“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential … these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius
Competitive Examination (CSS) 2017 for recruitment to posts in the Civil Service of Pakistan is just around the corner. Thousands of aspirants across Pakistan are standing at the door to a bright future—the CSS exam—as on the other side of it there are countless opportunities to make their dreams of a distinguished, glittering career and a rewarding life come true. This door will open but only to a few, and you will surely desire to be among those lucky individuals. Although being on the other side of the door is, apparently, an arduous task, yet iit can be a smooth sailing but for that purpose, you need to be smart, judicious and astute while translating the knowledge you gained during the preparation phase into words on the answer sheet. It’s a life-changing exam and is worth your best efforts. And, to augment your best efforts, Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) has always been at the forefront.
Carrying on the glorious tradition of inspiring and guiding CSS aspirants, and then steering them toward success, the JWT, after consultation with senior examiners, veteran CSS mentors and position-holders of past years, hereby presents some useful tips that will, surely, come in handy for you during the course of attempting the papers.
First, and probably the most important tip, is a simple three-word advice: JUST DON’T PANIC! When you will see the actual question paper, you, like a vast majority of aspirants, will have a feeling as if you don’t know the answers. It happens; it’s not an unusual thing. And, to cope with this situation, you need to be positive. Just relax for a minute or two. Re-read the question paper and you will feel it’s not that difficult and that you got it wrong in the first reading. Then, read all the questions carefully once again.
Second step is to get the crux of the queries the examiner has put in the form of questions—or topics for English Essay paper—as it will help you to decide as to what are the questions you will be writing your answers on. Keep one thing in mind while making a decision: you have to hit the bull’s eye to impress the examiner as it’s the only key to getting excellent marks.
Third tip is on your writing style. Your writing should be perfectly legible—if it is beautiful, it’s always an added advantage. Write outline for your essay and introductory paragraphs for essay as well as for all other papers so smartly that the examiner gets a gut feeling that you possess the knowledge and know the exact answer he wanted to elicit from you. Similarly, the recommendations or suggestions you provide should be based on facts, ground realities and should evince your sound reasoning and judgement skills. Likewise, writing impressive conclusion is also highly important as this part is, in essence, a summary of the detailed answer you have provided in the preceding paragraphs. This must be an excerpt summarising your thoughts.
Next is the important matter of time management. It is often observed that aspirants get indulged into unnecessary details and produce inordinately long answers. It’s a fatal mistake. Save one or two, all question papers clearly state “All Questions Carry Equal Marks”; and what it exactly means is that all questions need equal time. So, divide your time prudently, don’t deviate from the topic and be to the point. In a nutshell, you must stay focused on the topic you are writing on. Don’t dawdle, don’t beat about the bush and just don’t digress. Bear only one thing in mind: you must answer the required number of questions to have a fair chance of getting through.
Presentation is another key factor in deciding the fate of your paper. For an effective presentation, provide maximum headings in all papers, except English Essay. It’s always advisable that a paragraph comprises five or six lines under one heading. This makes it easier for the examiner to get a better idea of your opinions—almost a guarantee to get high scores. Your answers should also contain flowcharts, diagrams and maps, where necessary and where possible.
Last, but certainly not least, is the thing to the importance of which most aspirants remain oblivious and it is providing correct references and quotes. First of all, your reference(s) should be from authentic sources i.e. data published by governments or institutions having international repute. Providing inauthentic facts and figures and unknown or lesser references won’t work; rather doing so would be suicidal. If you don’t know the exact reference, leave it.
In fine, getting through written part of CSS exam is an art and to notch up success in it, you need to be better than the rest of the lot. “So be sure when you step, step with great tact,” says Dr Seuss. And, it’s the greatest recipe for success.