In Conversation with
Muhammad Abid Sarwar
32nd in Punjab, PMS 2020-21
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Muhammad Abid Sarwar (MAS): I completed my BS Hons in English Literature and Political Science from Forman Christian College (A Chartered University). Apart from this, I did LLB from University of the Punjab. Later on, I pursued my career in private firms and started preparing for competitive exams.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
MAS: I used to read Jahangir’s World Times magazine regularly. Since the content and quality is part and parcel to prepare for any competitive exam, it is one of those magazines that serve this purpose during preparation. It is recommended that aspirants must read JWT magazine along with the Economist, Foreign Policy and Diplomat.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
MAS: To-the-point preparation is the key to sailing through this challenging journey. For the preparation of compulsory subjects, one must read quality content. Sources may vary from recommended books and magazines, to the Internet. Usage of quotes, facts & figures and authentic references does create a difference. I recommend notes-making for all subjects.
As for GK paper, which is one of the hardest nuts to crack, one must go through the past papers. Moreover, taking a session for GK from a seasoned mentor also increases prospects of securing good marks. It gives you a fair idea of the path to follow while preparing for the GK.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
MAS: First, I would say that writing practice is at the heart of preparation. It is the key with which you can open the avenues of success. The more you practice, the better your prospects of a high score. Since the dynamics of the PMS exam have taken a paradigm shift, an aspirant is required to come up with quality, quantity and creativity. It is creativity and quality that matter a lot. Art of being creative while attempting a paper makes your answer sheet conspicuous, leading to high score.
JWT: Your marks in Essay are outstanding, how did you structure that?
MAS: To me, English Essay is all about relevance, coherence, clarity of thoughts, and originality. The more you take care of these parameters, the more you are to be rewarded. Choosing a right topic is fundamentally important. Try to avoid any adventure. Do not go for a unique topic, if you don’t have crystal-clear understanding of that. There is no harm if you go with majority. I made a rough outline and refined it while focusing on the above-mentioned parameters. The simple formula for essay writing is write, write and write.
JWT: Since you have scored excellent marks in Political Science and Public Administration, what was your strategy for both these papers?
MAS: One must understand that good presentation of paper is very important. While attempting subjects such as Political Science, I profoundly focused on pictorial illustrations, i.e. shapes, tables, charts. Make it easy for the examiner while attempting paper.
For Public Administration, I focused on case studies and practical manifestations.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
MAS: Gone are the days when length of answers would take precedent in terms of score. Now, the dynamics of exam have changed. Quantity and quality equally matter. An aspirant is required to provide a blend of both. As far as pages are concerned, 6 to 9 pages would make a good answer.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
MAS: Language skills matter a lot. However, it is recommended that one should go for English. The very rationale behind it is that most of the content is available in English. The only exception lies with the paper of Islamic Studies, as it is easy to collect and memorize Quranic verses, Ahadith, sayings of Muslim Scholars in Urdu.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
MAS: First, educational background is important. If your background supplements some optional subjects, go for it. Otherwise, one may consider one’s own interest and scoring trend. Importantly, past papers of last five years must be consulted to have a fair idea of the syllabus, paper pattern and the depth of knowledge required to prepare for a certain subject.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
MAS: Well, most of the credit goes to my parents and siblings who kept me motivated throughout the journey. Prayers of your loved ones, including your friends, play an important role. Above all, Allah Almighty has been very kind.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
MAS: Interview is a very crucial part of PMS exam. During the interview, the panellists assess one’s personality in great depth. That is why the panel leaves no stone unturned to explore every possible aspect of one’s personality. Staying confident, composed and motivated is the key to getting through. If you don’t know the answer, there is no harm in saying sorry. Try to be honest in your answers. Don’t try to impress the panel unnecessarily. Be what you are!