Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Nasir Shahzad (NS): Although my early schooling was in local schools of district Vehari, I did matriculation and FSc from Muzaffargarh. I wanted to be a doctor but fate has something different in store for me. After doing BS English from BZU Multan in 2012, I started preparing for the prestigious PMS exam.
JWT: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career right from childhood, so what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a PMS Officer?
NS: No, I actually wanted to become a doctor. My parents also desired the same but I failed to make my dream come true. So, I changed my intentions, and even the academic field. I had secured admission to D. Pharmacy in University of the Punjab; but I left it and decided to go for a degree in English literature. So, you can say that it was after FSc that I decided to become a civil servant.
JWT: What attracted you most toward PMS?
NS: I think without a purpose of accomplishing something really great, life is like a kite without string. To me PMS and CSS are not important, what actually matters is that you never sit idle. You keep setting higher targets and making endeavours to achieve them. This is, I believe, the real essence of human life.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation?
NS: I have been a regular reader of Jahangir’s World Times as it provides aspirants with updated data and critical analyses on various aspects of international and national issues. Another of its distinguishing features is its motivational factor; it works as an encouragement pill for the beginners. I don’t think there is any other forum where one can find comprehensive guidance on almost all aspects of CSS and PMS exams.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to getting through compulsory papers, especially the General Knowledge paper?
NS: I think compulsory subjects are as important as the optional ones. A large number of aspirants direct a major part of their attention to optional subjects but that happens at the cost of compulsory subjects. English Essay is a tricky paper as it needs consummate writing skills. English Subjective, on the other hand, is technical in nature and it can be handled well only with more and more practice. As far as General Knowledge paper is concerned, it’s always a mixture of MCQs on traditional topics and some on current international and national events. So, all areas of the syllabus must be covered from authentic sources. More than seventy percent of GK Paper 2016 consisted of science-based questions and I think it was a bit disturbing for those not having a background in science. For better preparation, I would advise that one must go through the latest contents of PMS syllabus for optional as well as compulsory subjects.
JWT: Who deserves the credit for your success?
NS: My parents, especially my father as being a professor himself at a government college, he took a great interest in my studies and even taught me English personally. My mother also was a great support as she stood by me through thick and thin. After them, I am highly indebted to my mentor Dr Akhter Abbas for his invaluable guidance that helped me achieve this success. Furthermore, my mates in the study group, we called the King Group, also deserve my special thanks. Discussions with my fellows helped me a lot in polishing my skills of making critical analysis of things.
JWT: How did you prepare your notes?
NS: Instead of making lengthy, voluminous notes, I preferred making the short ones. I am a smart worker and I believe that doing relevant things in two hours is better than studying irrelevant for 10-12 hours.
JWT: How one should chose Optional Subjects for PMS exam?
NS: in PMS exam, there are some subjects that are high-scoring. You may not agree with this view, but it is how things actually work. While choosing your optional subjects, though you should not ignore your personal interest, yet keeping in view the scoring trends is also inevitable.
JWT: How the answers should be written to get maximum marks?
NS: One should write an outline for each question, if possible. Use black ink to highlight important things. Provide maximum headings to facilitate the examiner as it always works. Avoid, as much as you can, re-writings and cuttings. One most important thing is that you should use specific terminology of the subject. Use of flowcharts, diagrams and graphs does also give you an added advantage.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
NS: Instead of word limit, one should focus on time management.
JWT: How one should structure one’s Essay in PMS exam?
NS: I think one should choose an essay that is unidirectional and less confusing. Start of the essay must be an eye-catcher. Don’t use too much quotations—I used none. Avoid flowery and difficult diction. Outline must not be too lengthy as one and a half or two pages are good enough. Length of paragraphs must keep changing to avoid monotony in writing. Introduction and conclusion must not be lengthy as it will irritate the examiner. Introduction must be the reflection of the whole essay and conclusion must second the point of view that you advocated in the essay.
JWT: Is it better to attempt optional papers in Urdu or one should go with English only?
NS: It depends; if an aspirant thinks that he is weak in English and his expression is not good, he may choose Urdu.
My Advice for Fresh Aspirants
Be a smart worker and adopt unique approaches to attempt papers. Time has changed and it is hard to impress the examiner by traditional notes and techniques
I think it was a wonderful experience. I was quite confident as I had scored 162/200 in my previous attempt (PMS 2014). Most of the questions during the interview were related to the prevailing law and order situation in the country and I was well prepared to answer those. I believe what matters most in PMS interview is the justification you provide for each answer. Your attitude does also matter a lot. One must neither be too dominating nor too submissive. Differ respectfully and completely comprehend the question before responding.