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In Conversation with Saba Asghar Ali CSS 3rd, 2011 (PAS)

I think every hopeful should first of all choose the optional subjects wisely, instead of just running after “scoring”subjects as the trend changes every year.

Jahangir’s World Times: Kindly tell us about your educational background and achievements in detail?

Saba Asghar Ali: I am an architect by profession. I graduated from U.E.T Lahore in 2008 and was the president of UET quiz society.

JWT: Is this your first attempt? If it’s not, will you please share the experience of previous attempts?

SAA: This is my first attempt.  When anybody asks me if I would give a second attempt in case the first one had failed, I always told that it is the first and last attempt because I did not have enough time to waste for a second attempt. In fact, different things work for different people I just knew I had to get it right in the first go since I would have chosen to do something else then.

JWT: What is so special in PAS and how it is better than other groups?

SAA: I do not think PAS is any better than any other group. It depends on what you want. I chose PAS because I wanted to be in close contact with the people and serve them so that I can understand and solve their problems. Another factor that influenced my choice is the fact that in PAS promotions are rapid and on merit.

JWT: Now being a 3rd position holder in CSS-exam 2011, what type of strategy did you devise for the preparation of exam? Please highlight some steps as key to success for the aspirants?

SAA: Work hard; because it does not mean taking more books beyond your capacity to read; it means selecting one or maximum two good books for each subject is enough. Go through and then revise them as well. I think every hopeful should first of all choose the optional subjects wisely, instead of just running after “scoring” subjects as the trend changes every year. In fact, they should opt subjects in which they have a genuine interest. I took psychology but then I took IR as well and neither of the choices was made because of scoring trends since everybody knows that IR is not scoring at all and I even did not know that psychology was a scoring subject then. Secondly please do go through from past papers since I found them the most useful guide in my preparation for the CSS.

JWT: Did you join any academy or prepared on your own?

SAA: No I didn’t. I studied on my own for the written exam and took notes only for English from Sir Bokhari. But for the interview preparation, I joined the Officers academy.

JWT: Discuss books and notes? What should be prepared and how?

SAA: I didn’t prepare notes even not in my whole academic life. I always read directly from books and write the important points at the empty side-space of book.

As far as JWT is concerned I found it quite useful during the preparation especially the combined edition of JWT i.e. All in One. I mostly consulted it for current affairs.
 Name: Saba Asghar Ali
Position: 3rd, CSS-2011
Group: PAS
Marks: Written -759        Viva Voce- 222
Essay-51            English Composition-62
General Knowledge- 175    Public Administration-72
Journalism-72            Psychology-155
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Favourite Personality: Dilma Rouseff and Zaha Hadid for different reasons.
Favourite Book: A history of God by Karen Armstrong
Favourite Quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

JWT: Majority of candidates cannot pass English Essay and English Composition paper. So, what precautions or steps would you suggest for these two crucial papers?

SAA: Read newspapers as much as you can, instead of using flowery language, make sure you use simple words but excellent sentence structures. Because using flowery language and poor sentence structures is probably the worst mistake especially in these two papers.

JWT: Seeking guidance prior to exam was an essential prerequisite of CSS so, what sort of guidance is required for the fresh CSS hopefuls and how do you rate Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) as far as guidance for CSS-exam is concerned?

SAA: I think hopefuls should take guidance as far as selection of appropriate books is concerned. I asked to Dr Ali Adnan Zaidi, a CSP for help regarding books.  As far as JWT is concerned I found it quite useful during the preparation especially the combined edition of JWT i.e. All in One. I mostly consulted it for current affairs.

JWT: You have earned a professional degree of Architecture then why did you opt for the Civil service?

SAA: Well, if had I been a doctor then probably I would have not joined civil service. As an architect, all I had to do was, sit behind a desk and work for those who are rich and powerful. So, as cliched as it may sound I wanted to do something for the common man, help him in ways that I could not do as an architect. I will not claim to be ultra patriotic but one thing that I am absolutely sure that is my desire and determination to help the miserable and and downtrodden see the light at the end of the tunnel so they can have faith again that ‘all is not lost!

Any Message
If you are determined enough, humble enough and have nothing but the best intentions at heart God rewards you in ways you never thought were possible in your wildest dreams. Have faith! If you fail in CSS; know that better things in life await you and if you pass, know that you have tougher exams ahead. In any case your failure or success make no difference, it is what you make of your failure or success that makes a difference!

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