In Conversation with
Dr Tamseel Abbas
45th in Punjab, PMS 2019-20
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Dr Tamseel Abbas (DTA): I did my matriculation and intermediate from Sheikh Zayed School & College, Rahim Yar Khan. Then, I did MBBS from Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur. I had been pursuing specialization in ophthalmology (the branch of medicine concerned with the eye and its diseases) before joining Civil Service.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
DTA: I have been a regular reader of JWT magazine throughout my preparation phase. The habit of writing crux of its articles helped me immensely in preparing for Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs and Essay. Similarly, I consulted JWT books for my optional subjects, i.e. Punjabi and Geography, and it saved my time and provided me with quality content.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
DTA: I would like to summarize it in three phrases: read extensively, extract a little and write as much as you can. The choice of quality sources for preparation cannot be overemphasized. Thus, reproducing the best out of all an aspirant has read is the key.
As for GK, it is a test of both methodology and memory. So, preparing for it by spreading it over all the preparatory phase, periodic revisions and understanding its constant (facts) and dynamic (current affairs) portions are some steps that can help in acing this paper.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
DTA: Well, the best answer is the one that replies to all the queries in the question. So, the first step is to understand the question in terms of its various components, followed by an answer that must be precise, relevant and backed by sound analysis and facts. The style of presentation matters a lot as most answers have the same arguments but presenting them effectively – through diagrams, flowcharts, maps, etc. – and analytically, makes all the difference. An answer with a good opening statement, self-explanatory headings and ending with critical analysis/suggestions is likely a scoring one. All these attributes can be developed by doing a lot of practice and taking mock exams.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
DTA: I believe that an outline decides the fate of your Essay. An outline that is capable of invoking the interest of the examiner by means of comparisons, open-ended questions, case studies and interesting scenarios, covering all dimensions of the topic, sets the pitch. The second, but equally important, aspect is simple and correct sentence structure. I attempted the topic “Globalization” and followed the above-mentioned strategy with short and beautiful sentences, avoiding verbosity and relying on argumentation, examples and comparisons.
JWT: What was your strategy for General Knowledge paper?
DTA: As I said earlier, I prepared for GK paper throughout rather than restricting it to the last few months; it provided me ample time to go through it more than once. Analysis of past papers is also important to find out one’s weakness related to various segments of GK syllabus – it was Information Technology (IT) in my case. Use of maps, developing mnemonics to memorize important information and a friendly quiz are some ways of making its preparation interesting. The last pages of JWT that provide date-wise national and international happenings are a valuable source for current affairs MCQs.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
DTA: Absolutely not! Focus should be on adequate response to all aspects of the question rather than the number of words or pages. Interestingly, a balanced answer never runs short of words. The art is to respond with multiple angles in decent length that should neither be too long nor too short. Bottom line is effective time management as writing speed varies from one individual to another. Long answers with repetition of ideas should be avoided.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
DTA: Honestly speaking, I cannot comment on it as I have not encountered anybody who attempted optional papers in Urdu. But, I believe, if one is well versed and confident to express one’s views in Urdu, one should opt for it as quality of an argument is independent of medium of expression.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
DTA: Interest in a particular subject, academic background of the candidate, comparative analysis of scoring trends over the last few years and complementary nature of certain subjects are the variables that come into play while choosing a particular subject. Despite these factors, hard work on any subject never goes unrewarded.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
DTA: I strongly believe that without the prayers of my mother and continuous support and motivation from my wife, it would not have been possible. I owe this success also to my teacher, Sir Shoaib Muneer (PMS) who supervised me throughout my journey. My fellows at BVH’s Eye Department never lost faith in me and supported me in every way. Sir Azhar Khan (PSP) remained my inspiration for Civil Service.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
DTA: Well, it was a good experience as I enjoyed opinion-based questions, especially my interaction with Nasir Durrani sahib (late). I dropped most of the fact-based questions that naturally built pressure but I kept my nerves and reminded myself that if I can’t sustain this pressure, how I would handle pressure situations in civil service. Now, I realize that interview is all about personality assessment rather than the test of knowledge. Smile and honest opinions do help.