In Conversation with
Arsalan Tariq (PAS)
13th in Pakistan CSS 2020-21
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Arsalan Tariq (AT): I did my intermediate from Government College University, Lahore. Afterwards, I started my Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. I also spent a study semester abroad in University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, USA as an exchange student.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
AT: I opted for Pakistan Administrative Service because of the dynamic and ever-challenging nature of its assignments. Moreover, in PAS, you start your career by serving a sub-division and later, you get the chance to serve the country on the national level. Hence, the opportunity to serve at various administrative levels and the responsibility that comes with it were the features that attracted me the most.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
AT: I joined WTI Super Class in 2018. It proved to be very helpful for me as it filled certain lacunae in my preparation. Moreover, I joined the WTI again in 2020 for the preparation of Viva Voce; that gave me much-needed direction regarding the interview phase.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
AT: In my opinion, the quality of your content and the way you present that in a holistic yet to-the-point manner makes all the difference in the written part.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
AT: Instead of following a single source or ready-made material available in the market, I tried to gather up-to-date information from various reliable sources. I recommend reading the relevant research papers published by various institutions during the recent months for a sound preparation. Moreover, framing your answer in a concise way and the presentation of your paper do also matter.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
AT: It was possible due to the grace of Allah Almighty, support of my family and hard work of my teachers and mentors. In addition, my dedication, commitment and resilience also played a great role.
JWT: What should be an ideal time table for a new aspirant to make sound preparation for CSS exam?
AT: Every person has his/her own unique strengths and weaknesses; therefore, an ideal timetable looks different for everyone. However, in my opinion, 2000-2400 hours of preparation might suffice for a university graduate with no background.
JWT: What areas should the new aspirants focus while preparing for the CSS exam?
AT: Prepare the whole syllabus using quality materials, i.e. FPSC-recommended books, research papers and reliable online sources with up-to-date information. Always prepare for MCQs separately. Moreover, the importance of past papers can’t be denied.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
AT: Write your answers in a specific pattern – introduction, main body and conclusion/critical analysis. Try to give each answer equal time; avoid giving too much time to first question and, consequently, too little to the last one. Moreover, augment your answers with official facts and figures. Analyze different dimensions of the question without getting derailed from the main topic.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
AT: Anywhere between 5½ and 6½ sides is a good rule of thumb. However, you should focus more on time limit.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
AT: I wrote essay on “IMF bailouts: roads to stability or recipes for disaster.” After writing the outline and the introduction, I started my arguments on how IMF bailouts are recipes for disaster. Next, I explained some arguments that posit these bailouts as roads to stability and how these arguments don’t represent the whole picture. In the end, I wrote about the alternatives that can actually help the economy, and concluded the essay.
As far as Précis and Composition paper is concerned, I wrote as many précis as I could, and got them evaluated.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations and what areas should (s)he focus?
AT: In my opinion, one should start by getting the basics right. Reading daily newspapers, along with opinions and editorials, and creating a journal for vocabulary and relevant trivia can prove to be really helpful in the start of preparation. Moreover, one should start preparing compulsory/optional subjects side-by-side without wasting any time.
My Tips on
Selection of optional subjects
Selection of subjects should be done after thorough research. For this purpose, I recommend reading the syllabus and all the Examiner Reports available on the FPSC website. After perusing the syllabus, narrow it down to the subjects that you would like to opt for. Keep in mind your academic background, personal interest and length of syllabus. After selecting the optional subjects, one should not change the subjects except for some extraordinary reasons.
I made thorough and comprehensive notes. These notes were of much help during revisions.
I believe that 3-4 revisions of the syllabus are sufficient.