How to prepare Ethics for UPSC-CSE | Ethics Books for UPSC

“Ethics is a inner perception of the difference between What you have a right to do and what is right to do”-CD

Table of Content:

What is Ethics?

Definition & Nature: Ethics is the philosophical study of morality that is the set of beliefs concerning right or wrong, good or bad, justice or injustice, etc. These beliefs can be our individual judgments or governance centric and upheld values or principles. These guide our actions, define our values and give us reasons for being the persons we are. Famous philosophers say:

  • Ethics is a set of moral principles on “How ought to live!”- Socrates.
  • “Ethics is the study of what is good or right in conduct.”- Mackenzie.
  • “Ethics is a normative science of the conduct of human beings living in societies which judge this conduct to be right or wrong, good and bad”- W. Lillie

Moral reasonings are the very essence of Ethics, which are possible because we can act against our nature, based on our conscience. And these moral reasonings stop us from simply describing what is likely to happen, and allow us to make judgments about what should happen. Of all the ways you might act, which is the best? Of all possibilities, which one should bring into reality? These are the questions, ethics seek to answer.

Ethics in UPSC-CSE Preparation

UPSC-CSE exam consists of two successive phases.

  • Prelims
  • Mains (Written & Interview)

In the mains, there are 4 General Studies Papers apart from Qualifying Papers, Essay, and Optional Subject papers.

And GS-4 consists of Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. (250 marks)

A civil servant is empowered with a certain official authority and legal power. So, how the civil servant makes use of such powers is important for our society as well as our government. So, besides other subjects, his ‘Ethical Competence’ is also tested.

How to prepare for Ethics

An ethics paper is designed to evaluate ethical competence and not mere knowledge about Ethics. It is a matter of application. 

In 10 effective ways you can prepare ‘Ethics’ for Civil Service Examination:

  • Know the syllabus, know the UPSC demands
  • Read limited books. Mark important lines. And make notes.
  • Develop a healthy habit of writing answers, consisting of keywords.
  • Read PYQs. Under a mentor.
  • Learn drawing diagrams.
  • Relate your logic with personal experience.
  • Mention what social reformers’ points
  • Try to write a robust but short summarized introduction and conclusion
  • To understand the ideas behind the subject, always start with very basic books like NCERTs.
  • Ethics is a very scoring subject. You can easily score 110+. So, as not to lose the opportunity, prepare under the guidance of a senior mentor. 

Toppers and Mentors suggested Ethics Books

You can start yourself at your home with 2 basic books

  • NCERT-Class-11 Psychology
  • NCERT-Class-12 Psychology

Some Advanced books are there. You can also boost your preparation with them:

  • Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Subba Rao and PN Rao Chaudhury
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude for IAS general studies paper IV by Niraj Kumar
  • Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude – M. Karthikeyan
  • Ethics in Governance- Innovation, Issues, and Instrumentalities – Ramesh K Arora.
  • Yojana

Apart from the above, try to read the summary of ARC reports:

  • ARC 4th Report
  • Citizen-Centric Administration – ARC report

Biographies and Other Books

  • Mahatma Gandhi: Experiment with Truth
  • Varghese Kurien Auto biography
  • Swami Vivekananda – Karmayoga and his biography
  • BBC Websites

Attend a free online workshop with our Senior Ethics Mentor, Sukanya Rana Ma’am

Sukanya ma’am has firsthand experience of 4 mains and 2 interviews of UPSC. She has also appeared in the State PCS interview. Before she worked as an officer in a public sector bank and now as a Mentor at Civilsdaily, she aims to guide future aspirants in finding success. Sukanya Ma’am has scored consistently 100+ marks in ethics and in 2019 her marks were 140 in GS 4. In 2020, under her mentorship, many smash mains students were able to secure 110+ marks.


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