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How should I answer a case study in ethics?

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  • Published
    4th Dec, 2021

Unlike any other paper in UPSC mains, Essay and Ethics paper are high scoring subjects in which students need to be creative in their approach of answer writing. Ethics paper is very much subjective in nature, which don’t follow linear point in their approach. Ethics paper requires a separate prepartion strategy as compare to any other subject.

In Ethics paper, questions in this paper tend to be subjective with no single correct answer. There can be multiple ways to answer a particular question and all of them might be right. Hence, though aspirants are clear about the syllabus, they are often confused about how to answer ethics questions.

Case Studies Segment of GS Paper:

  • Along with the theory part, case studies in Ethics paper brings out ethical dilemmas and logical reasoning sharply. The purpose of case studies is to make aspirants ready for the real-time field experience like situation. Aspirants should try to enhance their skill for civil services examination, as once they will enter the civil service after selection, aspirants may face situations in which competing values clash. Would strictly adhere to rules or stay flexible at times to help the needy.
  • Ethics paper makes the aspirants be prepared for the real-life battle as Civil servant confronts real-life situations on a daily basis. With the help of case studies, the examiner can understand how aspirants might behave if they face real-life similar situation.

Framing of the Answer:

  • In Ethics answer, aspirants should have concrete framework ready while answering gives a sense of flow, coherence, and structure to your case study. Aspirants faces the risk of steering away from the question and exceeding the word limit. Therefore, it’s helpful to categorise your answer under the following subheadings:
  • Aspirants should write briefly in a line or two the entire gamut of case study and should capture the entire case study.
  • Before attempting the question, aspirants should List down the set of people (stakeholders) who would be directly and indirectly affected in the case. For instance, you are the Regional Branch Manager, where you come to know that your colleague ABC is being harassed by person xyz based on the caste identity.


  1. You (Branch Manger
  2. Person ABC
  3. Person XYZ
  4. Company interest itself
  •  In ethical dilemmas sort of questions the case study. Aspirants should be crucial part of your answer since you explicitly mention the conflicting values you face in your judgement.
  • Options Available to You: Write 3-4 choices you have in the scenario, along with the pros and cons of choosing each alternative. Two choices inevitably will be the extreme options, which are generally avoided as your choice. The remaining ones should be the practical courses of action you wish to pursue.
  • Choosing an Optional, aspirants should look to choose their options in answer very carefully by balancing their all options by taking middle path approach. You should try to choose best options in any given situation which may not the most original but the most practical. If you come up with a spectacular innovative idea, but isn’t easily implementable, it’s as good as doing nothing.

Writing Case Studies Answers:

  • Aspirants should try to write all the possible options as their first priorities in the answer. Then, one by one, you should attempt all the options by writing, why you will take that particular option and why you will not take that particular option, you should elaborate on the further course of action.
  • The course of action you wish to pursue must be mentioned in detail, enumerating the steps clearly. Put yourself in the shoes of the administrator, dive into the details, and make your answer as vivid and concrete as possible.
  • Aspirants should try to write towards the end of their answer by quoting a relevant thinker’s opinion as quote gives credence to your decision.

Verifying, please be patient.

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