In Conversation with Atif Ameer (PSP) 2nd in Pakistan, CSS 2018-19
Catch line: JWT provides fundamental knowledge for Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs and even for Islamiat in accordance with the needs of all competitive examinations.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Atif Ameer (AA): I have done my intermediate and BA (Hons.) from Government College University, Lahore. I graduated with major in English Literature.
JWT: As you have been allocated to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
AA: I believe, I can perform efficiently only when I put myself in a very challenging and demanding situation. PSP offers these opportunities where I can test and challenge my potential to the acutest limits. Secondly, PSP is a uniform service which gives you a very distinctive identity. Lastly, the room to serve the underprivileged people in PSP is beyond any comprehension.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute (WTI)?
AA: World Times Institute proved instrumental in my CSS journey. I joined WTI for preparation for written part and then later for interview. Weekly tests, English helpdesk and availability of CSS-qualified mentors, as well as highly experienced faculty are some of the key features that aided me during my stay at WTI.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
AA: Multifaceted approach is needed to score high in written part:
- a) Absorbing and reproducing quality and distinctive material.
- b) Educating and facilitating the examiner.
- c) Giving equal time and space to all questions.
- d) Making effective presentation of quality material; it includes your handwriting, pictorial representations, references and quotes.
- e) Communicating with the examiner in the language of the subject you are taking the exam of. Never generalize the jargon of that subject.
- f) Making separate preparation for MCQs.
- g) Appearing regularly in test sessions and mock exams.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
AA: For this, I would suggest the following 4-point strategy:
- a) Practice English on daily basis; even if you have a degree in English literature. English should be treated very seriously!
- b) Cover maximum dimensions of each compulsory subject during preparation.
- c) Prepare for general ability on regular basis.
- d) Take exams with updated knowledge base, and avoid using clichéd arguments.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
AA: I would say that following factors played a key role in my success in CSS.
- a) Prayers of my parents and teachers.
- b) Clarity of purpose and focus on goal, not on obstacles and hindrances.
- c) Covering entire syllabus of all subjects. Not leaving anything on choice.
- d) Evaluating myself and then working on my weaknesses.
- e) I always underestimated myself and that actually worked as a driving force for me.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
AA: This is very important question, and the answer to this is that while taking the exam, an aspirant must bear following things in mind:
- a) Introduction should be a detailed summary of the answer embellished with one quotation.
- b) Body should directly address the question without wasting the words on narrating context and historical positions. Every paragraph of the main body should be linked with the question again and again so as to stay relevant through.
- c) Derive your headings from the question.
- d) Support every argument with facts, examples, references and quotations.
- e) Presentation skills can be useful in fetching maximum marks. But, quality presentation of an ordinary content won’t help much.
- f) Always maintain the distinction between recommendations and solutions.
- g) Give ample time to framing an optimistic conclusion.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
AA: 6-7 pages per question; however, all the answers should be of same length.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
AA: I constructed my essay deriving my arguments from several discourses, i.e. (Politics, economics, society, philosophy, strategy, literature, science, religion, etc.).In my opinion, even an issue-based essay should be developed on creative lines. For that, candidates should also practice literary and abstract essays during the preparation phase. Furthermore, I never delved into the technicalities of the structure of essay. I believe writing comes naturally.
JWT: What areas should the new aspirants focus while start preparing for the CSS exam?
AA: For that, following points can be highly instructive:
- a) Start with reading a book on world history, e.g. World History by B.B. Rao
- b) Start learning about all the major national and international events, wars, revolutions, writers and philosophies.
- c) Acquaint yourself with all the major ‘isms’, i.e. communism, socialism, modernism, orientalism, imperialism, etc.
- d) Develop a very strong association with newspaper.
JWT: How did you handle de-motivations, you faced?
AA: De-motivation can only be brushed aside by evaluating yourself on a regular basis. Candidates, enclosed in their rooms, usually face de-motivation. Hence, taking regular tests and fetching good marks and response, thereupon, from teachers act as antidote to de-motivation.
Secondly, I never imposed CSS on my life; I made it a part of my life.
My tips on:
Selection of optional subjects
I followed only one criteria; that is, my interest.
- a) Make precise notes so that you may revise them on the day before exam.
- b) Use books, internet and magazines for making notes. Newspaper should be used for updating them.
- a) During regular preparation, Saturday should be the revision day.
- b) January onwards should be allocated to revision and consolidation of what you have studied during the preparation stage.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
There is no shortcut to success. Every qualifier goes through the complete, arduous journey before achieving success. So, fresh aspirants should make up their mind before entering this phase. Never consider yourself less capable if you are hardworking. Believe me, there is no alternative to hard work.
My Interview Experience
The environment was very conducive and friendly. My interview was largely focused on literature and my optional subjects. Questions related to Shakespeare, American literature, poetry, drama, etc. were asked in initial phase. Later on, the panel moved on to questions like identity construction, women-related laws, constitution of Pakistan, parliamentary versus presidential system debate and Islam and economy. Hence, it was a blend of questions from academic background and practical debates going on in Pakistan.