In Conversation With Muhammad Abu Bakar (PAS) 28th in Pakistan,CSS 2018-19
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Muhammad Abu Bakar (MAB): Till BA, I got education from my native city, that is, Arifwala. After that, I did a diploma in English language from National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad. Later, I completed my master’s in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
MAB: PAS was my first preference because it offers you a plethora of opportunities to serve the masses at grassroots level. Moreover, there is horizontal and vertical mobility in PAS. Likewise, at the senior level, one can give one’s best input in making policies that do influence the lives of the general public for good.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
MAB: The written part is very important in the journey of CSS. One can get excellent marks in written by adopting the following strategies:
- Choose those subjects that you have already studied in your graduation studies, and they are scoring as well.
- Read relevant, credible and good material to write quality material in your papers.
- Consult 3 to 4 different books for a single subject. It gives you different perspectives on a single topic.
- Do not forget to include diagrams, maps, quotations and flow charts.
- 5. While preparing for the exam, give equal time to each subject.
- Read the question carefully and write to the point answer. It is also necessary to divides answer according to the different aspects asked in the question.
- Make notes of every subject and keep them updating regularly.
JWT:compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
MAB: My strategy in this regard was:
- Writing and practicing English Essays regularly.
- Practicing précis and comprehension from past papers.
- Getting my essays, précis and comprehensions evaluated from a good teacher.
- Focussing on mathematical portion of General Science and Ability because it increases the overall score in this subject.
- For Current Affairs and Pakistan Affairs, I consulted different sources including magazines and newspapers.
- Studying Islamiat from different, authentic sources.
MAB: Answers should be properly structured; with an introduction, body and conclusion. This structure should be followed in all subjects. Introduction should be catchy and it must attract the eye of the examiner; it should not give away the main arguments but rather only a hint of them. Headings must be included so as to facilitate the examiner. Arguments must be logical, relevant and coherent. They should also by strengthened by giving and nullifying their counter-arguments. Sound reasoning skills must be applied to the body so as to make the arguments stronger. Conclusion must be treated as conclusion, and not just as the summary of the answer you have written. The arguments must be effectively closed and concluded in the conclusion. It must not give the impression that something else could have been added.
As I entered the interview room, Mr Chairman welcomed me warmly which helped me in getting rid of my nervousness to an extent. Mr Chairman asked me questions about International Relations and there was a debate on democracy. Some questions were from my optional subjects. My 40 percent interview was based on the questions related to my Command Task. Other members asked me questions about my hometown, international organizations, world peace as well as questions related to current affairs. Honestly speaking, I could answer only 50 percent of my questions and 50 percent were dropped. However, I remained confident and did not try to conjecture. For questions I didn’t know the answers of, I simply said, “I don’t know the answer.” One highlight of my interview was when I was dropping questions again and again, the panel shifted towards token questions. This proved turning point for me. The panel asked 8 token questions and I answered all of them correctly by the grace of Allah Almighty. So, overall it was a very good experience.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
MAB: I wrote a rough outline before making it final. My outline was in headings. I wrote one paragraph for each heading. The introduction I gave was to the point and I made sure that introduction was related to the essay statement. Another point to be noted is that a paragraph also includes an introduction and conclusion. Language should be simple. Relevance to the topic is very necessary for a good Essay. Being free of grammatical mistakes makes your essay a perfect one.
Précis and Composition paper is also important because you can score 50-60 marks, if you prepare well for it. I divided this paper into two parts and prepared accordingly. The first part comprised précis, comprehension, Urdu to English translation, synonyms and antonyms. If you pay special attention to this part, you can easily pass this paper. The second part consists of correction, punctuation, pairs of words, idioms, analogies and prepositions, etc. Working on this part will fetch bonus marks for you.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations and what areas should (s)he focus?
MAB: I would give this piece of advice to them:
- 1. Choose your subjects wisely; taking into account both your aptitude and scoring trend.
- Identify your strongest and weakest subjects without any preparation.
- Prepare English Essay and English Comprehension on daily basis,
- 4. Make a separate notebook for each subject which should include data, maps and quotations related to the subject.
- 5. Make a habit of reading DAWN newspaper daily.
- Give equal time to each subject.
- Start making long and short notes from day one.
My tips on:
Selection of Optional Subjects
For selection of optional subjects, the following three things should be kept in mind:
- a) Your educational background;
- b) Scoring trend; and
- c) Your aptitude.
For notes-making, the following steps are important:
- a) If you have ample time, your notes should be both short and long. This approach will help you in exam days as well.
- b) Make a separate notebook for each subject which should include maps, quotations, data and other things.
- c) Use markers of different colours for important things. This will help you remember important points in exam days.
- d) Also write important references.
- e) Keep updating your notes.
Revision of your notes is necessary. The long and short notes should be revised at least once. If you manage to revise short notes in January, it will be very helpful in the long run.