In Conversation with
SAJEEL AHMAD (FSP)
27th in Pakistan, CSS 2020-21
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Sajeel Ahmad (SA): I did O- and A-Levels from Bloomfield Hall School. I graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) by earning a BSc (Hons.) degree in Accounting & Finance. Later, I did ACCA.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
SA: The ability to network and groom myself were the features that attracted me most to Foreign Service.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation? And, how was your experience at the World Times Institute?
SA: JWT played a pivotal role in my success. Moreover, the guidance given for the interview at WTI proved to be the ultimate reason for my success.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
SA: In my opinion, written part of CSS exam is all about your analysis and how well you structure and present your arguments in the answers.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
SA: Practicing past papers and ensuring that I understood a topic from multiple angles.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
SA: Persistence and not giving up when I felt gloomy about my chances to crack CSS exam.
JWT: What should be an ideal time table for a new aspirant to make sound preparation for CSS exam?
SA: 6-8 months.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
SA: It should be done by carefully understanding what is asked by the examiner, and staying absolutely relevant. The answers should not be to too brief or too stretched out. Focus has to be on quality and presenting your own point of view from multiple dimensions.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SA: Quality over quantity anytime; however, the answers should not be too short. Five to six pages of the answer sheet would suffice normally.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
SA: For the Essay paper, I had practiced keeping in mind a particular structure, and I was able to emulate that well in the exam, apart from this adequate content on multiple topics and a grammar mistake-free writing was the focus.
For the précis exam, I practiced past papers extensively, which led to a very good score.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations and what areas should (s)he focus?
SA: I believe a new aspirant should start his/her preparations from Current Affairs, getting acquainted to what is happening around as it surely helps build an aspirant’s confidence and (s)he is able to project that confidence in other subjects too. For that to happen, gathering information from YouTube can be a good starting point.
Insofar as the second part is concerned, the aspirants must gather and read quality material with an aim to develop their analytical abilities.
My Tips on
Selection of optional subjects
A careful analysis of the syllabus and of past papers of various optional subjects and aligning them with your educational background should be the strategy to select optional subjects.
Notes making has a pivotal role to play. I believe detailed notes should be made initially to comprehend a topic in its entirety; however, these notes should be converted into brief ones or one-pagers close to the exam in order to increase efficiency and make revision easier.
Mock tests have an extremely important part to play; they give you an idea as to where you stand with regard to time management, what are your weaknesses in certain areas. Therefore, revision through mock tests is the best way to go about it.