In Conversation with
Daniya Rana (PSP)
55th in Pakistan; 2nd in Sindh Urban, CSS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Daniya Rana (DR): My schooling was from The Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary School. I had distinction in matriculation exam. I graduated from Karachi University in Economics and Finance, and recently completed my MS in Economics from IBA, Karachi. I also have 3.5 years of work experience; I served as YPA in Sindh Assembly, as a Senior Executive in Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Senior Auditor in AG Sindh. Of late, I was serving as an Assistant Director in Bureau of Supply and Prices.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
DR: The nature of job as an ASP is thrilling. I feel that there is no bigger authority than the power to protect the lives, property and dignity of people. Moreover, few girls are in this service, and I believe that if more women join government service as a judge or as police cop, it will end gender violence and disparity. In future, I want to be the voice of marginalized women because they experience additional barriers in their ability to access justice mechanism.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation? ‘
DR: JWT was very helpful particularly in preparing MCQs. Moreover, I would read the interviews of selected candidates from JWT and it motivated me a lot while I was preparing for CSS exam.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
DR: In my opinion, it is:
- Your uniqueness; critically analyze the topic and give your own opinion.
- Try to give examples to explain your point of view based on solid research.
- Learn jargon and vocabulary related to the subject and use it; for example, in economics words like stagflation, utility, ceteris paribus, and others.
- Presentation matters a lot; use pointers and markers, make pictorials, and draw tables to explain things. If your handwriting is bad, try to improve it.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
DR: As I prepared for CSS in 3 months with job and my MS studies, it was really tough. So the trick that worked for me was:
- Selective study, of only the important topics.
- Quoting statistics, authentic sources and giving my own arguments in Current Affairs and Pakistan Affairs papers.
- For Islamiat, I learned Quranic verses and quoted them in Arabic. I was able to get 60 marks in Islamiat, although I could only get 10 of the MCQs correct. I think, it was because of quoting verses from Quran and ahadith rather than giving general explanations.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
DR: It was:
- Belief in myself
- Being realistic
- Trust in Allah Almighty
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
DR: I would suggest the following strategy:
- Clarity of ideas and critically analyzing things shall make your paper unique.
- Each answer should be well structured and to the point, avoid redundancy.
- Go through Examiners’ Reports available on FPSC website
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
DR: Yes, your answer should ideally span 4 to 6 pages. Don’t exceed, otherwise you won’t be able to complete your paper in time.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
DR: There must be an outline in the essay. The introductory paragraph should be catchy. Start with catchy statements, a maxim, a metaphor or a quote. There should be thesis statement in your introductory paragraph. Quote as many examples from your personal experiences too in essay paper but only those which make sense so that the examiner enjoys reading it.
For précis, practice writing and do self-assessment.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations for CSS exam?
DR: Never flaunt in front of your relatives or friends that you are preparing for CSS! Just keep it to yourself because the more you show-off the more the expectations, and that will increase your stress. Frank Ocean says, “Work hard in silence; let your success be your noise.”
- Start your preparation with compulsory subjects, especially English as 90 percent fail English only. Practice essay, précis and comprehension daily. Half the time should be given to English if your skills in it are of average level.
- Make a register where you collect data from research on each topic. Select 30 important topics from a subject and do research on, and critical analysis of, each of those.
- Lastly, choose optional and prepare them well. Don’t take any optional subject lightly as aspirants usually do with subjects such as Gender Studies and Sociology.
JWT: What areas should new aspirants focus while preparing for the CSS exam?
DR: Essay should be the focus of all aspirants. Practice as much as you can. Practice does not necessarily mean writing full essays; even simply making outlines also helps. You can also simply discuss essay topics and ways to dissect and interpret them; such an exercise will sharpen your analytical skills that can help you on the day of the exam.
Selection of optional subjects
Consider these three things while making a decision:
- Academic background
- Your passion or liking for a subject
- Scoring trend
Do choose languages if you have good knowledge in that. Language papers are easy to handle and scoring as well.
Make short notes for each topic and long ones only for 2-3 topics which are really important.
Make one-liner, one-page notes for final-day revision.
Make a separate register just for flowcharts, diagrams and pictorial data
One-page notes for revision. Long notes should not exceed 3 pages so that revision is easy.
Fresh aspirants should:
- First focus on English writing; practice English, attempt essays and make outlines.
- Take each optional subject seriously as I have seen many an aspirant taking optional subjects like International Law, Gender Studies and languages not too seriously.
- Take care of your health. Do yoga and exercise on daily basis. This shall improve your productivity. Also give time to your family and friends.
My Interview Experience
My interview experience was good, but interview score was quite surprising. The majority of questions the panellists asked were from history (my weakest area). But I was quite calm and confident while giving interview. There was no question related to my degree, optional subjects and my job experience. There were few token questions which I luckily got correct. I believe that luck really matters in the interview phase. Moreover, my interviews had landed me to some really good organizations where I have served, but in CSS interview I believe that knowledge is the key.