In Conversation with
Sidra Sattar 8th in Punjab
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Sidra Sattar (SS): Being a Lahorite, I did matriculation and Intermediate from a public school and college of my city. Then, I did BS (Hons.) in Applied Microbiology from the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore. At the University, I was pretty active in extracurricular activities like dramatics and sports.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) in your preparation for PMS exam?
SS: JWT helped a lot in my preparation for the competitive examination. I used to read the magazine for current affairs-related questions. JWT magazine helped me in preparation for Provincial Management Service as well as Assistant Director (Investigation) FIA examinations.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers of PMS exam, especially that of General Knowledge?
SS: Practice, practice and practice is the only key to passing Essay and English Composition papers. Besides, I used to read General Knowledge on a daily basis for one to two hours. This practice helped a lot in my final examination.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in the written part of PMS exam?
SS: To get excellent marks, one needs to craft one’s answer in such a manner that it addresses the question in the most direct and relevant way. In other words, you need to tell the examiner what (s)he asked, and not what you know. So, the answers must be specific and precise.
Moreover, most questions vary in their nature and so does the strategy to formulate the answer. Each answer has to be tailored according to the needs of the question. Lastly, adding flowcharts, facts and figures and graphical representations does create a huge difference.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
SS: My Essay was about the pandemic. I structured it on traditional pattern; starting with an outline and moving on to introduction wherein I tried to present the gist of the Essay. Given its descriptive nature, I dedicated one paragraph to each of the variables mentioned in the outline. Then, I added some suggestions and tried to conclude on a positive note.
JWT: Since you have scored excellent marks in Geography and Psychology, what was your strategy for these very papers?
SS: For both Geography and Psychology, I extracted relevant material from various textbooks and used online sources as well. I tried to acquaint myself with most parts of the syllabus instead of going for selective study. For Geography, I tried to make myself skilful in drawing maps and illustrations while attempting answers to the questions. Lastly, practicing to write answers in stipulated time was helpful in the examination.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
SS: I think it’s more about the time, and less about the words. First, attempting all questions in the given time is more important than writing too-long answers. Second, the answers should neither be too long nor too short. Third, dividing the time equally among all questions puts a sort of natural limit on the number of words. This sums up approach to this issue.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
SS: It depends upon the individual taking this decision. One should go for the language one is more proficient and resourceful in. However, given the fact that there is dearth of resources and textbooks in Urdu for most of the optional subjects, it would be a bit challenging to go this way
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
SS: Try to do some self-assessment in terms of your aptitude for, and proficiency in, certain subjects. Then, do seek advice on scoring trend in a particular subject. Unfortunately, your proficiency, at times, takes a backseat and trends make or break the game. Finally, it is important to read the course outlines and past papers.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
SS: My parents deserve the credit for my success. My mother has been an inspiration for me all through my life. It is from her that I learned to be patient, persistent and optimistic. Similarly, I would not have here without the love and dedicated support of my father. He is the person who waited outside many examination halls for me until I reached here.
JWT: As interviewers usually grill the interview candidates, how did you manage the situation?
SS: My approach towards interview was ‘expect the best, prepare for the worst’. I tried to keep my composure, despite dropping some questions.