Half of the general studies paper 4, which is Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude, is based on Ethics case studies where you will be given a situation and you will be expected to answer with suggestive solutions to the problems raised in the given situation in a question. The purpose of these case studies based questions is to test a candidate’s ability to understand various situations and give pragmatic solutions from an administrator perspective.
Answering a Case studies based question is nowhere similar to answering a GS question, as the structuring of the answer holds great significance in case study, as it expresses the overall personality, perspective, problem-solving approach and thought process of the candidate. In this article, we will discuss some important points which one must keep in mind which structuring, formatting and writing answer to ethics case study questions in IAS Mains exam.
Through the case study questions in Civil Services GS Mains paper 4, UPSC intends to judge candidate in many aspects. Therefore, the candidate is expected to formulate the answer in a way that suggests the relevant and workable solutions to the given dilemmas. Follow these important rules:
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Read and understand the case study very carefully: Read the entire case study well, before jumping to any conclusion. Read it and understand what the case study is all about. You will find lots of facts and figures in the case study along with a situation you might or might not find very relevant from your point of view. But you will be required to answer and suggest the pragmatic solution to the dilemmas mentioned in a case study, so make sure read the case study with an open mind keeping an administrator perspective.
Keep jotting down the major facts and figures while reading: Since every fact and figure is difficult to remember while answering, make sure you make a note of all the important facts and figures while reading the case study. And make sure you add those important facts in your answer as it will mark a good impression on the examiner that you pinpointed the important facts given the case study, rather than just giving the solution.
Jot down the key highlights of the case study: Not just facts and figures, but also make a note of some important events held in a given situation; write down all the key highlights of the case study. These key points will later help you find the right solutions in the given situations.
Evaluate it well before jumping on to conclusion: Evaluate the Alternative Actions from the ethical and moral point of views. See if the case study is expecting multiple solutions; if not then make sure you right one best possible solution covering all the important aspects and key points.
If you are given the options to choose from, and you are not agreed to any of the options, you can write your own opinion beyond the given options, by citing a relevant reason.
If given options of a solution in a case study, choose the relevant options on the following basis:
- Which option best protects the moral rights of an individual
- Which option would make a common rule for all without any biasedness
- Which option would best promote the common good
- Which option would lead to the overall best consequences
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Do not forget the basic rule while solving a case study: cross check if your solutions to the given situation match the following principles
- See If the solution is realistic and workable
- See if the given solution by you is within your sphere of authority. You must know what all things would be in your control if you become an IAS officer and get a particular cadre, and make sure you suggest solutions based on that.
- See all the consequences associated with the particular solution you will give, and what measurement can be taken to avoid those consequences, if there is any.
- See if the solution can be done at the earliest or not; do not give very long-term solutions, as it would make no sense. Keep a problem solver approach while writing the answer, and not a common man sharing opinions or viewpoints to the particular situation.
Finally, while writing an answer to a case study, you must express the right personality traits, the practical approach, the balanced state of mind, unbiasedness, the alertness of mind and the compassion in you. Therefore, make sure you give a positive solution in the situation of a dilemma, which is quick to implement. Make sure the solutions you give are not from a common man perspective, but an administrator’s perspective, within the rules and regulation which you are supposed to function. Make sure you hold values of integrity, objectivity and impartiality in your solutions while expressing the sense of compassion and empathy in the deserving cases. Your answer must reflect that you hold the core foundational values of Civil Services.
Tip: Do not forget to try solving case studies as much as possible before going for the final quest. Case studies require a lot of thinking, mental exercise before jumping to any conclusion, so do not keep it for the last minute preparation. Start solving it from now if you are targeting IAS Mains 2018.