In Conversation with
Salman Yousaf (PAS)
7th in Pakistan CSS 2021-22
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background.
Salman Yousaf (SY): I did my matriculation from Divisional Public School, Lahore, and FSc (Pre-engineering) from the prestigious Government College University, Lahore. Afterwards, I pursued Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from NUST and graduated in the year 2020.
JWT: Since you have been allocated to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
SY: Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) is one of the most prestigious occupational groups which offers vast mobility to officers and provides them first-hand interaction with the people to address governance- and policy-related issues.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
SY: WTI has played a pivotal role in my interview preparation. I joined the interview session and learned a lot in the syndicate discussions. Moreover, mock interviews helped me identify the areas of improvement. In a nutshell, my experience at WTI was very enriching.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
SY: I believe in a three-pronged strategy to ace the written part of examination: knowledge, analysis and presentation. Candidates should read relevant books along with the editorials and analyses from the international newspapers. To substantiate arguments, one can add quotes and facts and figures in the answers. Lastly, good presentation of an answer can always improve marks.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
SY: Since majority of the candidates fail one of the compulsory subjects, my first goal was to prepare each one of them to such a level that I don’t fail at least. Secondly, I identified the subjects in which I could score really well. GSA resonated with my science and engineering background and similarly, I had a good knowledge of Pakistan history/affairs. So, I put in more efforts towards these two subjects. I would advise candidates to identify their strong and weak areas in the same manner.
JWT: What was the key to your phenomenal success?
SY: The key to my success was goal-oriented smart study.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his/her preparations?
SY: I would suggest aspirants to review subjects’ syllabi before choosing optional subjects and then start preparation from the one which seems most interesting. Set mini goals and study smartly to achieve them.
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?
SY: Every aspirant will have his/her own journey and his/her own timeline depending upon his/her educational background and any other professional engagements. But generally speaking, a candidate can prepare a 100-mark subject in 15-20 days on average by studying up to 8 hours a day.
As for the second part of your question, I would advise new aspirants to choose subjects wisely considering their educational profiles and any overlapping with other subjects. In addition to that, they should polish their writing and argumentation skills.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
SY: To get maximum marks, answers should meet the following criteria:
1. Structured and organized into various headings.
2. Definite and to the point.
3. Well-substantiated with facts and arguments.
4. Well-presented and written neatly.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SY: Word limit depends on the type of the question and the time available. However, since all questions carry equal marks, there should be a subtle balance between them.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition paper?
SY: I didn’t follow one specific structure for essay but amalgamated various techniques instead. I started my essay introduction with an anecdote, provided thesis statement at its end, wrote 14-15 paragraphs of 110-120 words each, provided two case studies separately for substantiating my point of view, and then concluded the essay with a quote at the end.
For Précis and Composition paper, I used to practice précis writing, comprehension task and translation exercises once a week. Therefore, during the exam, I was very comfortable at solving these questions. Moreover, I focused on vocabulary building from the start of my preparation journey, and it definitely helped me in final exam.
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