In Conversation With Sadia Hussain Dogar 22nd in Punjab,PMS 2018-19
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Sadia Hussain Dogar (SHD): I attended Queen Marry School, Lahore, and Divisional Public School, Kasur. Later, I went to Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, from where I did my MPhil in Media Studies.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
SHD: Time is the most precious resource for an aspirant of competitive exams. Any source which provides authentic, well-researched content is a great help. I used to get the All-in-One edition of JWT magazine to have a look at everything relevant to the exam, from current affairs to economics, from subject-related articles to General Knowledge. And, of course, the section containing interviews of CSS/PMS officers always provided much-needed motivation and inspiration. I came to WTI for Mock Interview Session, and encouraging comments from the panellists here really helped boost my confidence for the final viva voce.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
SHD: I believe, for compulsory subjects one ought to have in-depth knowledge of the subject at hand, as it is observed that in any given year, one or two compulsory papers are tricky, and superficial knowledge would not suffice there. The basics of compulsory subjects should, obviously, be clear, and one should have an analytical approach while answering questions. This could only be achieved after extensive study. For English Essay and English Précis papers, grammar, sentence structure, relevance and coherence of ideas are the key areas to be focused on. Short, bullet notes with updated information help in the revision of compulsory subjects during stressful days of the exams.
For GK, there is no shortcut, one has to have a conceptual understanding of subjects like basic geography, everyday science, etc. and to retain information regarding capitals, currencies, international organizations’ headquarters, etc. There is no substitute for periodic revisions.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
SHD: A balance of quality and quantity does the trick. Moreover, understanding the question statement is crucial to writing relevant and to-the-point information only. The role of time management and giving equal attention to all questions cannot be overemphasized. To stand out, every argument in your answer should be backed by research-based facts and figures with proper references, pertinent examples, and your analyses on the issue.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
SHD: Essay writing is, undoubtedly, an art. And to master this art, practice is crucial. The coherence of ideas, natural flow of thoughts, and a good vocabulary help in writing a good essay. I made a detailed outline and backed my arguments in the main body of the essay with facts and figures. In my opinion, paragraphs should be more or less of the same length and each paragraph should be linked to the preceding and succeeding ones. Each argument and paragraph should support the main argument or thesis statement of your essay. If one can justify the thesis statement and doesn’t make basic grammatical and syntax mistakes, there are bright chances of one’s success in the Essay paper.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
SHD: General knowledge is the basic filter in PMS exam. For this paper, I used to make short notes on various sub-areas of the subject like geography, science, maths, current affairs and Pakistan affairs. I used to keep a journal for revisions and used to update that periodically. Moreover, YouTube videos and internet sources, including Online GK tests, help boost your knowledge and confidence in the subject.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SHD: Having established that quantity is not a substitute for quality in competitive exams, it is apt to say that anything between 7 and 9 pages of a well-structured and relevant answer should be an ideal length.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
SHD: In my opinion, one should opt for English. The sole reason for that is the availability of good-quality content in that language.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
SHD: There are multiple factors involved here, including educational background, personal interest, scoring trend and one’s aptitude. I chose Mass Communication because I had a degree in that. I chose Education because I was part of academia back then, and I thought this subject would help me in my career in education even if I don’t make it to the list of allocated candidates. I chose Social Work because I had an interest in the subject. So, whatever subjects you choose, you should have a rationale for that. Following the herd is never a wise strategy in this regard.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
SHD: My success hasn’t been possible without countless blessings of Almighty Allah. Then, the credit for it goes to my family, especially my father who always had my back. My father had an unflinching belief in my abilities and always helped me cope with initial failures. Without his support, I wouldn’t have been here. I also owe my success to my mentors and teachers who helped me ace this exam.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
SHD: I think, the interview is all about your personality and pressure-handling. If you do not take pressure in initial tough questions, you set the tone right. Initially, Seerat Asghar sahib did pose some tricky questions from history, I handled those well and was able to diffuse the pressure.