In Conversation with Haroon Akhter
59th in Punjab, PMS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Haroon Akhter (HA): I belong to District Okara. I completed my education till middle from my hometown, and matriculation from MC High School, Okara — I stood first in the district. Then, I got admission to GC University Lahore. However, due to some unavoidable reasons, I had to migrate back to my hometown. Afterwards, I did intermediate from the local Government Boys College, and later earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Jhang.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
HA: I used to read JWT magazine since my university days. It is, indeed, a treasure trove of knowledge with diversity and multiplicity of ideas, concepts and write-ups. I maintained a backlog of all magazines and prepared topics of choice from that. It helped me in the critical appraisal of topics especially those related to Pakistan Affairs and Current Affairs.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
HA: Compulsory part of PMS exams is indubitably a bumpy ride for most aspirants. English, Urdu, General Knowledge and Pakistan Affairs are considered the biggest impediments to success. However, proper understanding of the technicalities involved in these subjects coupled with smart work and correct combination of reading material can help aspirants solve this Sphinx’s riddle.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
HA: Well, first of all, maintaining proper symmetry among all subjects is indispensable. I would like to advise aspirants to make each subject their strength by giving equal time and attention to all. Selection of question, presentation, citations (quotes, reports, indices, graphs, flowcharts, etc.) and time management must be done in a properly chiselled manner.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
HA: I attempted essay on “Socioeconomic Impacts of CPEC on Pakistan’s Development”. I organized it by first giving a brief introduction, followed by 3 transitory paragraphs, establishment of facts (socioeconomic impacts), some allegations on this project, practical recommendations and a decent conclusion. I adorned my essay with relevant terminologies, references and facts and figures.
JWT: What was your strategy for the General Knowledge paper?
HA: I categorized General Knowledge into relevant parts, e.g. Pakistan Affairs, Current Affairs, Islamiat, Geography and Biology, and consulted relevant books, internet and past papers to gain maximum knowledge. I have been good at general knowledge but this paper still gave me a tough time on the paper day. Owing to negative marking in this very paper, I would advise students to wisely do their maths while attempting it.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
HA: The quality over quantity mantra sounds good at face value but in this ‘cut-throat, fierce competition’, I think one must not be swayed by such sweeping statements. Quality and quantity should not be compromised at each other’s expense and both should be done full justice through consistent practice.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
HA: Keeping in view the fact that most aspirants prepare for both PMS and CSS exams simultaneously, English would justify the demands of smart study as both exams can be attempted in it. Moreover, quality books in Urdu are not available in the market or even in most libraries. So, proceed in a wise and prudent manner.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
HA: One should neither be obsessed with scoring trend nor should totally neglect it. Personal flair, aptitude for a certain subject and academic background should be factored into while mulling over choosing a perfect combination. Once carefully chosen, all optional subjects should be prepared in a seamless way by having an in-depth and analytical knowledge
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
HA: Prayers of my parents, support and encouragement of friends and the tutelage of my respected mentors helped me wade through the uncharted waters during this voyage.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
HA: My interview experience was not that good as I dropped many a question. I was grilled with wide-ranging, analytical and objective questions. I tried to explain all as per the best of my knowledge. One panellist tried to unnerve my at the start; however, I remained calm and poised. Managing confidence, expressions and stress is the mainstay of your success in the interview.