Sohaib Elahi (PAS)
20th in Pakistan CSS 2021-22
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Sohaib Elahi (SE): I have done Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
SE: PAS is the most dynamic service group of all. It provides opportunities for vertical and horizontal mobility; hence, the learning curve is always steep. Since I get wary of monotony, I felt that PAS is the most suitable service for me as I will keep facing new challenges every other day.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
SE: The mock interview I took at WTI was really instrumental in helping me identify areas I needed to work on. Overall, it was a good experience and I wish WTI good luck.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
SE: Be bold in your argumentation and give the information to the examiner in a crisp way. Try to analyze various aspects of a topic and share a perspective which may add to the examiner’s knowledge. Try to attempt the questions in a way that the examiner gets an impression that you are an expert on the subject matter. For that, you need to stay abreast of key recent developments in that subject and use subject-specific vernacular.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
SE: Compulsory subjects might be low-scoring but if you ace them, the skills they equip you with help you in your optional subjects. My strategy was to make connections among various subjects and try to use knowledge from one subject in another one while staying relevant.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
SE: Perseverance and faith.
JWT: How new aspirants should start their preparations for CSS exam?
SE: They should try to talk to senior CSPs and people who are providing CSS guidance since they know the pits and falls of the exam. Then, strategize accordingly.
JWT: What should be an ideal time table for a new aspirant to make sound preparation for CSS exam, and what areas should (s)he focus?
SE: I do not believe in an ideal time table since everyone comes from a different background and has different life situations. Just try to study at least 6 hours a day for 6 months. That should be enough.
As for the second part of the question, I keep telling aspirants and newbies who reach out to me to focus on English Essay first because it is the only subject majority flunks. Secondly, essay writing helps you in writing the answers for other subjects as well.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
SE: Try to be analytical and critical in your answers.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SE: No, try to identify what the examiner expects, and fulfil that requirement(s). I don’t subscribe to the idea of giving long answers just to fill pages with meaningless stuff.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
SE: I tried to be coherent, relevant and structured in Essay. It is easier said than done though. I had to practice a lot of essays to get there. For that, I reached out to my senior CSP friends and had my essays evaluated by people who had cleared CSS.
My Tips on
Selection of optional subjects
Four metrics: Analysis of past papers, availability of quality resources, personal interest and scoring trends.
Try to make notes the way you are comfortable. There is no right or wrong way to make notes. Notes are for yourself, so only you know what works for you. I used to make soft copy notes since they were easily accessible.
I would rather spend time in exploring new ideas and dimensions of a topic than spending time on same idea again and again. Just revise your notes close to exams.