In Conversation with
Haroon Sahu (PAS)
3rd in Pakistan, CSS 2021-22
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Haroon Sahu (HS): I did my O Levels and A Levels from Multan, and then went to LUMS for my bachelors in Economics and Mathematics.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
HS: PAS is the most impactful group and allows you to work in various capacities during your career. Career progression is great, and it provides you with the opportunity to formulate and implement necessary policies for the people of this country.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
HS: WTI has been of immense help during my CSS journey; both for the written exam and the interview. It enhanced my knowledge, boosted my exam performance capability and polished my skills to achieve success. Besides a great faculty, the WTI staff was incredibly helpful, and I always found my requirements and queries well catered for.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
HS: Attempting each paper in a way that makes your key arguments stand out, and using language, academic terms and illustrations specific to each respective subject!
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
HS: Providing answers that were holistic and tackling the question at hand with a wide perspective. Supplementing these with appropriate examples and statistics also works well.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
HS: Following a consistent routine with sufficient time for relaxation as well. Consulting multiple sources and focusing on the most relevant bits improved the quality of my answers. Combined with this were the relentless prayers of family and friends.
JWT: What should be an ideal time table for a new aspirant to make sound preparation for CSS exam?
HS: The time table should be objectives-based, rather than being time-based. Setting daily objectives and mini deadlines for course content to cover goes a long way in completing syllabi in time, while leaving time for revision and practice.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
HS: Using proper headings, sub-headings and paragraphs. With statistics and examples, it’s a good idea to highlight but not too excessively. All this makes an answer organized, coherent and more meaningful.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
HS: Word limit, or rather page length of your answers, differs based on writing speed and presentation. The key to a good overall answer is a consistent page length for every question with little variation, preferably of 5 pages for each one.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay, and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
HS: It was structured to define the topic first and then dissect it into social, political and economic dimensions, followed by analysing it from a Pakistan-specific lens. As for the précis, I broke it down into sections and summarized those, before joining them together again to form a coherent piece of writing.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations and what areas should (s)he focus?
HS: Focus on Current Affairs and develop a reading habit for articles related to global and local news. That develops focus, language skills and knowledge. Also do a lot of written practice to improve expression and ability to communicate ideas effectively.
My Tips on:
Selection of optional subjects
Focus on your strengths and interests first, and choose as many optional subjects as you can, using these two parameters. You’ll probably still be left with 1-2 more subjects to choose, so go for ones you can manage well with others given your preparation timeline and workload, and those which you believe you’ll be able to grasp well in lesser time
Focus on relevant materials and make short notes (bullet points), which can easily be gone over later on. One does not find the time to go over lengthy notes when the exams are near. Make notes on a notebook/computer, depending on what you’re more comfortable with, but using a notebook improves writing speed, if that is something you need to develop.
Revise your notes and, if you have study partner(s), engage in discussion with him/them. Revisit all bookmarked online sources to freshen up on key pointers/statistics/examples.