Tips & Tricks for Compulsory Papers

Tips & Tricks for CSS Compulsory Papers

The written part of Competitive examination is considered the toughest one in all competitive exams in the country. With the start of the New Year, the aspirants would be gearing up for revisions and giving final shapes to their notes.

In this piece of writing, I shall try to discuss some tips for the aspirants to attempt compulsory papers. It has been observed that most people get fewer marks in compulsory papers. However, with an effective approach, a candidate can get reasonably high marks in these papers.

Compulsory subjects carry key significance in Competitive Examination. In many a cases, a brilliant candidate flunks in one compulsory paper despite getting very high score in all other papers. Contrarily, a higher score in these papers brings a candidate in top candidates. Therefore, the candidates are advised to focus more on compulsory papers.

General Tips for CSS Compulsory Papers

Preparation stage

Thorough preparation ‘targeted, not selective, study Consult good books for each subject

Prepare your own notes that must contain up-to-date and relevant information from authentic sources.

Practice your answers by solving past papers preferably in mock settings simulating examination in order to test yourself before the commencement of the real test.

Improve your presentation skills. In order to be successful in a competitive exam, a candidate has to put some extra effort to make his/her paper better than others. So, where studying good books enables a candidate to be better prepared, giving the answers with an excellent presentation is equally important for scoring higher marks.

During the Examination

Once in examination, you must keep plan for your paper

Read all questions carefully and select those questions which you have prepared the best. It is always handy to select one extra question

Explore your mind and gather all relevant points related to each topic

Prepare outlines for each answer based on Coherence, Relevancy, and Logical flow
You must have Supportive arguments for each point.

Make sure that you provide authentic and up-to-date information on the topic

Filter & refine your arguments and organize your answer in required order

In your argumentation, always follow a balanced approach. Especially in Current Affairs and Islamiyat papers, present positive ideas rather than pessimistic & belligerent ideology

Finally, review your outline before embarking upon an attempt

Attempt that question first for which you have best answer with most relevant and up-to-date information

English Essay

Essay paper is considered as the toughest nut to crack. It is believed that this very first paper decides whether one is going to pass the exam or not. Most of the candidates fail in this paper. It is because majority of the candidates produce crammed knowledge obtained from available stereo-type sources. They have invalid and expired pieces of information/knowledge without any sense to update it. They don’t express any knowledge of basic English grammar, punctuation and sentence formation. But a few good candidates were able to score excellent marks because they showed commendable originality of approach, precision of comprehension and clarity of expression. Their attempt was well-structured & articulate with an innovative style.

 Practice is the key in this segment. Try to solve all 40 past papers questions of precis and comprehension passages. Time management is very important in this paper as the precis passage mostly consumes around one hour.
 A glance at past papers of English Essay would reveal that the essay topics on which a candidate is asked to write are generally only one aspect of the issues that the candidate may have prepared. If the candidate does not make a distinction between the issue and the specific aspect(s) of that issue being asked in the paper, he is likely to annoy the examiner. Here it proves my point when I criticise the commercial aspects of so-called ‘precious notes’ and essay as the candidates cram these answers and write them as such in the paper. The very outline of these essays would be enough to depict whether a candidate has attempted it in a correct way.

Another important aspect is the length of essay. In my view it is quality and not the quantity that matters. Examiner usually sets a limit of 2500-3500 words limit to trap the candidates. But it would not bother him much if you put up a good effort which falls short of the words limit.

Tips for Essay

  1. Carefully read all essay tips and select those issues which you have prepared the best.
  2. Now select that essay which you can best at    tempt considering thoughtfully the aspect which is asked.
  3. Thoroughly explore your mind and bring out all relevant points of that issue on paper.
  4. Now pick those points which are most suitable for your outline.
  5. Make a logical outline depending solely upon the statement or topic of essay set by the examiner.
  6. Reconsider each point for its relevancy and order in the outline.
  7.  Review your points and see if the used words can be replaced with more catchy or striking words. Remember, outline is like a cover of your essay which clearly depicts what is wrapped inside. So give it due consideration and time before starting your essay.
  8. On rough pages, write an introduction for the essay. Articulate it with best words possible.
  9.  Now reconsider your outline and introduction and assess whether it fulfils the demands of the given essay. Only if you are satisfied with that rough draft proceed with the essay, otherwise reject it and attempt your second best essay on similar pattern. This is important because you would not get a second chance before one year if you fail in this paper.

This exercise would certainly take time but do not be panic even if it takes 40-45 minutes because you have done all the hard work. All you have to do is to write that outline and introduction neatly on your answer sheet and then proceed with the essay following the outline that you have already prepared.

English Precis and Composition

You may prepare for this paper in two parts:

Part ‘I: 65 marks   (Precis, comprehension, expansion)

Part ‘II: 35 marks (Change of narration, correction of sentences, idioms, pair of words, antonyms/synonyms)

(The examiner may, however, ask other segments like change of voice as well)

Part ‘II is mathematical as your correct answer would accrue full marks. Mostly, questions in this part are repeated which makes it easier to prepare. Here it becomes key to success if you manage to score 30 in this segment your chances of clearing this paper become high. For this purpose practise this segment from the past papers and please do not cram sentences written in common guide books available in market.

Part ‘It is significant as it’s a test of your command over language. You have to demonstrate your skills of comprehending a piece of writing and communicating in writing in a precise and effective manner. Practice is the key in this segment. Try to solve all 40 past papers questions of precis and comprehension passages. Time management is very important in this paper as the precis passage mostly consumes around one hour. Practice can help you save time in other parts.

General Science & Ability

General Science & Ability paper is a unique of all the papers in the sense that it awards marks to the candidates in a wide range of 5-95. You would find DMCs of allocated candidates who obtained 30-40 marks in this paper. An extra effort in this paper may prove a key factor in determining your final standing in merit list.
Attempting this paper is skill of which selection of questions is very important. In objective portion, there is no choice so you have to attempt all. From subjective portion, prefer those questions which carry one mark because chances of getting full 10 marks in that question are more. Similarly, second preference should be two marks questions and lengthy questions should be avoided.In science paper, diagrams carry nearly half marks of each question. So, practise drawing them as much as possible and try to draw neat diagrams with proper labelling in paper.
Another misconception about this paper is about attempting it in Urdu or English. This is no issue as the main purpose is checking your knowledge. English or Urdu does not carry any marks of their own, but your argumentation and presentation does.
Do consult past 10 years papers of EDS as the books on General Science & Ability for the CSS exams are too voluminous. One mark questions are usually of scientific units and abbreviations and reasoning. These questions are fairly simple and very often repeated. If you go through past papers, you will find many such examples.

Current Affairs

Scoring high marks in this paper demands that the candidate must be well prepared having up-to-date knowledge of all current topics. The candidates are judged on the basis of their level of understanding, depth of knowledge and analysis of issues.

To ensure better preparation, candidates may divide this paper into following segments:

  1. Foreign Policy: Foreign Policy and Pakistan’s relations with China, India, Iran, Afghanistan, US, Russia and Muslim countries.
  2. International organisations: UN, OIC, NAM, SAARC, ECO, SCO, EU, ASEAN, D-8, G-20, Commonwealth
  3. International issues (Climate Change, Global War on Terror, Syrian Crisis, Palestinian Crisis, Nuclear Proliferation, etc.)
  4. Important States of the World (US, China, Russia, UK, Japan, India, etc.) ‘their role and influence on the global level
  5. Domestic issues

In this paper, candidates should try to write to-the-point answers in a precise manner. Drawing a map is a required for most of the questions in this paper. Maps printed at the back of diaries can be used for practice.

Domestic issues important for CE-2013 include problems of Pakistan economy, foreign aid and debt.

Energy Crisis

Corruption & Bad governance
Problems and suggestions for industry,
agriculture, exports and tourism
Role of media, courts, and bureaucracy
Democracy in Pakistan
Natural and human resource potential of
Problems of education and health sector
Status and rights of women, children, and

Pakistan Affairs

This paper generally gives low marks but some candidates do score 65 plus marks every year. So it is a challenge for every candidate to score higher in this paper.

This paper demands a creative approach in every attempted question. Your scripts must contain critical and thought-provoking analysis of the issues asked. Moreover, suitable quotations from good sources may be given to support your argument. For this purpose, select two or three good books and read them thoroughly. The candidates may even pick analytical arguments from these books and use them in the paper.

This paper comprises two segments: pre-partition, and post-partition. A reason for low scores in this paper is the tendency of the candidates to prefer pre-partition questions for the obvious reason of availability of books and handy notes in market for these questions. They must understand that thousands of them rely on same material which is mostly outdated. The examiner expects creativity and originality from the candidates. A better strategy is to target questions related to current scenario and contemporary issues as there is a better margin to exhibit your analytical skills.


There are many false notions and myths about this paper that the candidates must give moderate views in paper, otherwise get ready to be failed. These notions are false and absurd. There is no room for confusion in Islam so give your clear cut view but do not forget to prove it with effective argumentation and examples. Moreover, try to understand contemporary problems from Islamic point of view.

Another misconception about this paper is about attempting it in Urdu or English. This is no issue as the main purpose is checking your knowledge. English or Urdu does not carry any marks of their own, but your argumentation and presentation does. So choose the language in which you can best attempt the paper.

Islamiyat paper may also be divided into segments:
Islamic concept and practices
Contemporary problems faced by Muslims

The candidates should focus on both segments. Some topics for guideline may be:
Islamic concept of Universe and Humanity
Problems of life and Islamic solution
Beliefs on Risalat and Akhirat ‘Blasphemy question
Social and moral codes in Islam vs Western Ethics
Islamic political system in comparison with modern democracy
Women rights in Islam and legislations against veil in the West
Political and economic instability in Muslim World
Sectarian violence and terrorism in Pakistan
Sources of Shariah; Ijtehad

In the end, I would like to remind the candidates that this is just an exam for a job. Success or failure in it would not mean an end of life. Just keep faith in your abilities and try to give it your best. May Allah bless you all.

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