CSS 2018 (Editorial December 2017)

CSS 2018 (Editorial December 2017)

Surah-20 Ta Ha/ Ayat 6: To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil.

“There is no secret to success; it is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failures.”

With these simple yet powerful words, Collin Powell, a former general in the US Army and the 65th United States Secretary of State, expounds on what it takes to achieve the coveted success in any field of life. These words hold true also for thousands of aspirants who are soon going to appear in an exam that opens on them the doors to an illustrious career and a dream future in the Civil Services of Pakistan. So, it is time to do smart things so as to reinforce what one has read and learned over the course of past many months.

CSS 2018 written examination is scheduled to start from February 15, 2018, and the aspirants must know that getting through it will not be an easy task as during the recent years, this exam has become a real hard nut to crack. A detailed analysis of results of the past few years suggests that one cannot pass the CSS exam with the stereotype knowledge and run-of-the-mill techniques. It is also not all about verbosity and ornate expression; it takes something more!

CSS exam is all about your knowledge and its effective presentation. Each answer you write must be a sublime manifestation of your sound, comprehensive knowledge and great analytical skills, as well as your ability to write correct English. Therefore, write only the pertinent material — in correct English. Never try to impress the examiner with your verbosity and pedantry. Be natural and keep things simple and do not write long, complicated and tangled sentences. Support your arguments with relevant facts and figures from authentic sources.

How would you do this? Let’s find the answer:

To start with, we take up English Essay paper; presumably the most difficult one to pass.

The principal reason of mass failures in English Essay paper is that most students lack conceptual clarity, they have shallow knowledge of subject, and their papers are replete with grammatical mistakes. This has been tersely stated in Examiners’ Reports for CSS 2016 as: “Ideas presented were random. The argument was without any logical reasoning or research-based facts. There was neither coherence nor creativity. The candidates were neither able to build an argument from multiple angles nor substantiated it with facts. The outline of Essay was not properly structured. In many answer scripts, aspects mentioned in the outline were not discussed in the Essay.”

Just keep in mind that English Essay paper is designed to evaluate your performance in terms of conceptual clarity, and linguistic and writing abilities. And, if your essay does not have these qualities, you will not be able to get through. Do give a properly-structured outline and discuss the topic from all possible angles. But never lose coherence!

Another common observation is that most candidates fail to use topic-related terminology, or more rightly the jargon, of the subject under discussion. For example, if you are writing an essay on a literary topic, you must use literary diction and terms.

Second most important paper is English Précis and Composition as in CSS 2016 almost ninety-five percent (95%) candidates failed this very paper.

Précis and Composition paper needs effective presentation of your thoughts with a clear, logical, coherent and impressive expression. But, most aspirants make précis and solve comprehension paragraphs that contain a lot of mistakes of technical nature. For instance, candidates fail to write précis in third person or do not use proper tense; they fail to write correct spellings and properly punctuate what they write. So, for obtaining excellent marks in Précis and Composition paper, you must enhance your proficiency in English language.

Similar is the case with other compulsory papers, i.e. General Science & Ability, Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs and Islamic Studies.

Here is an excerpt from Examiners’ Reports of previous years to further explain the point:

“The candidates had good knowledge of the current issues but the expression was poor. … The attitude was not serious and stereo-style writing persisted. Only a few candidates made constructive suggestions in the best interest of the country.” (Current Affairs)

“Ninety-five percent candidates performed as below as secondary school level and their answers did not meet the demand of the questions.” (Pakistan Affairs)

These observations sufficiently prove that you need to express your knowledge with good expression. Just remember stereo-styled writing won’t work.

In fine, before appearing in CSS 2018 exam, you need to work on augmenting your knowledge with relevant facts and figures but make sure you collect information from authentic sources only. Your knowledge, expression, concepts, sentence construction and grammar should be impressive. Moreover, you should hit the bull’s eye in your answers and must write according to the demand of the question(s). Gone are the days when guidebook-based information and crammed-up knowledge was helpful in getting through the CSS exam.

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