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Perception and Reality of Ethics GS Paper 4

Is there any trend of IAS exam to follow at all? Yes…No… Don’t know…! Often IAS aspirant design their strategies based on certain reliable trends of this exam.  This includes from selecting an optional subject to giving importance to certain areas of GS Mains depending upon such hollowly created trends. Aspirants often underline the areas from which marks can be easily fetched. But is there any worth following such marking pattern of 2015 mains exam? For example; following slaughtering of Public administration from the last 3 years, many candidates moved in the sheds of safer subjects. Geography was supposed to be one such safe womb till marks of 2015 mains were out.  Again query remains unchanged- ‘is there any safe haven to fetch marks’?

No. A big no! Lets churn out another scenario; Scope of Ethics paper.

Download Ethics Case Study Paper Discussed in Class


Final marks of 2015 show the unusual trend. Mains Cutoff marks remained somewhere close to 2014. However marking pattern is not usual. GS Paper 1 and 3 did well but other papers failed to perform on expected line. The popular combo of ethics + essay + optional which worked till 2014, fall flat in 2015 for many candidates.

Ethics marking was most bizarre!  What went wrong with ethics paper? After speaking to many candidates who qualified and also who could not make it to the final list, I observed that paper of this year was lengthy and to remain relevant qualitatively in all questions was a tough task for aspirants. This year also many candidates crossed 100. So the potential is still high and it will remain so. But the average marking in this paper has gone drastically low. The challenge will continue as after third year of introduction in the syllabus ethics paper will evolve to the further altitude in the coming years. Though, content of this paper is not tough but writing quality answer is still a big challenge. Usually there are certain notions associated with the Ethics Paper from the very first year i.e. 2013 such as:

(a) The questions are open ended thus it can be written easily and requires spontaneity rather than deep preparation;
(b) The pattern of writing case studies remains same even if questions are of different formats (as steps given or not given);
(c) It always betters to take a general approach with high moral ground while writing the answers etc.

Because of all these notions aspirant does not prepare deep for Ethics even the weightage of paper is same as that of others. Further managing quality of answers for whole paper becomes a tough task. Aspirants are able to maintain objectivity for maximum 10-12 questions and loose the tempo and effectiveness later. A good Mains answer requires just three things: Interpretation + Articulation + Objectivity. Interpretation of question – to get the correct dimension out of it and bringing Objectivity in the answer by sticking to that dimension only has become a challenge. Aspirants should be clear in his/her thoughts and design the answer with proper introduction, text body and conclusion in an articulated manner.

This paper has good potential of marks and it will stay so in the future also. Exceptional thanks to case studies where concentrated potential of marks lies. However fetching marks will not be as easy as it was in the initial years.

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