In Conversation With
Muhammad Saqib Trazi
9th in Punjab, PMS 2019-20
Catchline: The competitive environment at World Times Institute sensitised me with the required input and efforts to overcome weaknesses to finally secure the merit in the exam.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Muhammad Saqib Trazi (MST): I matriculated from a local government school in Lahore and done intermediate from Punjab College. Having aced the CAT within six months, I started my ACCA. Next, I earned my MA Political Science degree with third position from University of the Punjab, Lahore.
JWT: How much helpful did you find World Times Institute in your preparation for PMS exam?
MST: World Times Institute was quite facilitating with its teaching faculty and academic ambience. The competitive environment sensitised me with the required input and efforts to overcome weaknesses to finally secure the merit in the exam.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
MST: The amalgam of reading and writing is a foundation on which this whole edifice of success in this competitive exam is built, I realise. Structure the answer in compulsories, particularly pay heed to introduction. Be simple and be sure of your answer. Get your answers evaluated from teachers during the preparation phase. Analyse weak spots in the answers and deal with them. As of GK, visualising the key facts, drawing maps, and relating the facts with other compulsories helped me pass this paper.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
MST: A properly-structured answer with well-stuffed content catches the examiner’s eye. Comprehend the question and brainstorm its possible aspects. Then, write the answer with utmost confidence. Introductions determine the scores. Be relevant in them without limiting the number of pages or length of the paragraph. Diversify them by stating opinions than relying on quotations.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
MST: As essay is an academic form of writing, its universal structure must be followed. Digression from the structure may be penalised. While writing introduction to the essay, I elaborated the topic with its possible shades of meaning. Then, I clearly stated my thesis statement around which the essay revolved. I believe that clear stance on the chosen topic, simple approach to paragraph construction, and relevant transitions of arguments reflected in my essay structure.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
MST: I planned to limit myself to only passing marks because I know that I can’t battle with this paper. Consulting the PPSC Big Book, GK by Sir Abdur Rasheed (both published by World Times Publications), and newspapers were my basic sources.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
MST: Writing is an expression of your reading on the topic. “The more, the merrier” applies here but within the allotted time. Prudently dividing the time to each question is vital to getting high scores. Writing speed and flow of thoughts decide how much time is there to allocate.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
MST: This is entirely a personal choice. I don’t think examiners are biased towards either of them. Competency reflects itself on the paper regardless of the language one chooses.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
MST: Knowledge base and personal interest are the tools with which, I think, one should pick up one’s optional subjects for PMS exam. Trends might help, but they are not a sound basis to ignite the quest for building the competency. If the answers are not competent enough, one cannot score well to secure the merit. The end matters along with the means. The more one is happy and interested in reading and learning chosen subjects, the more one becomes competent. Therefore, know the knowledge base, build over it, and rely on your personal interest.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
MST: Everything flows down from Allah Almighty, I firmly believe. Along with it, my parents’ unwavering belief in me and unconditional love enabled me to be the very first civil servant across my generation. In the end, I would like to praise my tenacity for never giving up and optimism for always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
MST: Interviews are usually a litmus test for your communication skills. I first understood their questions, then remained original in my expression and gave brief yet impressive answers. Second, I managed to connect with the interviewers by maintaining eye contact, by matching their body languages, and by standing firm on my grounds. I think my confidence in letting them know what I know and what I don’t know was a defining trait of my interview experience. In the end, taking control of the interview in your hands helps driving the whole process. Acknowledge your shortcomings but compensate it with your confidence, and politely assert yourself in the interview.
Advice for Fresh Aspirants
Conquer your fears and steer your assumptions. Self-discipline is the tool that unlocks the hidden treasures in your selves.
I was getting pretty much tense when I saw candidates leaving the room with sloppy shoulders because they were perhaps tightly grilled inside there. I mustered my composure and distracted myself out of the situation before I entered the room. I had managed my negative assumptions before my name was called out.
I entered the room with determination and greeted the panel before they asked me to take the seat. As it was my second experience with the chairman, he instantly recognised me and inquired as to why I couldn’t get allocation in my previous attempt. Here lies the important turn. I didn’t blame anything or anybody but I took the full responsibility of my weak spot of scoring less in Punjabi. Then, he asked me about solving the pressing issue of low tax rate in the country. I outlined a few brief solutions.
Then Mr Chairman directed Mr Nasir Durrani to proceed with the interview. With him, it was a thorough discussion on Hong Kong issue, Turkey and USA in Syria and how it relates with Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamic history, and other relevant questions which I answered well. I clearly told him what I had read and what I had not, and it facilitated us both.
Next, I was directed towards Mr Seerat. I wanted to answer all his questions, so I had prepared well for his interests. Punjabi, public administration and psychology were my optional subjects; so, he touched all of these peripheries. When he asked me to differentiate between outcome and output in the public administration, I received his “shabaash” which touched every ear in the room. It was an energy-booster for me.
Last interviewer remained focused on political science and confronted me with some debate on the topic of sovereignty which transitioned towards treaties and American political system.
My interview went on for about 15 minutes and I enjoyed myself doing it. Although I couldn’t answer all the questions, my answers were extracts of my knowledge. These relevant extracts were the reason behind such a short, yet successful, interview.