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.
Pak-China relationship New Horizons
Saturday, January 01, 2011

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

but add spice to them by writing some quotes. verses and allusions.Yeats‟. Current Affairs .B. besides in a better position to give variegated views about such current themes. • • • Political instability in Pakistan. The result was getting a whopping score of 70 marks in it. also important effects of devastating floods on Pakistan‟s economy]. Cecil‟s Day”. the sectarian – terrorist nexus in Pakistan etc. „innovation is the soul of wit‟.] • Need for a Better Disaster Management in Pakistan. 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. 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. then a little latter in my essay wrote Pablo Neruda‟s “When Bomb fell” and ended with a related quote by Solzhenitsyn. I would recommend you people to learn by heart at least five to eight quotes. plus. started it off with quoting W. • Economic imbroglio of Pakistan specifically with a focus on the aspect of enhancing revenue generation. then in the middle quoted Dryden‟s “Song on St. innovation does not mean that you have to put forth the most radical of ideas with having nothing to support such arguments. you must bring an armoury which is quite different from others. is precisely what the examiner perceives. you are always more knowledgeable about these topics. For this. English Essay For essay paper. it would do the trick for you. everyone will tell you that try to attempt those ones which pertain to current affairs quite the same as I think. If you can just jot down plain and sensible ideas. “The second coming” (4 initial verses). Need for a better Water Management in the country. so the refiner you expression is the better chances you have to accrue maximum benefit from the examiner. It is easy to attempt a paper but difficult to pass through a test. 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‟. Admittedly.performance in a paper overwhelming relies on good expression. But do remember that essay is not just a paper. here. For succeeding in a test. It is because it is always easier to understand what is required from you in topics on current affairs. it‟s a test. it might be something like the changing dimensions of terrorism globally and in Pakistan. So. For rest. God knows better.

is quite enough for current affairs paper. • China‟s tilt towards India and its repercussions for Pakistan. 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. • Issue of RGST (How revenue generation can be improved?) • Likely operation in North Waziristan and its repercussions. So. It is the newspaper which is read by professors and government officers the most.For securing good marks in current affairs. I personally think that reading „Advanced Contemporary Affairs‟. they not only like more the ideas as presented in the “Dawn”. Important Topics • The changing dimensions of power in the modern day world (Rise of New Power Centre in the world). So you can always develop a kind of independent and analytical approach towards issues but that must be supported and proved through cogent reasons.” Here somebody might pose the question why only “Dawn”? Answer is rather simple. most of the times. For instance. • Need for a better accountability mechanism in the country. 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. • Economic and social impacts of floods (Also include suggestions for better disaster management in the country). yet I firmly believe that from interview as well as written portion perspective. • The impact of war on terror on Pak-US relations. but also. 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. this does not diminish the importance of some other newspapers like “The News”. • Pak-China relations as it stands today and how can they be improved in future. • Kashmir issue is becoming dead day by day. So. Pakistan Affairs . “Dawn” is better. In addition to its unbiased approach towards issues of national and international importance (which is a rarity these days).what wrong policies of past contributed to it and give suggestions for its revival on international front. I think that it is prime importance that you must be a regular and thorough reader of a daily newspaper like “Daily Dawn. • The Balochistan imbroglio and suggestions for improvement. • Impact of drone strikes on socio-political landscape of the country. in addition to thorough study of “Daily Dawn”. • Diplomatic and political impacts of Wikileaks on Pakistan.

I end here with a prayer that all of you successfully qualify this exam. The net result is cutting a sorry figure when it comes to grabbing marks in the subject. “let us then be up and doing With a heart for any fate Still achieving. Muhammad Bin Ashraf (CSP) How to Crack Compulsory Papers The candidates must keep this fact in mind that success in the CSS demands a good individual effort.I would say that this is one paper in which it is very difficult to make a good score. 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. 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. Have faith in Almighty God and do remember that success only comes after pain. I would suggest you that apart from having a thorough knowledge about the pre-partition part of the syllabus. Pak-China relationship New Horizons Saturday. 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. still persuing Learn to labour and to wait”. January 01. So if you have four questions from pre-partition phase in the paper and three from post-partition. Reason being that over the years we people have adopted a traditional thinking about this paper which holds no water now. 2011 .

It is believed that this very first paper . But their effort must be honest and well-directed. My own score in optional subjects was very low as compared to my fellow candidates of higher rankings but a higher score in compulsory papers brought me in top 10 candidates. This not only causes waste of money and time of the candidates joining these academies. So.CSS is generally considered the toughest examination in the country and plainly it is. Most of the people – the aspirants of CSS–2011 – that I have been asked to address through this writing must have been preparing for this exam for at least past few months. with an effective approach. English Essay Essay paper is considered as the toughest nut to crack. In this piece of writing. the candidates must keep this fact in mind that success in the CSS demands a good individual effort. but also creates confusion in the minds of many talented candidates. However. a candidate can get reasonably high marks in these papers. Also very often some brilliant candidates miss out in one compulsory paper despite getting very high score in all other papers. It has been observed that most people get less marks in compulsory papers. Their purpose behind creating such false notions is to confuse the aspirants in order to ensure that the candidates join their academy. In order to be successful in a competitive exam. However. I shall also be specifically focusing on the myths and false notions that have been created in the minds of the CSS aspirants by the mushrooming industry of the CSS preparation academies. So the compulsory subjects carry key significance in the CSS. a candidate has to put some extra effort to make his/her paper better than others. I shall try to discuss some tips to attempt the compulsory papers. studying good books enables a candidate to be better prepared and giving the answers with an excellent presentation is equally important for scoring higher marks. who cannot afford their skyrocketing fee structure. I shall discuss these papers one by one.

If the candidate does not make a distinction between the issue and the specific aspect(s) of that issue being asked in the paper. • Impacts on National Psyche Demoralisation and pessimism Depression and freight reactions Desensitisation and disinhibition . Let us have a look at the last two years‟ papers: 2009 – Pakistan‟s war on Terror and its impacts on our national psyche and politico socioeconomic fronts. 2010 – Dialogue is the best course to combat terrorism.analysis of this statement reveals that the examiner has asked us to write on these issues: 1. A glance at past papers of English essay would reveal that the essay topics on which a candidate is asked to write are generally only one aspect of the issues that the candidate may have prepared. This was the reason why most people attempted these essays and failed. then. Here it proves my point when I criticise the commercial aspects of so-called „precious notes‟ and essay as the candidates cram these answers and write them as such in the paper. one very hot issue of the past three-four years is „War on Terror or Terrorism‟. 4. 2. What. For instance. The very outline of these essays would be enough to depict whether a candidate has attempted it in a correct way. would be the proper outline for essay? Let us try and solve the 2009 essay. accrue any merit. 3. therefore. Introduction • Pakistan’s War on Terror A brief overview of this war. Pakistan‟s War on Terror (The word „Pakistan‟s is key here) Its impacts on national psyche Impacts on political front Impacts on social front Impacts on economic front Now make an outline. • Pakistan‟s War on Terror and its impacts on our national psyche and politico-socio-economic fronts .decides one is going to pass the exam or not. only one aspect of the issue is asked and any generalised answer would not. Is this really Pakistan‟s war? Are we friends or foes of our allies? „Drones‟ and „Do more‟. Most of the candidates failed in this paper. he is likely to annoy the examiner. In both these papers. 5.

he is likely to annoy the examiner. Thoroughly explore your mind and bring out all relevant points of that issue on paper. 2.• Impacts on Political Front Division of politicians over the ownership of war A halt to political activities in the country Militarisation of radical groups Alienation of nationalist leadership Leadership cut away from people • Impact on Social Front Widening gulf between radicals and liberals Society is least integrated Social sector development being ignored Public life-style is threatened • Impacts on Economic Front Shattering blow to the booming economy Dried up foreign direct investment Soaring security expenditures Halt to industrial progress and unemployment • Suggestions War on military front – improving defence capabilities War on social front – a more vibrant civil society War on psychological front – demands a concerted response War on economic front – a challenge for the government War on political front – demands political maturity War on international front – improving our tarnished national image and protecting our sovereignty If the candidate does not make a distinction between the issue and the specific aspect(s) of that issue being asked in the paper. Now select that essay which you can best attempt considering thoughtfully the aspect which is asked. My essay contained around 1700 words and with this quantity and the above mentioned fairly simple outline. Now pick those points which are most suitable for your outline. 5. 4. So surely the length of essay does not matter much. But it would not bother him much if you put up a good effort which falls short of the words limit. Make a logical outline depending solely upon the statement or topic of essay set by the . Examiner usually sets a limit of 2500-3500 words limit to trap the candidates. 25 – the last page – and start doing your rough work on that page. Carefully read all essay tips and select those issues which you have prepared the best. 6. I got 72 in essay. Now turn your sheet and cross the page No. In my view it is quality and not the quantity that matters. Tips for Essay 1. Conclusion Another important aspect is the length of essay. 3.

ask other segments like change of voice as well) . 3. 7. All you have to do is to write that outline and introduction neatly on your answer sheet and then proceed with the essay following the outline that you have already prepared. As far as important topics for essay for this year are concerned. 5. outline is like a cover of your essay which clearly depicts what is wrapped inside. So give it due consideration and time before starting your essay. however. 6. This exercise would certainly take time but do not be panic even if it takes 40-45 minutes because you have done all the hard work. I can mention a few topics but please do not limit yourself to these and use them as a guideline only. Remember.examiner. Only if you are satisfied with that rough draft proceed with the essay. This is important because you would not get a second chance before one year if you fail in this paper. 1. 8. On rough pages. 8. 2. Articulate it with best words possible. it is usually safe to attempt an essay on current issues as you have ample knowledge base for these issues. 4. otherwise reject it and attempt your second best essay on similar pattern. 7. Reconsider each point for its relevancy and order in the outline. Now reconsider your outline and introduction and assess whether it fulfills the demands of the given essay. Governance and the crises in Pakistan Role of media: freedom versus responsibilities Extremism/Terrorism in Pakistan Global warming Problems of education in Pakistan Status and rights of minorities Corruption in society and politics Women status and rights Democracy in Pakistan English Precis and Composition You can divide this paper into two segments: • Segment – I : 65 marks Precis – 25 marks Comprehension – 20 marks Expansion – 20 marks • Segment – II : 35 marks Change of narration – 5 marks Correction of sentences – 5 marks Idioms – 5 marks Pair of words – 10 marks Antonyms/Synonyms – 10 marks (The examiner may. 10. 9. 9. write an introduction for the essay. Review your points and see if the used words can be replaced with more catchy or striking words.

there is no choice so you have to attempt all. Everyday Science paper is a unique of all papers in the sense that it awards 5-95 marks to the candidates. exclusion formula. Everyday Science paper consists of: Objective Portion • 50 MCQs (attempt them in the order of surety. From subjective portion. Practice is a key in this segment. and logical guessing) Subjective Portion • Two questions usually consists of parts carrying one mark each • Two-three questions comprise five parts each carrying two marks • Two questions comprising two parts each of five marks • One question usually carries 10 marks In objective portion. So forget about your background of science and prepare schematically for this paper. Here it becomes key for success as if you manage to score 30 in this segment your chances of clearing this paper become high. Segment – I is significant as it is a test of your command over language. second preference should be two marks questions and lengthy questions should be avoided. this paper is a piece of cake and I would easily score 90-95 marks in it. Similarly. These . this fact should be kept in mind that this is an examination for the CSS and not a paper of English Literature. You have to demonstrate your skills of comprehending a piece of writing and communicating in writing in a precise and effective manner. after going through just last five years papers. You have sufficient time available. Attempting this paper is skill of which selection of questions is very important. Generally. prefer those questions which carry one mark because chances of getting full 10 marks in that question are more. Practice can help you serve time in other parts. As far as important topics for essay for this year are concerned. Try to solve all 40 past papers questions of précis and comprehension passages. However. For this purpose practise this segment from the past papers and please do not cram sentences written in common guide books available in market. it is usually safe to attempt an essay on current issues as you have ample knowledge base for these issues. Try to make it your habit as time management is very important in this paper. You would find DMCs of allocated candidates who obtained 30-40 marks in this paper.Segment – II is mathematical as your correct answer would accrue full marks. The précis passage mostly consumes around one hour. So. should be. So you should be very clear about what is required of you. I did not prepare well and the paper was a nightmare. Everyday Science I thought. One mark questions are usually of scientific units and abbreviations and reasoning. An extra in this paper may prove a key factor in determining your final standing in merit list.

International organisations: UN. If you go through past 10 years papers. practise drawing them as much as possible and try to draw neat diagrams with proper labeling in paper. Domestic issues include Disaster management and floods Crises (energy and sugar) Bad governance . SAARC. If you go through past 10 years papers. Palestine. candidates should try to write to the point answers in a precise manner. SCO. OIC. Wikileaks and global warming have gathered a lot of attention. you would find many such examples. On international stage. and Chinese Prime Minister‟s to Pakistan and India should be thoroughly covered. Drawing a map is a requirement of most of the questions of this paper. Chromic issues like Afghanistan. confuse the candidates. A candidate should practice four maps in this regard. These questions are fairly simple and very often repeated. India. So this aspect must be kept in mind. NAM. International issues 4. Iran. diagrams carry nearly half marks of each question. One mark questions are usually of scientific units and abbreviations and reasoning. To ensure better preparation. Current Affairs Scoring high marks in this paper demands that the candidate must be well prepared having up-todate knowledge of all current topics. Russia and Muslim countries. So. Pakistan‟s map Central Asia‟s map South Asia‟s map World map Maps printed at the back of diaries can be used for practice. ECO. They carry a lot of unnecessary material and therefore. the visits of President Obama to India. you would find many such examples. It has been a trend in foreign relations questions that the examiner asks the impacts of two countries relations with Pakistan. Do consult the past papers as the books on Everyday Science in the CSS market are too voluminous. candidates may divide this paper into following segments: 1. Domestic issues In this paper.questions are fairly simple and very often repeated. ASEAN 3. For this year‟s paper. Moreover. organisations and foreign relations should be thoroughly covered. EU. Foreign Policy: Foreign Policy and Pakistan‟s relations with China. etc. Kashmir and Iran are also important. In science paper. 2. Afghanistan. US.

Moreover. Purely for the sake of paper. These notions are false and absurd. Islamiyat Last year‟s result surprised many as most of the failed candidates were a victim of this paper. suitable quotations from good sources may be given to support the argument. into following segments: Historical perspective: one – two questions Pakistan Movement: one – two questions Pakistan 1947 – Present: three – four questions This paper demands a critical approach in every attempted question.Corruption and NRO Problems and suggestions for industry. The failure of so many candidates does not mean that their faith is incomplete. exports and tourism Role of media Democracy in Pakistan Natural and human resource potential of Pakistan Problems of education and health sector Pakistan Affairs This paper generally gives low marks but some candidates do score 65 plus marks every year. Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi (RA) Sir Syed Ahmad and Aligarh Comparison of Deoband and Nadwa Pakistan Resolution Constitution – making in Pakistan Geostrategic significance and natural resources in Pakistan Agriculture and exports of Pakistan Problems of health and education Scoring high marks in current affairs demands that the candidate must be well prepared having up-to-date knowledge of all current topics. agriculture. So it is a challenge for every candidate to score higher in this paper. . set aside you confidence in your command over your faith and seize this opportunity to study Islam in detail. There are also many false notions and myths about this paper that the candidates must give moderate views in paper or otherwise prepare to be failed. This paper may also be divided. select two-three good books and read them thoroughly. There is no room for confusion in Islam so give your clear cut view but do not forget to prove it with effective argumentation and examples. on these topics as well: Muslim Society in Subcontinent Ideology of Pakistan Reform movements. The candidates should focus. For this purpose. The candidates may even pick analytical arguments from these books and use them in paper. for schematic preparation. rather they fail to understand the essence of questions. apart from other topics mentioned in syllabus.

But even if you do not quote any references. Email: whackky@gmail. Just keep faith in your abilities and try to give it your best. If you remember any relevant references you should write preferably with other pen and some extra margin left on sides. It purely depends on the question. you might not need more than a few. May Allah bless you all. Success or failure in it would not mean an end to life. could not quote a single reference in Islamiyat paper last year (2009) and still scored 70 per cent marks in Dr Waheed Asghar (CSP) . But if questions demand critical analysis. I would like to remind the candidates that this is just an exam for a job. Islamiyat paper may also be divided into segments: Islamic concept and practices Contemporary problems faced by Muslims The candidates should focus on both segments. suitable quotations from good sources may be given to support the argument. this would not mean a big difference if you answer the question effectively. use of headings is purely defined by the question asked. If you have any suitable heads for your arguments. Some topics for guideline may be: Islamic concept of Universe and Humanity Problems of life and Islamic solution Beliefs on Risalate and Akhirat – Blasphemy question Social and moral codes in Islam vs Western Ethics Islamic political system in comparison with modern democracy Women rights in Islam and legislations against veil in West Political and economic instability in Muslim World Sectarian violence and terrorism in Pakistan Sources of Shariah. I wish everyone of you reading this a very best of luck in all future endeavours of life. try to understand contemporary problems from Islamic point of view. This is no issue as the main purpose is checking your knowledge. One more confusion is about the number of Ayats and Hadith references one has to quote. Many candidates. Leave the rest to Almighty God as He is the most Merciful. Moreover. One more confusion about this paper is about attempting it in Urdu or English. use them with marker in bold style. Similarly. but your argumentation and presentation does. Ijtehad In the end. So choose the language in which you can best attempt the paper. including the writer. English or Urdu does not carry any marks of their own. Moreover.Pakistan Affair paper demands a critical approach in every attempted question. But make sure that you present Almighty God your honest effort.

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