Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational back-ground?
Fahad Ijaz (FI): I graduated from University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, in 2010. Later, I earned master’s degrees in Political Science and Philosophy from the PU.
JWT: You have secured excellent marks in English Essay paper. How did you structure your essay?
FI: The essay I attempted was argumentative in nature. The structure for such type of essays is quite straightforward, and easy as well. After an attention-grabbing intro, I built a thesis statement and then presented my arguments in a logical and coherent style. After that, to substantiate my stance I quoted from history – ancient as well recent – events and personalities. In the end, I wrote a conclusion that dovetailed my arguments.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks in written part?
FI: While quality material and its relevancy is a sine qua non, good presentation does also cover some deficiencies. Answers must be written in properly-indented paragraphs. The use of labelled diagrams, graphs, pie-charts and sometimes maps makes the answer sheet aesthetically appealing and impressive.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
FI: I think one should bear in mind the time limit, instead. While attempting paper, most important and most relevant information must be given first and then one should gradually move toward the subsidiary information so that if the guillotine of time must fall, it falls not upon important information.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
FI: I joined the Interview Preparation Session at the WTI and found it very helpful, organized and up to the mark. The session gave me a kind of control to anticipate and drive my own interview with the help of certain techniques that anyone can master with practice. We practiced a lot in and out of academy hours, forming our own mock panels and acting as our own panellists as toughest as possible. Later, mock interviews with senior serving and retired bureaucrats helped identify our weak areas and work upon them.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to get through compulsory papers especially the one of General Knowledge?
FI: Frankly speaking, preparing for English papers – both Essay and Précis & Composition – requires a cumulative approach. So, for these papers, I would say: Read quality material, and read a lot! Good writing is impossible without good reading.
For GK paper, I think General Science & Ability by World Times Publications and the current affairs part in JWT magazine are more than enough.
I would like to add an important thing here. Unfortunately, most aspirants have become addicted to shortcuts and they remain in search of a magic wand that would vitiate the whole purpose of learning. Unless we change this transactional, ephemeral mode of preparation, passing any competitive exam would remain a daunting task.
JWT: What were the questions you found challenging during the interview?
FI: Mostly opinion-seeking questions relating to national security and geopolitics were the ones I particularly found challenging. Given my limited practical experience and the general lack of information on the real picture of international affairs, this kind of questions proved a quicksand for me, and I cut rather a sorry figure before the panel when I tried to walk the middle of the road on those questions.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
FI: First of all, my mother. She is very brave, hard-nosed and indefatigable lady. As my father works abroad, I and my siblings were raised effectively as single-parent children. In addition, it would be highly unjust if I do not mention my friends who supported me in all respects.
JWT: How did you prepare your notes?
FI: Right from the start, I kept a separate file for each subject. I gave first reading as quickly as possible to the books and the material I had chosen. I consulted past papers and got general idea about question pattern and then diligently curated topic-wise questions as if I was writing in the actual exam.
JWT: How one should choose Optional Subjects?
FI: It depends, among other things, on the time available for preparation. With ample time available, one can select a subject one has even a little acquaintance with. However there are certain subjects which, with the same effort, do yield more marks. They include Geography, Sociology and Punjabi. But, I think, it depends on background studies and degree subjects and above all, one’s own interest.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
FI: In whichever language one can express one’s views and ideas better and more skilfully, one must go for that language as medium. I, however, personally preferred English as a medium for a variety of reasons.
My Interview Experience
My overall experience and impression was good and satisfactory. I regretted afterwards some of the blunders I made but one thing, I think, salvaged the situation, and that is, I was very composed and smiling and seemed to be enjoying the encounter.
My Advice for Fresh Aspirants
Dream big and wild! There is no tax on imagination as of yet. Set your goals in life and then make calculations as to what price your dreams demand. Be ready to pay that price in various shapes. And your dreams will come true one day and come they surely will.