GS 4: Ethics Strategy – Amit Kale (AIR 212, CSE 2018)

I hope this article helps demystify your preparation for GS 4 Ethics.

Ethics is one such subject which can be scoring with minimal consistent efforts but often given less time as compared to other GS papers. So, here I’ll be discussing the sources and strategy for ethics that worked for me and secured a decent score of 111/250.  

The purpose is to provide insight into my method of preparation from which other aspirants may pick points/strategies that suit their needs and proceed.

My Sources:

1. Lexicon

2. Concise notes (20-25 pages) of Dr. Shrikrishna Panchal, IAS (For exam time revision).

3. Vision IAS notes for few topics that are not comprehensively covered in Lexicon (Read it selectively as it is bulky).

4. 2nd ARC “Ethics in Governance” Chapter – concise notes of Vision IAS.

5. GS Score Printed Notes of –

  • Thinkers and Examples (15-20 Pages)
  • Basic definitions (15-20 Pages)

6. Internet for collecting examples, Quora for basic definitions.

7. Previous year papers and other test series papers


  • Lukmaan Case Studies booklet (to go through)
  • GS Score case studies booklet (for solving)
  • Mrunal videos for approach and format.



  • One, for making basic notes of syllabus from lexicon, vision ias, internet etc.
  • Two, for noting down topic wise one liners, quotations, examples, diagrams etc. (You can use a small diary as well for this)
  • Three, for answer writing practice of theory and case studies.

My Book 2 diagrams:


Prepare all the keywords of syllabus like empathy, compassion, integrity, probity etc. Try to understand their core meaning. Use Quora, YouTube videos for this. Prepare the keywords very well in your own words or from lexicon. Relate them to your personal life as well as public life examples. You can start any answer with the basic definition in minimum words to save time. Eg.

  • “Monopoly + Discretion = Corruption”
  • “Integrity is the character of uncorrupted virtues. It is honesty, sincerity and uprightness.”
  • “Accountability is answerability”


For every keyword of syllabus, try to prepare examples with respect to,

  • Personal life
  • Public Life (Administration, Corporate – national and international level)
  • History – ancient, modern

You can create a table for this as well:

Keyword Personal Public History
Integrity I rectified my restaurant bill that didn’t include one dish. 1.S.R.Sankaran, IAS 2.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam 3.Any current news related   M. Gandhi  
  • Also, in examples do prepare about your role model, the personality that inspires you.


prepare them!! It’s easy to remember the concepts like NOLAN 7 principles, Mahatma Gandhi’s seven social sins etc.


  • This is the most important part. I used to write 4-5 answers on alternate days (i.e, 3-4 times a week). Then I got it reviewed from my peers. You might not notice the change immediately, but it really does help in improving language, better structuring, and timely completion. Also, keep quoting examples in your answers from previous day newspaper or your daily life. This will create a pool of examples. Do revise these answers before the exam.
  • I used this standard format for answers:
  • Introduction (Definition/Example)
  • Diagram/Flowchart/Any representation
  • Main Body – Explanation and examples
  • Conclusion
  • If question is asking to explain the quotation like – Q. “We must not only tolerate others, but positively embrace them” -Swami Vivekananda. Now, substantiate this statement with respect to 1. Personal 2. Administrative 3. Societal perspectives. Thus, the answer will look more comprehensive. Try to incorporate this format in most of the answers.
  • I made sure that I quote multiple examples in every answer. Also, while writing answers in point format, under sub-headings like “issues involved” or “measures to be taken” you can substantiate your every point with a one word example.
  • Also, give references of various thinkers/philosophies if possible.
  • Be gender neutral while answering if question is not gender specific like his/her.
  • Your answers must always reflect a compassionate attitude. The conclusions must show your willingness to solve problems, by giving practical but inclusive way forward !!
  • Most importantly, please do not overstretch your answers. Stick to the word limit. I paid heavily in my previous mains for this mistake and ended up leaving around 30 marks worth answers. So, try to complete your answer in 130 words on an average.
  • Especially in ethics, do read the question carefully. (atleast twice)


  • Newspapers (Hindu/Indian Express) can be a great source for case studies. I used to read some events from this perspective. Keep a track of the event, what has happened and what decision was taken to resolve it. Eg. A news on communal riot, how the police responded, what steps did it take etc.
  • Using the Lukmaan case study material and previous year papers I prepared few templates for typical case studies like corruption, National security vs privacy, communal riots, disaster management etc.
  • Introduction part of my answer involved explaining the ethical issues involved. You can think of all the stakeholders involved to understand the issues.
  • Then do mention the stakeholders involved in each case study. For this I used to draw a circular representation.
  • Imagine the whole scenario. Put yourself into the shoes of the person/administrator who has to take the decision. Think from administrator’s perspective. Give practical/feasible solutions, even if it is less idealistic. The examiner is checking your practical decision making ability.
  • Mention the Constitutional provisions, CCS(Conduct Rules), Acts like POCSO etc. , Government Policies, SC verdicts etc. wherever possible and required.
  • In case “what are the available options” is asked, think of all possible ones, even the most non-sensical/corrupt ones to mention. Usually give 2 most extreme options and a middle one. (Mrunal Video)
  • Do explain the merits and demerits of each option.
  • Conclusion: Incorporate this in every case study. This can include preventive steps, solutions to problems arising in that case study. This will give you an extra edge!!
  • It does not matter what stand you take. But the examiner will check whether you are able to justify it. Eg. This year UPSC asked case study related of Edward Snowden who leaked sensitive government documents. In this, I took the non-popular stand against the actions of Snowden and supported National Security. I was able to give valid and objective justifications to prove it.


This is one of the most important aspects. I revised all my notes, written answers (3rd book as discussed above), case studies atleast 4 times before the exam. So, keep revising for better answer writing.

  • 3 revisions during test series (3 comprehensive tests minimum)
  • 1 revision just before the exam.


First start with the case studies. Initially, your mind will be fresh, better ideas/decisions will come while writing answers to case studies.

  • Case Studies: 1 hr 40 min max (15 min per case study + 10 min tolerance)
  • Theory: 80 min (6 min per answer)

Most important for better time management is answer writing practice!!!

I wish everyone all the best !

Author: Amit Kale

AIR 212, CSE 2018

22 thoughts on “GS 4: Ethics Strategy – Amit Kale (AIR 212, CSE 2018)”

  1. sir can you share your note book of ethics so i can understand how to write in ethics papers thank you

    1. Currently all my notes are at home. So not possible as of now. As and when it will be possible I will surely upload. Rest you can prepare the subject as per plan.

  2. One of the best simplification of paper 4 , from how to start and till how to complete the paper. The strategy pointed out by you Sir is simply amazing and practically implementable.. Thank you So much sir.???. Looking for more demystification specially Geography optional..

    1. Currently all my notes are at home. So not possible as of now. As and when it will be possible I will surely upload. Rest you can prepare the subject as per plan.

    1. Currently all my notes are at home. So not possible as of now. As and when it will be possible I will surely upload. Rest you can prepare the subject as per plan.

    1. Currently all my notes are at home. So not possible as of now. As and when it will be possible I will surely upload. Rest you can prepare the subject as per plan.

  3. Sir , this is one of the best insightful articles regarding GS – IV . Thank you so much!

  4. sir, i saw the above comments about everyone requesting you to please upload your ethics diagram notebook, that is also my request and I also your comment that notebook is at home.
    please try to upload it and share with us. before mains 2019

    also thank you for mentioning that every ethics answer should be written with 3 aspects in mind.. personal, administration and societal…
    Thank you

  5. Sir
    Please share your diagram notes.It will be very helpful
    And , what source did you use to make diagrams or did you draw all diagrams on your own?

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