JWT has been a source of knowledge, motivation and guidance throughout my preparation.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Assad Abbas (AA): After early education from Grammar Public School, I joined Punjab College of Commerce and did my intermediate and graduation in commerce from there. Afterwards, I did BS (Hons.) in Accounting and Finance from Teesside University in Middleborough, United Kingdom. Throughout my academic career, I won scholarships and a number of awards for extracurricular activities.
JWT: As you know everyone starts dreaming of a future career in childhood, what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a PMS Officer?
AA: Becoming a part of civil service has always been my dream. I come from a respected family and my father Haseeb Shah and my uncle Safeer Shah enjoy vast public reputation. The appreciation and recognition they won by performing their duties with diligence, honesty and hard work were a source of inspiration for me.
JWT: What was the feature of PMS that attracted you most and you decided to go for it?
AA: As you know, PMS is a provincial service, so one thing which attracted me was serving the province I belonged to. Secondly, after the 18th amendment and the merger of Secretariat & Executive services, PMS stands at par with any other group offered by CSS.
AA: JWT has been a source of knowledge, motivation and guidance throughout my preparation. Its relevance to CSS, PMS aspirants is such obvious that even the FPSC has recommended it for CSS exam. One thing special about JWT is that besides being highly informative in stuff, it is beautifully designed. Therefore, the reader doesn’t get bored. I always used to read the interview section of JWT especially during the de-motivation times I went through.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to get through compulsory papers, especially General Knowledge?
AA: GK paper is probably the toughest in PMS exam. To prepare for this very paper, I consulted past papers of PPSC, Oxford Encyclopedia of Pakistan, JWT’s MCQs portion and newspapers. For all other compulsory papers, I believe the only key to success is correlating the syllabus with the past papers and then preparing from recommended books. Lastly, putting oneself in constant test mode in order to get feedback on paper quality and quantity is a must for success.
JWT: What was your strategy for getting impressive score in written part?
AA: In compulsory papers, I provided a brief outline of the topic and adorned my answer with headings and maps as well as relevant quotations. To ensure that important parts of my answers are eye-catching, I underlined them with pen. In the end, I gave a relevant analysis of the issue, followed by a conclusion.
JWT: How should one chose one’s optional subjects?
AA: I believe one must choose optional subjects from two important domains; keeping in view one’s educational background and area of interest. Even if a person had studied science subjects in his academic career but has an interest in humanities, he should choose a blend of both.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
AA: Above all, my parents especially my father who supported and guided me to his best. Then, my teachers Sir Imran, Sir Asif and WTI faculty. Last but not least, my wife for her patience and cooperation.
JWT: How did you prepare your notes?
AA: I prepared my notes in three stages. At first stage, I read quality and recommended books and highlighted important paragraphs. In the second stage, I read again and made new notes with precise sentences of the chapters. Finally, in the last stage, I read short notes again and produced one to two word headings of important chapters and questions and tried to pen down entire course in shortest possible pages.
JWT: In order to get excellent marks, how one should write the answers?
AA: Answer should be written with outlines, headings and analytical portion at the end.
JWT: What should be the length of an ideal answer?
AA: I think a decent, and impressive, answer should cover, at least, 3 full pages.
My Interview Experience
As this was my first-ever interview of a competitive exam, I was excited as well as nervous. I appeared before a 4-member interview panel headed by honourable chairman Lt. Gen Sajjad Akram. Mr. Chairman started the interview by asking me about my fave colour to which I replied that it was black. After that he proceeded to ask for my introduction.
One of the worthy panellists asked for my opinion on Gen Ziaul Haq’s policies with respect to Iran-Pakistan relations. I replied that his policies were justified given the prevailing international situation at that time. He then asked some counter questions and I replied those with great confidence. One respectable member asked with a smile, “Gentlemen, do you think you have answered suitably?” I said, “Yes, sir. I believe my answers were suitable enough.”
The interview ended with Mr Chairman asking a few questions from my optional subjects.
I thanked the respectable panellists and left the room.