In Conversation With
25th in Punjab, PMS 2017-18
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Muhammad Qasim (MQ): I hail from Bhakkar district. I studied there at District Public School till intermediate. Later, I obtained bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from CIIT Abbottabad campus. Right after that, I worked for a federal government organization for 6 years before joining Government of the Punjab as a PMS Officer.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
MQ: I prepared for PMS exam at a place that was far away from big cities, and JWT was helpful for me as it provided a recap of all the important current affairs events at one place. Especially, MCQs were very helpful in order to test my command over current affair.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
MQ: For compulsory subjects, going through the basics of a particular subject is very important to understand pertinent theoretical perspectives. It enables one to delve further into the subject and prepare advanced, applied and current topics in that subject. Going through entire syllabus and past papers, and taking mock exams is also recommended.
For General Knowledge paper, one must keep on verifying one’s knowledge from time to time. Google is a very good source for that. Moreover, staying informed about what is happening around in the world, and regular reading of the newspapers also helps.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
MQ: For securing maximum marks in written part of PMS examination, relevancy is the key. The answer must not go beyond the bounds defined in the question. Similarly, no part of the question statement should go unanswered. Opinion-based questions can be treated like a short essay. Besides that, all answers should have a conclusive ending. Giving relevant headings, diagrams, maps and charts does also make a difference.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
MQ: I would again say that relevance is the key. I made an outline that did not deviate from the topic statement. I identified main variables of the essay and made main bullets accordingly. The introduction was a brief overview of the essay and it ended with a thesis statement. I focused on coherence, clarity and relevance throughout the essay. In the end, I proofread my essay for any mistakes and corrected a few.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
MQ: I went through several past papers of FPSC and PPSC, and identified a few areas to prepare. I prepared from several online resources for general knowledge/science/arithmetic MCQs. MCQs from past papers of geography/Islamic Studies/Current Affairs for CSS also helped a lot. Similarly, general science questions can be prepared or revised from textbooks for 9th and 10th grade.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
MQ: Adhering to time limit is more important than word limit. Equal time should be allocated to all the questions. It will produce answers of equal length with little variation.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
MQ: In my opinion, a candidate appearing in competitive exams should be able to express himself in English without any problem. Provided the disparity in availability of preparation material in both languages, it is better to prepare and attempt optional subjects in English. However, the content and presentation weighs more than the language you opt.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
MQ: There are several factors that may be considered. First is the educational background of a candidate. Some subjects are more familiar than others. Candidates must see that the subjects they choose should suit their temperament, interest and abilities. Besides that, recent scoring trends also matter to a certain extent.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
MQ: The credit for my success goes to my elders who have taught me to read and write, and always urged me to learn things on my own. I owe a lot to my uncle Commander M. Suleman Askari as he instilled in me the habit of reading. I must mention my respectable colleague Mr Sadam Hussain for his kind help and motivation throughout the preparation phase.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
MQ: Interviewers grill and ask back-to-back questions to gauge the depth of knowledge and strength of nerves of a candidate. When one has an answer, one must respond with due composure. When one doesn’t know the answer, one must admit without losing a smiling face and confidence. One should try to remain energetic and positive throughout the session.
Competitive exams are an equal opportunity platform. Anyone, who is hard working, can ace these exams. The exam is just as difficult as a final exam of a bachelor’s degree. To make a difference, candidates should study thoroughly and from various sources.
Candidates should also focus on their writing skills. Solving past papers within 3 hour time limit is a good way to improve one’s writing capacity. Candidates may also take up some creative writing on their own and get it checked.
Those who make it to the interview stage have already proved their mettle in written exams, therefore they must believe in their abilities. They are as competent as any other candidate. They have an equal opportunity to do their best in the interview. Therefore, they must not lose hope, do their best and leave the rest to the Almighty.
My Interview Experience
It was a great experience. As I already had a government job matching my qualification, I had to justify myself before worthy chairman PPSC as why I wanted to switch careers. I was asked several opinion-based questions regarding social issues such as poverty, gender disparity, domestic issues etc. and other issues such as energy crisis, law and order and economy. As I had opted for Public Administration as an optional subject, I had a very healthy discussion with the interview penal about an ideal civil servant, hurdles in public service delivery, devolution of powers, accountability and local governments. It ended on a positive note.