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The CSS Exam Requires Endurance, Perseverance and a Strong Desire to do Well

Mir Reza Ozgen 2nd Position, in CSS-2011.

Freedom of Expression Fueling the Fire
Monday, October 01, 2012


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

 Ans: With my goal of a multifaceted education in mind, I chose business administration and did my Masters degree from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi. This programme has a constantly evolving degree with the purpose of giving students exposure to a multitude of disciplines. Through the course of my education I studied a wide variety of subjects including Management, Economics, Psychology, Finance, Organizational Behaviour, Accounting and Marketing.

During my time in PAF College Sargodha I was the Captain of the junior college basketball team and college table tennis team. I later became the Vice-Captain of the senior college basketball team, captain of the house cross-country team and was also awarded “Best Sportsman of the House”. As the House Prefect I led my house in the physical training competition and the drill competition, coming first in both. My contributions as an appointment holder and a sportsman ultimately helped us bag the most coveted trophy, The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, after seventeen long years.

JWT: Is this your first attempt? If is it so then how did you secure this prestigious position or you can share the experience of previous attempts?
 Ans: Yes, this was the first time I gave the CSS exam. I am very fortunate to have achieved this prestigious position in a single attempt. Without the unrelenting support of my uncle and aunt: Mr & Mrs. Hassan Ahmed Ozgen and my mother’s prayers this would not have been possible.

As far as my efforts are concerned, a good grasp on my subjects was my main focus in addition to getting the best possible guidance. The CSS exam requires endurance, perseverance and a strong desire to do well. I have found that during the preparation candidates question their decision to give the exam or keep it as their second option. I feel this philosophy is what distinguished me from the rest, as this was not just one of many options for me but rather the only option. It was something that I truly wanted and for which I went against the odds.

If you want something really bad you have to put in a good fight. If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. It’s a test of your endurance, of how much you really want it. You’ll face all sorts of problems but you have to give it your everything no matter what the odds.

JWT: What is so special in DMG and how it is better than other groups?
Ans: My goal has always been of building a career in the area of development, I decided to give the examination of the Civil Superior Services (CSS) for the same purpose as I feel I can make the greatest impact through this. My decision to join the District Management Group was made for the same reason. DMG is known for its broad scope and richness of experience and the right kind of exposure.  Here work is done at the grass root level, which is where I believe it is essential to focus our efforts. It eventually takes you to the policy making level and by that time you have enough experience to know what the underlying problems are and hence you are best equipped to address them.

JWT: Now being a 2nd position holder in CSS-exam 2011, what type of strategy did you follow for the preparation of exam? Please highlight some steps as key to success for the aspirants?
Ans: I have always believed that discipline, both personal and professional, combined with hard work is the key to success. During my preparation I would follow a very demanding schedule starting early morning. I used to study three to four subjects everyday keeping the most difficult ones for the morning since one is fresh at that time. My schedule was very detailed, divided into days, weeks and months. It took a lot of determination to ensure that I didn’t derail from my study plan.
 If you want something really bad you have to put in a good fight. If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. It's a test of your endurance, of how much you really want it.
 JWT: Discuss books and notes? What should be prepared and how?
Ans: It is crucial that books are selected very carefully. In my opinion, it is preferable to stick to one book. At most one can choose a second but candidates shouldn’t exceed two. Always read the book thoroughly and make your own notes.

JWT: What strategy one should adopt to create difference from others?
Ans: Generally, candidates should practice as much as they can and be well read. Since writing expression matters it would be beneficial for the candidates to work on that.

Looking broadly at the CSS exam, over time, it has evolved and candidates should too. It is no longer an exam of how good you are at rote learning; instead, it is an exam of your personality and nerves. Those who have given the exam recently can vouch for that. So most importantly, in order to be differentiated, candidates should work towards being informed, critical, and opinionated.

JWT: Majority of candidates fall down in English Essay or English Composition paper. So, what precautions or steps would you suggest for these two crucial papers?
Ans: It is widely accepted that doing well in the papers of English Essay, and Précis and Composition is the most formidable task to accomplish. My suggestion is that the candidates should practice writing frequently which should be checked by some competent teacher. Techniques of solving précis and composition should be given serious attention.

JWT: What are the ways to get higher marks in written as well as in interview and also tell us about your written and interview score in detail?  
Ans: I scored 775 in my written and topped the interview with 232 marks. Like I mentioned earlier one should have good writing expression and a good grip on their subjects. I find that the habit of reading, both fiction and non-fiction, is extremely essential. Of course we know reading is enlightening, helps to develop key language skills but in addition it also enriches thoughts. All of these come in handy especially for the written.
As far as the interview is concerned candidates should be calm, composed and confident. What they are looking for are individuals who can handle the pressure. They want to see if candidates have strong personalities and clarity in thought.

JWT: You have earned a professional degree of MBA from the most prestigious institution of business administration i.e. IBA then why you came towards the Civil service?
Ans: This is something I’ve been asked quite frequently and I think it boils down to your life philosophy and how you see yourself in the long run. I come from a business family and it was natural for me to pursue my studies in the same field. After a couple of years I realized that I wanted something very different, something that gave me more hands on exposure and experience. I have been discouraged by many who say that those who want to do any good get frustrated soon and do not excel. But this is only hearsay and I feel it is important to be a positive agent of change no matter in what capacity or on what scale.

JWT: You got very good marks in Business Administration and Psychology please share with us how did you make it possible?
Ans: My Masters degree from IBA helped me not only in the Business Administration subject but in the overall exam as well since I have gained a lot from my experience there. As far as psychology is concerned I had a particular interest in it. Psychology has always stirred my curiosity and fascinated me and so I worked extra hard on this particular subject.

Any Message
Those candidates who have a strong desire to be in the Civil Services and are willing to give it their everything will find themselves successful. Further I would emphasize the power of prayers; they can change your destiny, like they did for me. So play hard and pray hard!
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