In Conversation with
3rd in Punjab, PMS 2020-21
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Faisal Imran (FM): Since I hail from a village in District Okara, I got my education till matriculation from a local government school. Later on, I did FSc from Sahiwal. Subsequently, I managed to secure an admission to FC College, Lahore, from where I did BA (Hons.) in Political Science. Getting into FC College helped me develop a strong penchant for reading and concomitant co- and extracurricular activities. It was during my last year at University that I got attracted towards civil services and started preparing for the competitive exams.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
FM: There is no denying the fact that availability of right kind of reading material goes a long way in helping one do well in the competitive exams. I must confess that I have been a regular reader of JWT magazine, and it assisted me in my preparation in a number of ways; ranging from widening my knowledge base to improving my analytical skills.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
FM: Given my experience and long journey of competitive exams, I would say that one must pick around 20 most important questions/areas in a subject, and then prepare those thoroughly. One should also write answers to those questions within the time limit – in exam setting – and get them evaluated from a sincere mentor to figure out flaws and make requisite improvement.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
FM: Competitive exams are all about written. The examiner is going to assess a candidate based on what he/she has produced on the answer sheet. Therefore, the key to scoring well is having a good written expression; being relevant to the topic; giving self-explanatory headings and, most importantly, reflecting nuanced and incisive understanding of the issue under consideration.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
FM: I scored 55 in Essay paper in CSS-2016 and 66 in CSS-2018. My approach towards essay entails writing an outline in the form of self-explanatory sentences, avoiding ambiguity, vagueness and sweeping statements, while being very relevant and logical. Furthermore, writing a well-articulated and coherent introduction increases the prospects of an essay being awarded good marks.
JWT: Since you have scored excellent marks in optional subjects, what was your strategy for these papers?
FM: The reason I managed to score well in these papers is that I attempted questions from past papers of these subjects repeatedly. It gave me enough confidence, increased my writing speed, and helped in enriching my expression as well.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
FM: There are no hard and fast rules here. One must make sure that all the aspects of a question have been addressed satisfactorily. However, answers shouldn’t be prolonged unnecessarily as it often proves counterproductive. Adding extra sheets just for the sake of it is always inadvisable.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
FM: It is purely a personal choice. However, since competitive exams look for the level of proficiency in English, going with Urdu may not be a good idea.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
FM: Optional subjects should be chosen based on one’s interest, academic background and overlapping of content with other subjects. Rumours pertaining to scoring trend ought not to be taken at their face value.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
FM: Mr Abaid Shah, my friend-cum-brother and mentor, deserves all the credit for my success. He remained a source of consistent support and encouragement.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
FM: It goes without saying that performing well in interview is a big challenge. However, I practiced a lot prior to my interview in the form of mock interviews with my friends. That made me feel calm, poised and confident on the day of interview. I kept my cool, despite dropping a couple of questions. Being fluent in English and giving structured answers really helped me in scoring well in interview.