In Conversation With ALI Fahad (FSP) 60th in Pakistan CSS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Ali Fahad (AF): I did my graduation from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, in Mechanical Engineering. After that, I also did LLB from University of the Punjab and Master’s in Engineering Management from UET, Lahore.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
AF: Foreign Service of Pakistan provides you with opportunities to serve and represent Pakistan across the globe in different capacities. This gives a massive exposure and a chance to interact with people coming from various cultures.
AF: JWT magazine was very helpful during preparation for written exam. It contains articles on latest issues and GK, and also highlights important areas for optional subjects. As for World Times Institute, I must say the faculty there was very helpful in actualization of my potential during written exam and viva voce. Rigorous Mock Test series and interviews at WTI prepare you well for this life-changing exam.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
AF: Consistency, time management and reading quality material make the only key to securing good marks in written examination. Books recommended by Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) as well as quality research articles develop your critical thinking and provide you with ideas and arguments for you answer.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
AF: Each compulsory subject requires a different strategy. Essay and Précis papers need continuous practice and evaluation. Current Affairs and Pakistan Affairs need extensive reading and keeping up to date with global and national issues. Ability portion in General Science and Ability paper is usually ignored by aspirants, but it is vital to score good in this very paper.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
AF: Read the question carefully and break that down into keywords. Address every component of the question and make headings for the keywords and also give subheadings. Support your answer with quotes, facts, examples, charts, etc. Your answer should be comprehensive and it must reflect clarity of thoughts.
AF: There is no defined word limit for writing answers; it depends on how much is asked in a question. Every question requires a different level of treatment. However, equal time should be allotted to each question.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
AF: I wrote essay on ‘New Waves of Feminism and Our Culture’. I structured the essay with a brief idea about previous waves of feminism and then highlighted the agenda of new waves of feminism, relating my stance to the Pakistani culture as well. Then, I outlined the issues and reasons for the backlash against new waves agenda in Pakistan. I developed a comprehensive outline containing thesis statement.
For Précis paper, I consulted past papers, and teachers for evaluation.
My interview Experience
My interview started with introduction and then a few follow-up questions from it. Mr Chairman discussed the profile in detail and asked about the reason behind choosing my optional subjects. Then, there were questions from current issues, optional subjects and my education and previous job experiences from different panellists. In the end, questions related to hobbies and interests were asked by Mr Chairman.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations for CSS exam?
AF: New aspirants should start preparations for this prestigious exam by reading newspapers and watching ‘infomentries’ and quality talk shows. Read at least one book each for general knowledge and History of Pakistan. Also, develop a habit of writing regularly.
JWT: What areas should the new aspirants focus while preparing for the CSS exam?
AF: New aspirants should focus on their English skills and get their writings evaluated by any good teacher. They must learn the art of time management to answer all the questions in the allotted time. Moreover, they should develop a habit of writing and keeping themselves updated on current affairs.
Advice for fresh Aspirants
Develop the habit of reading and researching. Try to make your own notes. Focus on targets, and categorize them on daily, weekly and monthly basis. The process can be overwhelming sometime, so be patient and consistent. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself.