I appeared twice for mock exams conducted by World Times Institute and that gave me a real motivation to appear in actual CSS exam with great confidence and strong determination.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Sarmad ALi (SA): I did my matriculation and intermediate from Larkana Board. Then, I got selected in NED University of Engineering and Technology in Civil Engineering department from where in did my graduation in engineering.
JWT: As you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
SA: Diversity of experience, variety of job description, quick service delivery, opportunity to implement and formulate policies, smooth career progression: these are some of the features that attracted me most to PAS. Moreover, it is the Service that provides an officer with ample opportunities to serve in different capacities and for his/her personal intellectual uplift throughout the career.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
SA: I appeared twice for mock exams conducted by World Times Institute and that gave me a real motivation to appear in actual CSS exam with great confidence and strong determination. During preparation for interview, WTI team guided me at every step. The dedicated members of faculty, especially Sir Osman Khan and Ms Tehmina Habib provided me with a road map to move in the right direction that, surely, boosted my confidence level.
As far as JWT magazine is concerned, it helped me a lot during my preparation for 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?
SA: I would say it is a six-step approach which consists of: (1) Well-prepared MCQs; (2) apt choice of optional subjects; (3) proper selection of recommend books. (4) skilfully made short notes; (5) maximum writing practice; and (6) attending mock exams conducted by JWT.
SA: I divided compulsory subjects into three parts: (a) English papers; (b) General Knowledge; and (c) Islamiate. I worked more on three GK papers so as to ensure that I get maximum marks in those. I paid special attention on improving my expression as well as style of writing, and for that purpose, I practiced a lot. For Islamiat, I memorized maximum relevant verses of the holy Quran and also various ahadith. Past papers and sticking to the syllabus helped me a lot in this regard.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
SA: In this context, I would say only one line: the will to succeed should be stronger than the fear of failure. Everything else will be properly managed.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
SA: Select four questions that you are going to attempt. Make rough outlines of those on backside of the answer sheet. Each answer should be of almost equal length. Support your answers with charts, diagrams, quotes, references and strong arguments. Mere description of your knowledge won’t fetch good marks.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SA: Not word limit, but page limit! I would recommend approximately 6 pages for each answer.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
SA: Essay is a game of nerves because it’s the first paper. I did a lot of writing practice, because I believed it could make the difference. I wrote a good number of essays and got those checked by a good teacher, or sometimes a mentor or a senior.
As far as English Précis and Composition paper is concerned, I divided it into three parts: (a) précis, comprehension and translation; (b) vocabulary; and (c) grammar. I prepared each portion keeping in view the past papers as well as the syllabus.
JWT: How did you handle de-motivations, you faced?
SFS: De-motivation is one of the constants especially when you are preparing for such a prestigious and tough competitive exam. Poetry of Allama Iqbal, quotes of Will Durant and Bertrand Russell, passion for travelling, support of closed friends and family, and an aim of getting through CSS always pushed me ahead and kept me motivated during my CSS journey.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his preparation?
SA: A new aspirant should start by reading editorials and articles form daily Dawn and JWT magazine. (S)he should write at least one paragraph on any current issue daily and also watch discussions and debates on politics, religion, history and related areas on various media outlets.
My tips on: Selection of optional subjects
Three things that must be kept in mind for that are personal interest, academic background and the scoring trend.
Short notes are a must. Make your own notes from different sources as they will help you a great deal during revision.
There should be at least three revisions for each subject.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
Before making up your mind for CSS, make sure you are not forced to do it or you are not there because of peer or family pressure. You need to have a strong will and great determination for CSS. Be ready to face setbacks; once you enter, you will never give up on your way. It’s a journey and it should be achieved with grace. Khalil Jibran says, “Out of suffering have emerged strong souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
My interview experience
First of all, many congratulations to those who have qualified the written part of CSS 2018 exam! They are soon going to appear for interview. To them, I would say that interview is all about confidence and a strong confidence develops with proper knowledge and guidance. For that, experiences of those who have already qualified will help you a lot. Moreover, guidance of WTI team for interview preparation will also be very helpful. It’s time to speak as much as you can before a group of people or in front of a mirror. Your demeanour and personality should reflect grace and determination. Success lies beyond your fears.