Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam

Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam

Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam is very high. Over the years, UPSC civil services exam pattern has undergone a number of changes. From the change in decreasing the number of Optional subjects to introducing CSAT paper to increasing number of general studies paper, etc. We have seen a number of changes since 90s. In this article, we will read about the importance of ethics paper in IAS exam and how it can be one of the highest scoring paper in our UPSC civil services examination.

Importance of Ethics paper in IAS examIn 2013, UPSC has redesigned its syllabus where the Optional was reduced from two to one  and General Studies got divided into four parts (250 marks each) and one optional, along with other mandatory papers. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude was introduced as General Studies Paper IV (250 marks). This article is about shedding some light on the importance of Ethics Paper (GS Paper IV) in IAS/UPSC exam. 

When introduced, the syllabus appeared vague and unpredictable for everyone. But UPSC took care of that and gave easy paper and lenient marking in the exams. We can comment on that from the type of questions being asked – your understanding of ‘values’ and ‘ethics’, integrity, perseverance, commitment, importance of public service, understanding of emotional intelligence, what ‘happiness’ is, etc. All of this was considered abstract and tricky and all were made to believe that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to ethics. This made the aspirants believe that whatever they would write, will fetch them marks. But then how come a few got lower marks and others higher? Is it because they couldn’t complete the paper? If yes, then that would mean that those who could complete the paper should have got almost the same marks. This is not true.

Importance of Ethics paper in IAS Exam –

There are a few basic things that we need to understand as civil services aspirants:

  • Though the paper appeals to our common sense, we need to accept that our common sense isn’t much evolved unless we complement it with knowledge. Therefore, those who say that you do not need to read books for this exam, or need guidance – they are wrong. You do need to gather knowledge – through books, people, newspaper reading, etc. Knowledge is necessary for common sense answers too.
  • Knowledge cannot be random. So, here comes the importance of relevant knowledge. How would you get to know which knowledge is necessary?

Let us understand certain points related to ethics paper and how the aspirants should take it –

  1. The syllabus for Ethics paper begins by this opening statement –
    • “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”. 
    • This means that the paper will be designed to evaluate the ‘ethical competence’. The idea is not to make you ‘ethical’ or check your degree of knowledge about ethics.
    • Instant ‘Decision making‘ comes from our thought process, which is influenced by our surroundings and exposure. This exposure and experience is further enriched by knowledge that we seek once we are mature beings.  Therefore, here readings becomes important – but it has to relevant.
  2. Ethics paper is more scoring than other general studies paper
    • Ethics paper is of 250 marks and is one of the easiest when it comes to scoring – provided we are well read. The syllabus doesn’t need much time to study and revise.
    • Unlike other General studies paper, where we spend months to understand and remember terms/concepts, this paper is much easier. The reason is simple – Whatever we have under ethics syllabus is something – which directly or indirectly – we come across in our daily life. A little more understanding and attention, and writing practise will be enough to fetch us good marks.
    • Best Recommended books for IAS Mains GS Paper 4
  3. Ethics paper has been introduced as a test of an aspirant’s administrative aptitude
    • The thinking of every aspirant is unique. This paper aims to present the aspirant with a platform where we can showcase our governance talents. We can establish our own examples, unique solutions, etc. to the crisis presented in form of various case studies.
  4. Increasing ethical issues in current scenarios
    • While reading newspaper or watching TV news, we should be able to point out the Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam. The aim of this paper is to make you pick up the ethical aspect on an issue and ponder over the steps to address and resolve the issue at hand. Some of the issues are ethical dilemma in human rights issues, medical ethics, environmental ethics, etc.
  5. Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam


How to study ethics paper for GS Mains 2018?


The need for including ethics paper in civil services examination was long felt. As it appears from the name of this paper – ‘Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude‘ – the need to inculcate ethical thinking among the budding civil services aspirants was long felt.

In the current scenario, we have witnessed a declining standard of ethics, and accountability and responsibility values among civil servants. Situations of conflict of interest for public servants are rampant in society. Amidst this scenario, corruption cases also adversely impact the administration and the society. Therefore, in the backdrop of this situation, introduction of ethics, integrity and aptitude paper has come as an attempt to rescue our future generation of civil servants. The Importance of Ethics paper in IAS exam cannot be denied.

For answer writing practice for UPSC IAS exam Ethics – GS Paper IV, you can click here – Ethics Answer writing practice 

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