The UPSC provides a basic instruction on which you should focus:

“The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.”

Learn the syllabus -The keywords in the syllabus of Ethics should be learnt by heart so that  you can use them in your answers.

GS Paper-4, titled Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude, was introduced as part of mains syllabus reforms from civil services examination, 2013. Question paper will be based on theory and case studies.

The GS-4 paper is subdivided into two sections Section A and Section B.  Each section values 125 marks.

  • Sections A includes theoretical questions which are generally of the applied kind.
  • Section B consists of case studies.
  • The paper lays emphasis on keywords, self-awareness and candidate's ability to balance between productivity at work and personal-professional ethics.
  • The preparation of this paper also helps in the Essay paper.

The roadmap for preparation:

  • Avoid reading many books on the same topic. Read at least twice before making notes. Notes will help in memorising the keywords. Use these keywords in writing answers in mock tests.
  • Read previous year papers and make notes on frequently asked keywords. 
  • Examples are the heart of answer writing in Ethics paper. Note examples from current affairs to substantiate your answers. 
  • Draw diagrams about concepts in Ethics which make your answers unique.

How to start the preparation?

  • Try to write the definition of the keywords mentioned in the syllabus in minimum and simplest words. It will develop your command over them.
  • Relate those keywords with your personal experiences e.g. you can cite a personal experience about the keywords. You can also relate them to real life examples from social reformers, civil servants like Ashok Khmeka etc.
  • Use the case studies as a hypothetical example while writing your answers. It will help you when you cannot find a suitable example for the values/keywords asked in questions.

Answer Writing format for Section A- Theoretical questions

Answer Writing format for Section B- Case Studies

Books and internet links to be read

  • G. Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chowdhury’s Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination (Paper - 5)
  • Lexicon for ethics, Integrity, and aptitude
  • NCERT Psychology book Class XI & XII: Selected chapters.
  • Harvard lectures by Michael Sandel

Ethics and Human Interface


Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service

Emotional intelligence

Concepts, the utilities and application in administration and governance

Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world

Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration

Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

Probity in Governance