JWT is one of the best magazines for CSS aspirants. It helped me a lot during my preparation for CSS written exam as well as for interview.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Bakhtiar Ismail (BI): I received my early education from my hometown, Turbat, and Bachelor’s from the University of Balochistan. I ran extra miles for acquiring education, from Turbat to Quetta and then to Islamabad. I did my master’s degree in Anthropology from QAU, Islamabad with top distinction.
JWT: As you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
BI: Pakistan Administrative Service offers vertical and horizontal professional mobility. Hailing from the far-flung area of Pakistan and its most backward province, i.e. Balochistan, I personally witnessed a wide gap between public and government in civil service. This motivated me to pursue a career where I could play a positive role and bridge the gap for holistic development.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute? And, how much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation for CSS exam?
BI: Although I could not find an opportunity to study at WTI, I found it well structured and very organized. As for JWT magazine, like other aspirants, I greatly relied on it. JWT always provided the relevant topics which could further be explored and studied. It is one of the best magazines for CSS aspirants. It helped me a lot during my preparation for CSS written exam as well as for interview.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
BI: While studying Anthropology, I learned that theoretical frame is always important to study and grasp a topic fully. Writing without framework is like writing in a vacuum. Thus, this was the first and foremost difference. The next distinctiveness was the concept of Relativity proposed by Franz Boas which helps you in developing good analytical power and to see both sides of a picture. The third difference is presentation. It plays a significant role in earning good marks. I brought all these points into practice which definitely, is a must.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
BI: It depends on the aspirant how (s)he distinguishes his/her papers with uniqueness and bring the checkers to a point where they buy his/her arguments and thoughts. While writing my answers, I have been simple, clear and to the point. That is why I have scored comparatively better in compulsory subjects than the optional ones.
JWT: How answers should be written to get excellent marks?
BI: Answers should always be simple, clear and comprehensive. With some good command of paper presentation, one can score fairly well. I personally believe one must use specific terms and jargons, where needed.
BI: There should always be some word and page limits. Most aspirants fill 5-7 pages while attempting the first question but avoid the breakdown of the word and page limits for the second, third or fourth questions. Therefore, a synchronized word and page limits should be followed so that the examiner does not get an impression that the aspirant had good command on one question, and not on the others.
JWT: Since you have secured excellent marks in English Essay paper, how did you structure the Essay? And, what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
BI: Let me answer them separately.
Essay is the very paper most aspirants fail. Reason? Lack of practice! Most aspirants know the reason but still they do not practice. If one cannot practice a long essay daily, one should write, at least, outline, introduction and conclusion daily, and practice a long essay once or twice a week. I did the same and when I sat to structure my essay, I did not face any problem in generating ideas and structuring them instantly.
As for Précis and Composition paper, one should solve past papers for practice.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparation?
BI: There are a few things all prospective aspirants must do to prepare for CSS exam. First, they should read novels as this helps you in developing your interests, comprehension power, vocabulary and, above all, bringing a literary hue to your writing.
Second, reading Dawn newspaper and English magazines like JWT can also be very beneficial. It greatly helps you in preparing for crucial papers like Current Affairs, English Essay, and other compulsory and optional subjects.
Third, an aspirant should keep a diary and write day-to-day affairs in that. This is a good way to develop writing ability without fear of mistakes of grammar and syntax in the beginning. In this context, I would strongly recommend writing and practicing short sentences and being precise. As a famous Shakespearean saying goes, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
My Tips on: Selection of optional subjects
Some aspirants follow the scoring trend while others rely solely on interest-based optional subjects. However, it is equally important to consider both. Go for the subjects that co-relate and complement one another.
I would recommend the aspirants to make outlines of each question from the past papers. Also, make notes, instantly, of everything you read. For instance, if you have read an article on NFC Award, do explore its holistic perspectives and angles and jot down important facts and figures in a register or notebook. It helps a great deal in revising at the end of the day.
My advice for fresh aspirants
If you fasten your belt for the long and turbulent journey of any competitive exam, including CSS, you should be mentally prepared that it may take a longer than you expect. You may face failure and criticism, but keep a firm faith in your strength. Some may succeed earlier while for others, success may take a bit longer; however, everyone achieves something at the end of the journey.
My Interview Experience
I had appeared in a lot of interviews and from my experience, I have deduced three things: Appearance, Confidence and Content.
As far as the first is concerned, you should look civilized, professional and humble with your dress, hairstyle and attitude.
The second is critical because it is natural to get tense and worried while facing the people who would decide your fate, i.e. interview panellists. Remember, they are looking for professionals; so, neither get nervous nor look excited. Be composed and stay calm throughout the process. In addition, I would suggest you to understand the questions first. If there is any problem in comprehending that, you may formally request panellists to rephrase the question. If it still is not clear, you can say sorry. There is no shame in it. The panellists know that qualifiers are humans, after all, and they cannot be know-it-all. They just observe how aptly an aspirant tackles and answers a question.