In Conversation with
Dr Noor ul Huda (PAS)
5th in Pakistan CSS 2021-22
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Dr Noor ul Huda (DNH): I did my matriculation from Presentation Convent High School, Sargodha. Then, I completed my intermediate education in premedical, topped the MCAT and got admitted to the prestigious Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore. In the meantime, I was also highly enthusiastic about reading and writing, and had the honour of being associated with LUMS Young Writers’ Workshop, and many renowned authors, including Usman Tanveer Malik, Fatima Bhutto and Musharraf Ali Farooqui. Freshly graduated in early 2020, I immediately started preparing for CSS.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
DNH: My dream job was the one where I could create the most impact in terms of innovation and diligence. Besides, I was always attracted to new challenges and a constantly dynamic work environment. PAS is all about it!
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute? And, how much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation?
DNH: WTI has not just been an institute; it has been my home throughout my written and interview preparation. Sir Adeel Niaz has been immensely kind in making sure that the best of the faculty is made available to us in the presence of the most amicable environment so that we would be completely focused upon our studies.
JWT magazine has played an instrumental role in providing crisp and syllabus-oriented knowledge which really helped me stay on top of all of my subjects.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in the written part of CSS exam?
DNH: Both quality and quantity matter; not one without the other. An immaculate presentation supplanted by some out-of-the-box ideas and analyses that truly speak out! Make books and Google your best friends, read as avidly as one would breathe air. The day when you’re satisfied that your paper has a distinct mark of yourself left on it, not copied or borrowed from anyone, is the day when you can say that you’ve made a difference!
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
DNH: In one word, evaluations! I believe that this tough feat can only be accomplished by rigorous writing practice. I cannot stress this enough! Personally, I did three months of constant written practice that sharpened my reflexes even for this lowest-scoring attempt of CSS. This, I believe, is the key.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
DNH: I believe that our generation needs to develop a love of books and let go of the ingrained fear associated with risks. I was a risk-taker; I had burnt all my boats pertaining to my medical and other career prospects. Big rewards require endlessly big sacrifices! Be fearless. You only think of a plan B when you know plan A is not working. Let go of all the stigmas and stand upright with your dream and your cause, and nothing would stop you from acing it even if it is your first attempt. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it!
JWT: What should be an ideal timetable for a new aspirant to make sound preparation for CSS exam?
DNH: It varies. In my case, I utilized my post-MBBS vacation just to sit down and delve deep into the world of books and papers that gave me a thorough grasp of history, global affairs and Pakistan Affairs. Once I knew that my basics were consolidated, I jumped right into the classroom with full force in May when my questions had considerable maturity and I knew that the teachers won’t have to spoon-feed me. By October, my notes were all done and onwards till February, all of my time was dedicated to revision with written evaluation every other day. Plan ahead! It’s a competition; you must always stay ahead of your contemporaries.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
DNH: Be as illustrative and creative as possible. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques of answering, you have nothing to lose but only experience to gain! However, your mentor is the compass needle here. Once you’ve done your part, respect your mentors and follow their advice on your crafts.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
DNH: There is no such generalization. However, do maintain a general discipline in the exam. If question number 1 happens to encompass 8 pages, make sure that the rest of the questions cover a similar number of pages.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
DNH: Essay should be kept simple, with a sprinkling of wit, sane judgement, and an element of validity with strong backing by opinion-makers and analysts.
As for the précis, please don’t cram any synonyms, word pairs or the likes. Make your general reading better and you’ve done half the job! Practice rigorously and you’ve definitely aced the whole game.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations and what areas should (s)he focus?
DNH: Start by general reading and gaining knowledge of the basics. Even if you can’t start from the dry books and boring journals, start reading any genre of your liking! Be it sci-fi, horror or rom-com, just make your habit of sitting with the books for 6-8 hours before anything else.
As for the second part, basics first! Please get your grammar and handwriting sorted before you take the leap towards gigantic arguments and analyses. Remember, we must take baby steps.
My Tips on
Selection of optional subjects
Ditch the myths of trending and non-trending. In the end, it is always the man behind the gun. Choose the subjects that attract you the most. After that, stick by them and do your best, there’s no going back.
Follow the past papers and the syllabus as you would follow a compass needle, stay within their ambit. Don’t be extraneous.
Start your revision and notes-making with your regular session of the classes, don’t wait till the end to begin your revision.