When you have to opt for a subject you had never studied before, go for a subject that is general in nature.
Umer Sarwar has topped the Provincial Management Service (PMS) 2016 Exam by securing an impressive aggregate of 1010 marks. Hailing from Rawalpindi, the very talented Umer has an MSc (Hons.) degree in Agricultural Sciences (Food Technology) on his credit. Before achieing this phenomenal success in PMS exam, Umer has served as an Assistant Education Officer (RWP City) and, more recently, was a Food Safety Officer (BS-17) in Punjab Food Authority. In an exclusive conversation with Jahangir’s World Times, Umer elaborated on various aspects of his PMS journey.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Umer Sarwar (US): I have done B.Sc. (Hons.) and M.Sc. (Hons.) in Food Technology from Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi. I won gold medals for both the degrees.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation?
US: I couldn’t get an opportunity to read JWT but I have seen many of my friends learning a lot and getting motivation from the mag.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers especially that of General Knowledge?
US: Writing skills play a crucial role in compulsory papers. In Urdu paper, writing grammatically-correct and error-free Urdu is very much important and it requires a lot of practice. General Knowledge is a very vast subject and grasping it fully is quite difficult. But the knowledge of basic sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc) obtained in high school level can be an asset in GK paper. So, candidates should learn fundamental concepts of these sciences besides staying updated on world affairs.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects for PMS exam?
US: Three factors should be considered in this regard:
(1) Interest for a subject;
(2) Educational background; and
(3) Scoring trend.
When you have to opt for a subject you had never studied before, go for a subject that is general in nature. Avoid choosing technical subjects.
JWT: How did you prepare your notes?
US: I prepared my notes by writing all the relevant points in brief form while studying a particular topic. My notes contained ideas (in bullets) rather than having full-length sentences as it is helpful in revision just before the exam.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
US: I think it is better to choose English because most of the candidates find it difficult to express their thoughts in correct Urdu, in a presentable manner. In addition, it is difficult to translate some words and phrases in Urdu.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in written part?
US: Since questions in competitive exams are composed of various parts, your answer should respond to every part of the question asked. It can be done by writing under separate headings. Integrate and express your thoughts in a presentable manner.
JWT: Should there be some word limit while writing answers?
US: Quality of the content should never be compromised just for the sake of writing more and more. Most of the times when you try to cover every aspect of the topic and add relevant information, the word limit is automatically achieved.
JWT: How did you write the Essay?
US: I spent about 5 minutes on choosing the topic and then 15 minutes on gathering the relevant points. Then, I structured these random ideas in the form of outlines. Outlines followed a pattern in which I presented my ideas in general-to-specific form. My outline contained many subheadings and the essay, then, was the extension of those in separate paragraphs. Every paragraph contained a complete idea with an opening, a climax and an end. I kept optimism and positivity all along.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
US: I prepared the topics mostly from internet resources due to the non-availability of books that would cover the syllabus. Then for basic and natural sciences, I consulted high school books and extracted from them enough material for preparation. Current affairs portion was covered with the help of notes.
JWT: How was your interview with the PPSC panellists?
US: Since most of the questions on current affairs do not have to-the-point answers; therefore, I presented my viewpoints on the issues under discussion but did not totally disagree with those of the interviewers as a matter can be seen from different perspectives. I also refrained from answering the questions for which I had no clue and dealt with the situation confidently. I think, it is always better to be original and to avoid any fake gestures and opinions.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
US: The credit for my success goes to my family for their continuous support and prayers and to my teachers and friends for their motivation and encouragement.
My Interview Experience
Since my educational background was agriculture-related, my interview was mostly centred on “Agriculture in Pakistan”. All the panellists (save the Chairman) had already noted down their questions on agriculture. Some of the questions were:
- What are the major problems of agriculture in Pakistan?
- When per acre yield is increasing, why the farmers are getting poorer day by day?
- Which mechanism is in place in Pakistan to check the pesticide residue in crops?
- What are the major diseases of mango in Pakistan?
- What challenges do Pakistani farmers face in export of their commodities?
- Some questions were on some technical terms of agriculture.
- The panellists asked some other questions which are as under:
- What are the rights of minorities given in Objectives Resolution?
- What is PEEDA?
- How many Governor-Generals did Pakistan have? Name them.
- Should government allow Gen Raheel Sharif to head the Islamic Military Alliance?
- Why could not United States gain any major success in Afghanistan?
- How do you see the recruitment process of PPSC?
- Overall, I excused answering 5-6 questions about which I had no idea.
Focus on polishing your writing skills. Choose your optional subjects wisely. Never feel dejected by initial failures. Persistence and continuous struggle make the key to success in competitive exams.