10 Questions with Usman Ashraf (3rd Position CSS 2013)

“Jahangir’s World Times is an informative and knowledge-oriented magazine that is tailor-made for the aspirants of competitive exams.”


Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): For the interest of all the prospective aspirants, especially the JWT readers, please tell us about your academic background.

Usman Ashraf (UA): I got my early education from Army Public School Mangla Cantt from where I did Matriculation whereas I did my F.Sc. Pre-Engineering from Federal Government College Mangla Cantt. Later, I graduated from National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Islamabad, with a degree in Electronics Engineering.

JWT: As you said, you have a professional degree from one of Pakistan’s best engineering universities, then why did you decide to join the Civil Services?

UA: I feel privileged to have studied at NUST; one of the premier universities of Pakistan. Actually, having a professional degree at my CV gave me the confidence to realize all my dreams in life. My experience at NUST has gone a long way in broadening my vision and it inculcated in me the abilities of critical analysis and problem solving.

As regards joining the Civil Services, I always aspired to be a part of the policy making and implementation mechanism of Pakistan. I always dreamed to deal with the issues and problems of the masses directly.

JWT: Your thoughts may become a source of inspiration to many and they may opt to go for the CSS. What would be your advice to such aspirants?

UA: Motivation and self-discipline are the two basic ingredients of preparation for CSS exam. I would say that do have unrelenting faith in your abilities. Stay focused. Strive with complete dedication and devotion. Perseverance does pay off ultimately.
I would also advise the aspirants to choose their subjects wisely and to seek advice from seniors and experienced mentors. Please avoid jumping on the bandwagon and maintain individuality to outshine others. Do remember that thousands take this exam but only a few could manage to get through.

JWT: How do you see Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) as an ultimate source of guidance for the aspirants?

UA: Jahangir’s World Times is an informative and knowledge-oriented magazine that is tailor-made for the aspirants of competitive exams, especially CSS. It provides a wholesome dosage of news, views, reviews and analyses, and helps in keeping abreast of the developments in the world around.

JWT: Do you feel it necessary to join some academy or seek guidance from mentors?

UA: I don’t think it is inevitable to take coaching classes from academies or individual mentors. There is no standard formula for success in CSS exam. Having said that, I do believe that proper and targeted guidance, according to one’s needs, always comes in handy. Every individual is unique and has his own strengths and limitations. One must not forget to capitalize on one’s strengths.

JWT: To whom would you give the credit of your success?

UA: First of all, I would like to thank Almighty Allah for bestowing on me this honour, and giving me the ability to make my dreams come true. I would also thank my parents, family, friends and teachers who have always guided and supported me, believed in my abilities, and stood by me through thick and thin.

JWT: What is the best viable strategy for the English Essay because most candidates flunk it? How did you get excellent marks in this very paper?

UA: English Essay is, no doubt, the most crucial paper. Actually, all the compulsory and optional subjects as well as your knowledge, observations and experiences make the raw material for this paper.

First of all, I would say that the topic must be chosen astutely. Then, as far as presentation is concerned, the outline is very important and brainstorming plays a vital role in writing a broad outline for the essay. In addition, only relevant-to-the-topic and grammatically correct material would yield good score. Logic, coherence and consistency of thought also need to be taken care of. One needs to adopt an analytical approach instead, with facts, quotes, and references as supplementary material for the argument. Well-presented introduction and conclusion and maintenance of basic structure of essay are vital.
The best way to have confidence for English essay is to practice as much as one can.

JWT: How did you get high scores in Punjabi as well as Arabic?

UA: Punjabi and Arabic are the subjects related to languages. So, to prepare well, you need to have some interest in literature. The material consulted must be from authentic sources and renowned authors. The presentation of the answers must be well thought out, structured and properly embellished with quotes, poetry and references.

JWT: How one should crack English Précis and Composition paper?

UA: This paper is the test of your command over the language. As the name suggests, précis, comprehension and composition are its basic ingredients. The rest of the questions, i.e. vocabulary, idioms, correction of sentences etc., can really make a difference at the end of the day. If you can make the most out of them, your chances of getting good score would be very bright.

JWT: How would you describe your interaction with the FPSC panel for interview?

UA: I enjoyed the whole process, especially the psychological assessment. The activities involved in psychological assessment went really well. Though I got a little late on the first day, yet I kept calm and completed the activities within time.

As regards interview, candidly speaking, it didn’t go well. It started off with the Chairman giving me tough time including a debate regarding my subject selection and decision to go for CSS despite being an engineer. At another point, one of the members said that I was being harsh on the politicians. I frankly said that I am not satisfied with their performance. I also faced some degree of difficulty in communicating with one of the members in the sense that I was not being able to complete my point before the next question was put. Apart from this, the discussion on topics such as presidential or parliamentary form of government in Pakistan, shifting of world focus to Pacific Ocean, role of politicians and bureaucracy, local governments in Pakistan, role of UN went reasonably well.

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