In Conversation with
ATIQUE UR REHMAN (PSP)
33rd in Pakistan, CSS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Atique ur Rehman (AR): I did my matriculation from Misali Ravian School, Sargodha. Afterwards, I got a degree from GC University, Lahore. Later, I did my master’s in history from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
AR: PSP offers a proactive field job. Immediate resolving of issues is its speciality. Social recognition and thrill provides an impetus to civil servants for the materialization of their potential. The great honour of being the protector of society is attached with PSP.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation for CSS exam? And, how was your experience in the World Times Institute (WTI)?
AR: JWT magazine proved very helpful as I used to read it monthly. This magazine highlights significant issues that are most relevant to CSS exam. Interviews of CSPs have helped me to spend my energy in the right direction. GK is also timely published in it.
Insofar as WTI is concerned, its admin and mentors helped me a lot during my interview preparation. They encouraged me by truly recognizing my intellectual potential. They also worked on improving my communication skills.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
AR: I would say ‘don’t over burden yourself with extensive knowledge’ as you would be vulnerable to confusion. Consulting FPSC-recommended books is always preferable during preparation for this prestigious exam. Books that are research-oriented and also provoke critical thinking are best to read. Clarity of ideas and thoughts you express is highly required as examiners hate ambiguity. You have to give an impression that you have specialization in the subject and it will happen only if you put relevant glossary and ideas in your answer.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
AR: Each compulsory subject requires a different technique. Essay requires extensive practice, expressive writing, observation power and relevance. For general knowledge subjects, input from history, research articles and books of foreign authors is almost indispensable. Do substantiate your answers with case studies and theoretical knowledge. I would recommend extensive reading in accordance with course outline of a subject.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
AR: It was my subconsciously and culturally-developed dream to join PSP. Although there was uncertainty, fear of failure, obsession and problems related to mobility, yet I was able to overcome all these negativities. To overcome these negative vibes and lack of confidence, we have to apply our bookish knowledge to groom our personality. Emotional factors also play an important role so we must try to set dreams and involve emotions.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
AR: First of all, break the question into keywords, which will be become your main headings. Then, support each heading with subheadings and support them with arguments, quotes, historical incidents, etc. From start to the end, one should stay focused on the headings.
While shifting from one idea to another, there should be a careful transition without giving examiner the chance of losing interest. Also, the answers must be clear and comprehensive with good presentation.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
AR: Examiners count number of ideas, not pages. At the end, it is the quality that really matters. In order to give equal time to every question, one may set a standard limit depending on the writing and its density. In my case, it was 5 pages for each answer.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay? And, what was your strategy for Précis and Composition paper?
AR: I wrote essay on “Democracy and illiteracy can’t move together”. I made a comprehensive and multidimensional outline involving case studies and theoretical portion like how liberals think and how fascists think. I applied question method in introduction and summarized complete outline in introduction. My conclusion was the optimistic reproduction of introduction. I used simple English language and quoted my personal observations. All examples which I quoted were drawn from my individual observation. I was more expressive than being impressive.
For Précis and Composition paper, practice précis as much as you can, and get your work reviewed by your study partner/teacher/friend. For composition, I looked through the 4000-word list but did not memorize that. You can also go through the idioms list, sentence correction rules, etc. and do practice exercises from a reputed book.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations for CSS exam?
AR: A new aspirant should start preparation by reading Dawn, listening to English-language news and consulting at least one book of general knowledge. Then, he must start reading basic school-level books. Every day, one should practice writing in order to improve grammar and expression. One must read books on history and search online for all major theoretical ideas, definitions and “isms”.
JWT: What areas should new aspirants focus while preparing for the CSS exam?
AR: Firstly, you should work on your English skills and learn how to be more expressive, analytical and demonstrative in expressing your thoughts. Secondly, you must have your own opinion on the issues of importance whether national or global. Do ensure that you have the energy to do what you have in mind as CSS is an exam of nerves.
Selection of optional subjects
I think, selection of optional subjects highly matters. Although my subject combination wasn’t good in 2019, yet I was able to get good score because of my interest in my optional subjects. Try to opt for subjects by keeping in mind that whether you possess basic knowledge in that subject. Academic background and suitability must be taken into view.
I actually believe in revision of books again and again rather than making notes. Our first interpretation gets changed when we read a book second time. Therefore, time must be saved to read extra things than memorizing notes.
Advice for fresh aspirants
Develop a habit of researching on and observing issues at national and global level. Try to build your own opinion on every issue. Take CSS as an exam as if it involves change of personality. Do also include exam and academic things in your routine life.
My interview started when Mr Chairman welcomed me and asked for my introduction. Most part of my interview revolved around European and ancient history. Then, I was asked about my personal information. The penal also asked questions related to Punjabi writers and poets. Atmosphere was very cordial. They usually ask questions from candidates’ strong areas or from high-scoring optional subjects. Natural behavior and supreme confidence are required.