Excellent presentation skills and a lot of practice of past papers before the exams are also ighly important.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Syeda Amna Moudoodi (SAM): I did my O Level and A Level from Lahore Grammar School. Then, I went to FCC, a prestigious educational institution in Lahore, to pursue my bachelor’s in Business Administration. In the senior year of BBA, I decided to go for CSS. Since I wasn’t an outstanding student during my educational career, my success in this exam proves that the much-believed idea that only the high-achievers and the brightest students can get through CSS is completely untrue and unfounded.
JWT: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career right from the childhood, so what were your ambitions? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?
SAM: I had never thought of becoming a CSP officer; I was always interested in sports and wanted to achieve something extraordinary in this field. However, over the years, I started noticing CSPs around me and their life attracted me a lot. In the final year of my BSc, after getting inspired from my friends who were going to appear in CSS exam, I also mustered up the courage to have a shot at it.
JWT: What feature of PAS attracted you most?
SAM: As a PAS officer, one can gain maximum field experience when one plays the role of the manager of an entire district. Moreover, as one makes progress in one’s career, one gets opportunities to take active part in policymaking. So, I preferred PAS as I found a lot of dynamism in it.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation? And, how was your experience at the World Times Institute?
SAM: I had a wonderful experience at World Times Institute (WTI). I prepared for written exam as well as interview at WTI. The WTI faculty helped me immensely. They helped me improve my knowledge for the written exam as they focused on almost every crucial aspect required to clear the written exam, and, of course, interview.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
SAM: CSS is a very challenging exam and it requires a multi-dimensional approach. One needs to keep in mind the level of competition in CSS and try and make one’s papers different from the rest of the lot. You can make a real difference if you include maps, graphs, flowcharts, etc., on your Answer Book. Excellent presentation skills and a lot of practice of past papers before the exams are also highly important.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
SAM: My strategy for both compulsory and optional papers was to do smart, not hard, work. I thoroughly studied the past papers and took out 10-15 topics for each subject about which I was sure that they would be there on the question paper. After that, I prepared my notes on those topics which included all sorts of quotes, references, maps, graphs, etc., to support my ideas and to stand out in the lot. At the end of all my answers, I included a critical analysis of the topic just to show my comprehension level to the examiner.
JWT: What were the toughest and the easiest parts in the whole process of CSS exam?
SAM: For me, the easiest part was the written exam as one can well prepare and be sure of the questions or topics that will be on the question paper. The toughest part, however, was the interview where one does not know what the panellists will ask and where one has only a limited time to respond.
JWT: Anything important about your CSS journey you want to share with the aspirants?
SAM: My CSS journey, like all other aspirants, was not easy. I had to face a lot of hardships during this journey but I never gave up. Besides working smart, one should always pray to Allah to ease one’s difficulties.
JWT: How the answers should be written to get maximum marks?
SAM: I believe, your answers should be, first of all, well planned. You should jot down points of progression and how to take them forward. The introduction and conclusion should be very carefully planned and well-written. Each point should be placed under a heading and subheadings. If a point can be supported by a quote, then it is always advisable to add it. Including graphical representations is also a great idea as they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Lastly, a critical analysis should be included at the end.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SAM: A good and well-rounded answer spans over 5-6 pages. One should divide the allotted time between all questions equally.
JWT: How did you handle de-motivations?
SAM: The best way to handle it is to always pray to Almighty Allah for giving you the strength. Moreover, you should never, never give up. At times, during my preparation, I wanted to give up but every time I thought so, I got back to study and worked even more keeping in mind the promise I had made to myself that I would clear CSS, come what may.
It went quite good. Frankly, I was a bit nervous before the interview started but the panellists were very friendly and they patiently listened to my opinions.
First of all, Mr Chairman started questions about the quota system and its comparison merit-based system in CSS exams. Keeping in view the current constraints and educational statistics, I favored the quota system. Then, he asked me about the Mansabdari system during the Mughal era. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the answer, so I skipped it.
Second panellist asked questions on USA history and the reasons behind the civil war while the third put them on public administration. He then asked me about good governance and its importance in Pakistan.
Then there were some questions on Eastern and Western routes of CPEC, traffic problems in Lahore and their solutions. Then he asked whether the Orange Line Project was the solution to these problems or not. With this my interview came to an end.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
There are two types of people in this world: those who decide to do something but give up later, and those who make promises to themselves and then put in all-out efforts to achieve their targets. If you have ever dreamed of being a CSP, then make all endeavours to fulfil your.