“Well-researched articles as well as essays in World Times magazine, were a ready-made source of information on many topics”
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Abida Fareed (AF): I got my early education from Jampur, District Rajanpur. After FSc (premedical), I got admission to Nishtar Medical College, Multan. And before joining the Civil Services of Pakistan, I was doing my post-graduation FCPS community medicine from Institute of Public Health, Lahore.
JWT: Since everyone starts dreaming of a future career right from the childhood, what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?
AF: Actually, I wanted to be an astronaut or an air force officer during my school and college days. However, while I was in high school, I had opportunity to read Qudrat Ullah Shahab’s Shahab Nama. It was my first introduction to the Civil Services and I instantly decided to pursue a career in this sodality.
JWT: What feature of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) attracted you most?
AF: I think Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) allows vast opportunities for social interaction with all segments of society and to alleviate their problems firsthand. Plus, the job diversity attached to PAS was the most attractive feature for me.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation? And, how was your experience at the World Times Institute?
AF: Upon recommendation of a friend, I consulted JWT and it provided me with initial insight to the CSS world as I was entirely new to this. Well-researched articles as well as essays were a ready-made source of information on many topics.
Moreover, I joined World Times Institute for Test Series and I believe without the experience of tests and proper evaluation thereupon at WTI, it would have been very difficult for me to handle the stress of CSS exam. And, attending WTI’s Interview Preparation sessions proved highly beneficial as I did well in that too. So, for me, it was a highly productive and fruitful experience.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
AF: I believe key to getting through written part is to be specific, instead of general, in writing the answers. Whatever you write, you must provide a reference or evidence in form of specific data. Your answers should be embellished with research, diagrams and maps. Providing headings and quotes is also necessary.
AF: As I said earlier, I tried being specific and followed an effective strategy. For instance, for Islamiyat paper, I adorned my answers with Quranic verses and Ahadith, as well as incidences from the sacred life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the pious Companions (RA). In the end, I wrote my own analysis and concluded the answers on a positive note.
JWT: What were the toughest and the easiest parts in the whole process of CSS exam?
AF: Toughest part for me was time management, especially during written exam. While group activities – during psychological – were relatively easy.
JWT: What could be a viable strategy for a new aspirant who wants to take CSS exam?
AF: Don’t make it a matter of life and death. Enjoy your studies, choose the subjects which you like so that you may enjoy studying them. Then, augment your preparation by solving past papers or taking mock tests.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
AF: It’s all about time management. Take roughly 35 minutes for each answer and write as much as you can but, of course, only the relevant and to-the-point material.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
AF: After carefully choosing the topic I had enough data to write on, I spent 35-40 minutes on writing the outline and compiling the relevant main points. Then, I wrote my arguments in simple English, trying to avoid grammatical mistakes and keeping paragraph structure in mind.
JWT: Some tips on:
Selection of optional subjects
Select optional subjects on the basis of your own taste and the scoring trend. If you believe you can study a subject well and its scoring trend, too, is good, choose that one!
Jot down main points of the topics you study. Make an outline along with main arguments for that topic. They prove to be of real help in the end.
Revision is necessary, definitely. Refine your revision by taking a mock exam and by solving past papers.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
Give your maximum to whatever you are doing. Be honest to yourself and you will get the desired results, Insha Allah.
My Interview Experience
I was asked different questions; ranging from international economy, Pakistan’s foreign policy and History of USA to geography and public health services in Pakistan. Mostly, the response of the panellists was encouraging, though one or two of them tried to grill me. I think, one must to maintain one’s confidence and composure during the process and everything turns out to be fine.