theory questions ask you to explain a definition along with examples.

You  should acquaint yourself with terms mentioned in the syllabus. You should be able to express terms in simplest words and minimal possible words. Try to Relate terms and values mentioned in the syllabus with your personal experiences. For example –  honesty, try to reminisce events from your life where you have demonstrated honesty. If you can’t think of any personal experience, prepare an eminent personality and then map him or her onto the values they stood for. For example Mahatma Gandhi stood for Professionalism, Integrity, Moral Courage, Humility, Leadership. Doing this will give weight to your ethical analysis. To make your answer concise and neat Diagrams can be of great help as these are important to provide the X-factor to your answer.

Case Studies:

The purpose of case studies is to make you ready for the field experience. Honing your approach for the same will definitely sail you through. Also with case studies, the examiner can understand how you might behave if you were in a similar situation. So, the key  is to put yourself in the shoes of an administrator, and consider yourself a problem solver. 

To answer a case study you must prepare a set of frameworks to follow ,like while reading a newspaper, try to focus on the actions of various people involved. It’s all about three things – stakeholders, communication and decision making

Try to be personal with your approach to the situation.

When referring to the case studies, do a deep analysis as this will only broaden your thinking spectrum. This will also inculcate a set of value systems and responsibilities for the job you are aiming for.

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