In Conversation with
Muhammad Zahid Iqbal
27th in Punjab, PMS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Muhammad Zahid Iqbal (MZI): I hail from Mian Channu. I completed my studies till intermediate from my hometown. Later on, I got admission to Forman Christian College University, Lahore and did BS (Hons.) in Business Administration.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
MZI: As far as competitive exams are concerned, one needs relevant as well as focused content. You cannot rely on newspapers only. Therefore, I found JWT magazine to be quite helpful during my preparation. It provides valuable insights as regards the events taking place both domestically and internationally. Moreover, I joined WTI for my mock interviews, which was, indeed, a pleasant experience.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
MZI: For compulsory subjects, one should make short notes of every subject and revise the same at one’s convenience. Further, having sufficient knowledge on a certain subject is not productive unless you know how to make an appropriate sketch of that on paper. Therefore, your ‘presentation skills’ need to be up to the mark. One ought to focus on written practice in order to improve the same. Finally, quoting references plays a pivotal role.
General Knowledge paper in PMS exam is entirely different from other subjects. Negative marking keeps hanging like a sword of Damocles on candidates’ heads. So, one should prepare for GK paper topic-wise. There should be separate notebook for important and difficult questions; for it is much easier to revise them later on. Further, help can also be sought from internet to prepare for this crucial paper.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
MZI: First of all, do not jump the gun immediately. Read the question paper twice or even thrice. Clearly understand what the examiner expects from you. Typically, a question is divided into different parts and the examiner demands comprehensive answer to every part. Moreover, one should never compromise quality over quantity. Similarly, write self-explanatory headings as it will assist the examiner in getting your point more quickly. Last but not least, quotations are important when it comes to getting a good score.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
MZI: Be clear in your stance. There should be no ambiguity concerning your plan of action. Similarly, design your outline and introductory paragraph in such a way that the examiner instantly gets your point of view on that specific topic. One does not need to have extraordinary vocabulary to crack the essay paper. To sum up, a good essay must have: comprehensiveness, clarity, coherence and completeness.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
MZI: Undoubtedly, past papers provide a direction. I consulted as many past papers as I could. Since GK paper in PMS is considered a hard nut to crack, one needs to rely on more than one source. Therefore, past papers as well as internet provide a good combination to prepare for the GK paper. The key to pass this paper is to not attempt all the 100 questions, especially if you know only 30-40 answers.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
MZI: Time management is a crucial factor. All ideas and arguments must be finished in allotted time. In my papers, I never tried to fill sheets with irrelevant information as it would have been counterproductive. So, never compromise on quality.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
MZI: One should always try to attempt papers in English because there is scarcity of relevant content in Urdu. A commonly-held opinion is that attempting papers in English also affects the score. That is why most candidates go for English.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
MZI: The factors that must be kept in mind while choosing your optional subjects are: your background, personal interest, availability of good content on that subject and, finally, the scoring trend.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
MZI: Credit for my success goes to my family, especially my brother who kept me motivated at every step. Since I am the first person from my family to make it to a university, and the one to make it to civil service, it was a tough journey; nonetheless, my family has been supportive throughout this endeavour.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
MZI: Indeed, interview is a critical stage of PMS exam. I prepared all my optional subjects thoroughly. Mostly, questions are asked from one’s academic background. So, I prepared Political Science from every aspect. I remained composed and confident throughout my interview. As nobody is supposed to know each and everything that exists on the planet earth, I also excused a few questions, which were of objective nature.