In Conversation with
GHAZANFAR PERDAKH (PAS)
10th in Pakistan – CSS 2021-22
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Ghazanfar Perdakh (GP): I completed my school and college education from Unique Public School and College, Chichawatni. After that, I did my bachelors in Computer Science from University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
GP: The multidimensional nature of PAS attracted me the most. Being a part of this service, you not only get the chance to serve the public directly at ground level but also the chances to make a broader societal impact through policymaking.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
GP: WTI helps you build a solid conceptual foundation which is crucial for your CSS preparation. Furthermore, the teachers at WTI are really helpful and they always encourage you to think critically.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
GP: The most important thing is practice. People often forget that this is a “written” exam. You may have read a lot of books, but if you do not translate your thoughts into words on paper in an organized manner within the allocated time, you cannot pass the written exam. Therefore, aspirants should focus on improving their writing skills and speed through practice. Just remember: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Furthermore, presentation of paper is also very important and it can turn an average score into a very good one, so aspirants should try to include maps, diagrams, flowcharts and tables to embellish their answers.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
GP: It consisted of:
1. Reading latest research papers and journals published by think tanks, like IPRI, ISSI and Congressional Research Service (CRS); rather than relying on outdated material of old books.
2. Staying relevant to the topic at hand and focusing on contemporary events.
3. Substantiating my opinions with authentic facts and figures
4. Presenting case studies to critically analyze an issue and providing viable solutions and remedies.
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?
GP: As the Greek maxim goes, “Know thyself;” aspirants should first do a careful introspection to determine their strengths and weaknesses and then make a timetable, accordingly, which suits them best.
Insofar as the second part of your question is concerned, I would advise new aspirants to build a solid knowledge base and develop a yearning for learning. Most aspirants face difficulty in developing the reading habit; this is because they are not interested in the subject matter and they often find it boring and tedious and thus end up cramming the subject without developing a conceptual clarity. That is why when they are asked to critically examine a situation/topic in exams, they fail to do so owing to their lack of deeper understanding of the topic. So, I would encourage new aspirants to read books, journals, watch political documentaries and infographic videos on YouTube to develop a solid knowledge base.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
GP: The most important thing is relevancy. If you try to fill the pages with irrelevant stuff, you’ll be penalized by the examiner. Be precise and relevant. Another important thing is to take headings and subheadings directly from the question. This technique will facilitate the examiner in assessing your paper and will give an impression that you fully understand the question along with its various aspects, and are addressing them all one by one in the answer. Make sure to use markers, margins, diagrams, maps and flowcharts to embellish your answers.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
GP: There is no word limit as such but a good answer should have a minimum of 6 pages and maximum of 10 pages.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
GP: For Essay:
Starting with an anecdote to attract the examiner’s interest and ending the paragraph with my thesis statement. Thesis statement should clearly express your stance on the topic and it should not be generic
2. Body Paragraphs
a. Definition/Explanation of topic (if required)
b. Presenting the opposing view to my stance in thesis statement
c. Arguments in favour of, and refuting the arguments presented in opposition to, my stance
3. Way forward /recommendations
For Précis and Composition, the key is to attempt the past papers and have your work assessed by subject experts.