Dr Zulqurnain Saleem Wattoo
7th in Punjab, PMS 2018-19
108th in Pakistan, CSS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Dr Zulqurnain Saleem Wattoo (DZSW): I was born in Bahawalnagar. I did my O and A levels from Sadiq Public School, Bahawalpur scoring 9 As in O level and 6 As in A level. I got admission to Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Medical & Dental College, Lahore and graduated from there in March 2015 with distinction. Later, I did my house and worked as Medical Officer for 3 years.
JWT: How was your experience of the preparation for PMS exam at the World Times Institute?
DZSW: I joined WTI back in 2016 during my house job, and got basic orientation and initial guidance on the competitive examination from the institute. I remember drawing inspiration from the pictures of the qualifiers hung in the corridor and promising myself getting a place there. Moreever, I appeared in all test series and mock examinations conducted by WTI, and the feedback I got helped me improve my attempting techniques. Moreover, mock interviews on the pattern of FPSC conditioned me to get a good score in the final interview.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
DZSW: Comprehensive reading in line with the syllabus and questions asked in the past papers. Make notes, choosing a core book and pasting sticky notes on it from other sources is a good strategy. Once syllabus is covered, getting one evaluated through mock exams before appearing in the actual examination not only enhances one’s confidence but also is good for revision. For instance, after in mocks, I learned that my notes are too lengthy to enable me revise the whole syllabus before the exams and I summarized them, accordingly.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
DZSW: Staying relevant is the key. For a 20-mark question, make at least ten headings. Read question thrice and specifically answer what is being asked. Writing 10 pages that are irrelevant would irritate the examiner rather bringing good scores. Another thing which I learnt from WTI mock exams (which candidates with A Level specifically are weak in) was appropriate paper presentation with an apt use of markers, diagrams and flowcharts.
DZSW: Staying simple, avoiding adventurism and making the right choice of topic is important. I believe outline is the decisive part; ergo, spent 30 minutes on it and made it as comprehensive, organised and thorough as I could so that the examiner is convinced at the start that he is assessing an erudite candidate. Remaining time is for writing paragraphs on the basis of the outline. Again, relevance matters, if the essay topic is “democracy and illiteracy cannot survive together,” develop the link between the two instead of writing thesis on democracy, and giving rosy definitions of democracy, e.g. for the people, by the people, blah, blah, blah.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
DZSW: During first reading, I marked the questions that were new to me with black, and marked them with red while reading it for the second time. Revised the questions marked with red the night before the exam. Encyclopaedia by World Times Publications was the one I followed.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
DZSW: For me, the number of pages or words is a myth. I believe, a question of 20 marks require ten-point discussion in a paragraph under a suitable heading. Adding a few quotations would be an icing on the top. This may take 4 pages for a few and most would not be able to do that in ten pages. If the examiner asks impacts of global warming, do not go in detail of what is global warming or waste pages in drawing greenhouse gas effect.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
DZSW: The medium should be the one through which you can easily express your thoughts.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
DZSW: One’s temperament and educational background must matter the most. Evaluate syllabus and the past papers and make a choice. No need to go in to complexities of high-scoring or low-scoring subjects. If one is comfortable and has prepared a particular subject well, one can always score high.
DZSW: My family that was besides me all the time. Sir Ahitsham had been excellent teacher. My study partners Hamza, Ibrar and Ali Hassan were a great support. My friends from 46th Common Anees, Aqsa, Waqas, Fareeha Waqar, and Usman had supported me when I went unallocated in CE-2017. Ms Tehmina, Adnan Bashir and Miss Iqra at WTI have facilitated me in all possible ways and I would never be able to repay them.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
DZSW: Staying composed is the key. Primarily, interview is not the test of your knowledge (which the written part is); it is the test of your composure, confidence attire and the personality. I mastered tackling such situations by appearing in the panel mock interviews. I would like to thank Ms Iqra for arranging them and Sir Kamran Ahmed for brushing up my skills.
Advice for Fresh Aspirants
Stay persistent and focused. You may see your batch-mates progressing in their career with you sitting in the library. Keep yourself motivated. It is better not to be active on social media. Make a group of serious friends and discuss among yourselves rather than studying alone.
My Interview Experience
Great experience! I expressed myself openly and engaged the panel. On the questions I did not know the answer for, I politely apologized.