The Art of Attempting Paper

Galloping in the wrong direction might not work but a leap into the right path will definitely benefit you a lot.

The written exam for CSS-2011 is drawing closer and the aspirants must be in a hurry to retain as much knowledge about different subjects as they can. This is precisely what I was indulging myself into while preparing for my written examination in 2009. So, I can really feel what the candidates must be going through these days.

But remember buddies, galloping in the wrong direction might not work but a leap into the right path will definitely benefit you a lot. To cut the long story short, I will relate to you the process of my preparation and what approach I adopted towards attempting the compulsory papers as it may prove beneficial for some of you.

It’s always better to do some written practice along with your reading process.

General Tips

First I will narrate you some of the general steps that I think are needed for better performance in the written portion of the CSS. Following are the steps:
‘It’s always better to do some written practice along with your reading process. See, it might happen with you during the paper that you feel yourself overstuffed with knowledge about a given question but struggle to find the right words to express them. Or it might happen that you are clueless about how to start your answer. All this is a result of no written practice and it may prove disastrous at the end. So, I will advise you all to make it a habit to write for at least 1 to 1.5 hours continuously daily for not less than 45 to 60 days before the start of papers as this will help you a lot.

The additional aspect of this written practice should be that in your initial days, you must write about something that you have prepared in the whole day. For example, if you have gone through 10 questions of Indo-Pak History today, ask your friend to randomly give you a topic and you start writing about it.

During the next phase, it should be so that if you have prepared 10 questions today, write in one hour a gist of all these events in a chronological order.

It is very significant that you are able to make connections between different events and draw allusions from different sources as they will add real spice to your answers. So while you are undergoing the written practice, try to inculcate this habit into your expression. Remember, your performance in a paper overwhelming relies on good expression; so the refiner you expression is the better chances you have to accrue maximum benefit from the examiner.

English Essay

For essay paper, everyone will tell you that try to attempt those ones which pertain to current affairs quite the same as I think. It is because it is always easier to understand what is required from you in topics on current affairs; plus, you are always more knowledgeable about these topics, besides in a better position to give variegated views about such current themes.

But do remember that essay is not just a paper, it’s a test. It is easy to attempt a paper but difficult to pass through a test. For succeeding in a test, you must bring an armoury which is quite different from others. So, here, ‘innovation is the soul of wit’ is precisely what the examiner perceives.

Admittedly, innovation does not mean that you have to put forth the most radical of ideas with having nothing to support such arguments. If you can just jot down plain and sensible ideas, but add spice to them by writing some quotes, verses and allusions, it would do the trick for you. For this, I would recommend you people to learn by heart at least five to eight quotes, allusions or verses which are relevant to some of those topics which you consider ‘hot’ for this year’s essay. I attempted essay on ‘Terrorism’, started it off with quoting W.B.Yeats’. ‘The second coming’ (4 initial verses), then in the middle quoted Dryden’s ‘Song on St. Cecil’s Day’ then a little latter in my essay wrote Pablo Neruda’s ‘When Bomb fell’ and ended with a related quote by Solzhenitsyn.

The result was getting a whopping score of 70 marks in it. So just surf the web and gulp down some quotes (literary ones always better than verbal sayings) on this year’s important topics (given below as per my understanding):-

Terrorism: [But it would not be a simple one now; it might be something like the changing dimensions of terrorism globally and in Pakistan, the sectarian ‘terrorist nexus in Pakistan etc.]

Need for a Better Disaster Management in Pakistan.

Economic imbroglio of Pakistan specifically with a focus on the aspect of enhancing revenue generation; also important effects of devastating floods on Pakistan’s economy].

Political instability in Pakistan.

Need for a better Water Management in the country.

Constitutional amendments Need of the hour?

I would not be enlisting here a plethora of topic in order to ensure that one of them is there in the paper rather these are the six topics I think are important. For rest, God knows better.

Current Affairs

For securing good marks in current affairs, I think that it is prime importance that you must be a regular and thorough reader of a daily newspaper like ‘Daily Dawn. Here somebody might pose the question why only ‘Dawn? Answer is rather simple. In addition to its unbiased approach towards issues of national and international importance (which is a rarity these days).

It is the newspaper which is read by professors and government officers the most. So, they not only like more the ideas as presented in the ‘Dawn’ but also, most of the times, current affairs papers contain questions which are patterned on the way a news is presented in it or an article is published in this paper.

So, this does not diminish the importance of some other newspapers like ‘The News’ yet I firmly believe that from interview as well as written portion perspective, ‘Dawn’ is better.

The other thing which must be remembered is the fact that merely presenting facts about an issue would not be enough to fetch you good marks rather you have to develop a kind of analytical and critical approach towards different events and happenings.

For instance, the issue of Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) has evoked a sharp reaction from different sections of society but I believe that it is a good tax as it will not only remove tax exemptions to major sectors of economy but will also auger well for the country’s revenue generation in the long run as a uniform tax regime would be put in place through this tax.

So you can always develop a kind of independent and analytical approach towards issues but that must be supported and proved through cogent reasons. I personally think that reading ‘Advanced Contemporary Affairs’ in addition to thorough study of ‘Daily Dawn’ is quite enough for current affairs paper.

Important Topics

  • The changing dimensions of power in the modern day world (Rise of New Power Centre in the world).
  • The impact of war on terror on Pak-US relations.
  • Pak-China relations as it stands today and how can they be improved in future.
  • China’s tilt towards India and its repercussions for Pakistan.
  • Need for a better accountability mechanism in the country.
  • Economic and social impacts of floods (Also include suggestions for better disaster management in the country).
  • The Balochistan imbroglio and suggestions for improvement.
  • Diplomatic and political impacts of Wikileaks on Pakistan.
  • Issue of RGST (How revenue generation can be improved?)
  • Likely operation in North Waziristan and its repercussions.
  • Impact of drone strikes on socio-political landscape of the country.
  • Kashmir issue is becoming dead day by day- what wrong policies of past contributed to it and give suggestions for its revival on international front.
Pakistan Affairs
I would say that this is one paper in which it is very difficult to make a good score. Reason being that over the years we people have adopted a traditional thinking about this paper which holds no water now. It must be borne in mind that almost all the candidates rely on the same variety of books for this paper and the examiner has to see thousands of papers producing similar ideas.

The net result is cutting a sorry figure when it comes to grabbing marks in the subject. I would suggest you that apart from having a thorough knowledge about the pre-partition part of the syllabus, develop an appetite for post-partition phase and specifically current scenario in the country as it is easier to score good marks in questions pertaining to current era or post-partition phase.

So if you have four questions from pre-partition phase in the paper and three from post-partition, try to attempt all three from the latter and only the remaining one from the former as there is a better margin of scoring in these topics.

I end here with a prayer that all of you successfully qualify this exam. Have faith in Almighty God and do remember that success only comes after pain.

let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate
Still achieving, still persuing
Learn to labour and to wait.

By: Muhammad Bin Ashraf (CSP)

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