Decoding GS-4 Paper for UPSC Mains 2020

Hey all Aspirants…!!!!

Welcome back to the VAJIRAO IAS ACADEMY and we are back with the fourth article of the series “The Race to UPSC CSE 2020”. In this article, we will be discussing about the “Tips and Strategies for GS Paper-4”.  You can also go through the previous articles in the series i.e. “Tips and Strategies for GS Paper-3”.

As we all know, the GS Paper-4 or the paper on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude was introduced in 2013 only. So, it’s relatively a newbie in the UPSC Empire.

Nevertheless, if it is there in the UPSC syllabus, no matter whatsoever, you have to prepare for it. We would like you to have a closer look at the instruction given by UPSC for this paper:

“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 utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects”.

The instruction more or less sets down everything you require to do. This papers is something used to test the integrity and problem solving ability of the future bureaucrats.

As a whole, scoring well in this paper requires a know how of keywords, self-awareness, the ability that you are practical and pragmatic in your approach and have a clear head in understanding and solving the problems of the society at large.

Making a thorough analysis of the previous year question papers will reveal that the nature and pattern of the examination is more or less of a generalist type. You will have to answer the questions with application of common sense while keeping in the mind the ethical principal as well.

The Ethics paper offers a very good cost-to-benefit ratio in terms of preparation. With little efforts, one can gain maximum benefits out of it. To ace the UPSC Mains exam you need to perform very well in three papers and Ethics is one of them (other two being the Optionals and Essay paper). The paper makes you aware of the qualities desired of a civil servant its discharge of public service.

Syllabus and Booklist
It is said that the Ethics paper is designed to evaluate your ‘Ethical Competence’ and not your ‘knowledge about ethics’. One should be comfortable with all the keywords mentioned in the syllabus i.e. if require, you must be able to produce a simplistic definition of the said keyword.

As far as the booklist is concerned, it is better to keep it concise. You can refer to the following standard books and materials:

  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude- G. Subbarao
  2. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – Civil Services Chronicle
  3. Citizen Centric Administration – ARC Report
  4. Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazines
    *You can also read selected chapters from NCERT Psychology book Class 11th and 12th.
    *Reading biographies of famous personalities during free time will also help.

The GS Paper-4 is sub-divided into two sections i.e. Section A and B, each carrying 125 marks.

  • Section A includes theoretical and bookish questions, generally applied type in nature.
  • Section B contains case study based questions.

Each proper requires a different approach. For Section A, you can bank upon the standard books. But as far as Section B is concerned, it requires a better approach. Best thing would be to analyze the daily newspaper more critically in terms of ethical mindset. Keep an eye on news articles related to government social schemes, corruption by public officials etc.

You can also join any test series specifically for case studies, which in a way will get you well versed with all the kinds of questions asked in the actual paper.

Tips and Strategies

  • First thing First. Be thorough with the syllabus. It is the most important document for this paper. Prepare short definition for all the topics mentioned in it.
  • Refer to any one book. Better read the same book more number of times. Highlights the sayings of great scholars and memorize them.
  • Go through the previous year question papers. Make a note of the keywords which are repeated year after year.
  • Prepare a good answer writing structure based on your style of writing and follow the same during the course of your preparations.
  • Develop unique real life examples based on the contemporary issues, different social issues etc. If possible make use of flow charts and diagrams to enhance your answer. This bound to fetch you a mark or two more than your counterparts and this what’s required…!!!!

The Ethics paper tends to determine as to who you actually are. Never try to provide extravagant answers, be realistic in your approach. Similarly, there is no any set answer for a case study the idea should be to prepared to present the ‘best you’ before the examiner.

So, it is loud and clear that this paper requires you to be more than bookish and able to tackle issues which you may face in your capability as a bureaucrat. So prepare pragmatically and sail through it convincingly. And don’t forget the UPSC Mantra, we have been preaching you these days:

“Read, Re-read, Write, Revise, Repeat”

Stay tuned for further updates in the series.

Till then…..Think Positive, Stay Healthy…..!!!!!!



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