How to Prepare UPSC CSE GS Paper 4

Strategy For General Study Paper - 4

Many students feel scared how to prepare for General Studies Paper 4 of the UPSC IAS exam. The questions asked in this exam are of subjective nature. There is no single answer that is correct for these questions. Every student can reply to these questions with different points of view. You will need a practical and philosophical approach while answering the questions of the UPSC Ethics paper. Follow these basic guidelines and principles to achieve good marks in the GS paper VI (General Studies Paper 4). Here you will learn how to frame your answer and preparation strategy.

Read the syllabus deeply

To prepare for the Ethics paper , the most important point is to read the GS 4 syllabus. You will have to learn the syllabus almost so that using keywords in your answer can be easy. This paper is set up to check the attitude, ability and approach of the aspirants in different scenarios like problem solving approach, dealing with the public, handling conflicts, and finding solutions to issues related to integrity.

Go at a deep level of the GS paper 4 syllabus so that you can clearly understand the requirement of Each section. Also note down important keywords from each sub-topic.

Think like a future Bureaucrat

In case studies, your prescribed solutions should be like a future bureaucrat. Suggest  practical and legal solutions that should be ethically correct as well and don’t violate also the constitution’s ethos.

Case studies and General questions’ preparation –

Your ethical dilemmas and thinking come out during case studies. The purpose of this to prepare you for the field experience. As a civil servant , you will have to face various circumstances, mishappening and conflicts. An IAS officer should be ready to handle all these situations.

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How to prepare UPSC GS mains Paper 4

Discussion is beneficial to get various perspectives

Develop your own point of view on current topics rather than reading a lot of books. Group discussion or debate will help you. When you get various perspectives, it will be easy for you to reach a better conclusion. What you believe, it does matter. Write this in your paper of Ethics UPSC. If you actually believe in something, it is easy to write in your answer.

Practicing answer writing is good rather that reading

 For other GS papers reading is must and a good way to score high. But this is not true with the ethics paper. To score high in this exam practice of answer writing and the presentation of views is important.

Don’t go beyond time limit

Give excess time to case studies, this tendency can be seen in a majority of students. There is no need for it. Case studies worth one twenty marks only. Don’t spend more than 90 minutes on case studies. Spend time on the topics in the proportion of marks.

Flow chart and Diagrams

Some topics like Emotional Intelligence, Civil Service Principles and Good Governance, demonstrate their characteristics with the help of flowcharts and diagrams. This will make your response substantial and brief. Prepare diagrams and charts earlier and merge them into the mock test series. Then it will be easy for you to apply in the final exam.

Since the pattern and syllabus of this exam has changed, now there are four General Studies papers. The paper of Ethics, Aptitude and Integrity can create problems to some students. Sources are limited and may be evasive. But you have no need to worry. UPSC checks the basic understanding and knowledge of candidates on relevant issues and how able he is in analyzing or taking a stand on socio- economics goals, demands and objectives. Don’t try to be a master of the topics. This can irritate you and also waste your precious time. Your basic understanding and analyzing ability are important. Read, just read and after this revise. Then make writing practice. Question paper will be based on theory and case studies of the ethics syllabus.

Preparation tips for Ethics

General studies paper IV  may be confusing. Students can confound how to write the correct answer of the Ethics paper. Subjectivity of this paper can be challenging for aspirants in answer writing. Fist of all divide the whole Ethics syllabus for UPSC in two parts- Theory and Case studies.

In the theory section, the definition, significance and application of Ethical values in our day to day life are important. Questions are asked basically of this type. You will have to explain a value with appropriate answers.

Three questions can be asked from Integrity – 

  1. Definition of Integrity or what is the meaning of integrity?
  2. Importance of Integrity- In the absence of  this state of being united, what will be the outcome for society, country or an individual as well.
  3. What are the difficulties in fertilizing integrity?

You can now guess the types of questions for every ethical value. Predict these questions and frame your answer for all ethical terms.

Always start your answer with the definition of ethical values. Define these values in your term including its meaning. Your definition should be simple rather than a difficult one. You can also add some quotes in your answer to make it more interesting.

Impose actual life examples in your answer

An alive example makes your answer more significant. These examples make the concept more clear. Generally our answers are theoretical and sometimes pointless also. But a real life example conveys the message that how these ethical principles and conflicts are present in our life. The knowledge of ethical values does not matter more but their application in real life really matters.


  1. Many online portals provide answer writing practice. Here read what the other persons are writing. Then make your own blueprint.
  2. Action, quotes and stories of some leaders, administrators, philosophers or well known personalities can also be used in your answer to make it more effective.
  3. Ethical dilemmas change from person to person. Apply your own point of view in your answer.

Tips for Case studies   Our Ethical dilemmas come out clearly during case studies. Case studies prepare you for field experience. Through case studies, an examiner judges you on what you will react to in the same situation. The best solution to this is to think like an examiner. Imagine yourself as a problem solver and definitely your answer will be the best and you will achieve a good score in GS Paper 4.

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