“JWT magazine offers a holistic view on world affairs and I would recommend candidates to read this mag.”
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Qurat ul Ain Zafar (QZ): I did my O Level from Convent of Jesus and Mary (11A*s, 1A), A Level from Lahore Grammar School (6A’s) and graduated 3rd in my batch of Computer Engineering (2016) from University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore.
JWT: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career in childhood, so what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?
QZ: Yes, from very early on, members of my family who largely belong to government service were a source of inspiration for me and I was naturally drawn to the competitive examinations.
JWT: What feature of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) attracted you most?
QZ: PAS, for me, is a service that offers diversity and holds a promise of growth. It allows officers not only to effect change at a macro level and help people, but also to achieve self-actualization, both as individuals and as public servants.
JWT: How much helpful did you find Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) during your preparation?
QZ: JWT magazine offers a holistic view on world affairs and I would recommend that candidates read this mag, along with other monthly magazines such as Herald, to ensure that they stay updated on current affairs.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
QZ: A lot of practice and prudent time management.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
QZ: When I began my preparation, I focused primarily on compulsory subjects to ensure that I could prepare them to the best of my abilities.
JWT: What were the toughest and the easiest parts in the whole process of CSS exam?
QZ: The toughest part has to be balancing my studies for the competitive exam with my final-year engineering studies during the written exam. Similarly, I quit my job as a Software Engineer to prepare for the interview. The easiest part, however, is accepting felicitations on my achievement now and seeing the happiness on my parents’ faces these days.
JWT: Anything important about your CSS journey you want to share with the aspirants?
QZ: I would strongly urge the candidates to only pursue this journey if they are very sure and determined about it. It is not easy and it takes a lot of time, effort, patience and perseverance. If you are not fully determined when you start, your motivation will fizzle out quickly and you won’t be able to give your best.
JWT: How the answers should be written to get maximum marks?
QZ: The examiner wants the candidates to address maximum dimensions of the question asked; therefore, one should try to give cogent arguments, substantiate them with facts and figures, as well as with relevant quotations.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
QZ: Not word limit, more important is to know how much you can write in 25-30 minutes and then to ensure that you contain your answer in that space. Otherwise, you will run out of time and won’t be able to do justice to other questions.
JWT: How should one choose one’s optional subjects?
QZ: While selecting optional subjects, aspirants must take the following things into consideration:
– Consult scoring trends;
– Try to choose optional subjects that naturally complement each other;
– keep your educational background in mind; and, above all,
– Know your strengths and weaknesses.
My Interview Experience
I had a very pleasant interview experience, by the grace of Almighty Allah. Each panellist asked a variety of questions ranging from problems prevalent in Pakistan (public transport, population, energy crisis, etc.) to questions about International Relations. I answered the questions to the best of my abilities, and I think I did well.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
The FPSC syllabus is a guideline but candidates often ignore or undermine it. Prepare your materials and notes in the light of the syllabus and try to cover the maximum portion so that on the day of the exam, you can actually choose what to answer, instead of being limited to the portion of the syllabus you studied.