Important Instructions for CSS Examination

(Prof. Mansoor A. Nasir, London)

Federal Public Service Commission has revised the syllabi for CSS Competitive Examination 2016. There are some drastic changes made in the syllabi that may add to the worries, labour and consequently the knowledge of the aspirants. But there is nothing to be worried about as long as you have firm determination and a strong will to work hard to achieve your goal. The new changes have made one thing very much clear: now there is no scope for those who go to academies and tuition centers to lower their IQ in a bid to enhance their knowledge.

Academies and tuition centers are, in fact, fake rehabilitation clinics where you are made to enter and exit with crutches in the form of outworn and out-of-date notes. They make you a dimwit and lamebrain instead of making you a knowledgeable and well-informed person. You mug up some of these notes, and then vomit them in the examination hall. And the result day becomes the doomsday for you. The new changes made in the syllabi will shut the doors of such tuition centers and will go a long way to open the closed doors of your mind. Now you will have to use your own mind, observe minutely what is happening around you and put a question mark on everything that is against the natural flow of things. Now you cannot think using the mind of your tutor - the poor soul who could not get through the Competitive Examination years ago. The only way to take revenge for his failure was to open an academy, fleece you and let not you succeed in the examination.

‘Competitive’ means ‘involving competition’. In competitive examinations you have to do your utmost to be more brilliant and successful than others. So in such examinations you have to maintain your individuality by maintaining a balance between your physical, mental and spiritual faculties and capabilities. This you cannot obtain and maintain in such so-called educational institutions where scores of ambitious but work-shy boys and girls gather just to chat-chat or pose to be future bureaucrats. They have nothing valuable to receive. Nor do they have anything worthwhile to pass on. The proof of my assertion is the results of past examinations in which more than 50% candidates failed to obtain even pass marks. Others were those who were ‘real future bureaucrats’. They were found in libraries, old book shops, internet cafes or in small groups discussing some important national or international event.

So what should you do? Before suggesting anything practicable, useful and helpful, I would like to narrate the interesting story of one of my friends. Mr. X was my colleague in Multan in 1982. His fiancée asked him to pass CSS examination before marriage. Mr. X had no choice but to obey her. After all, she was the one whom he had loved when even to think of getting married was impossible. He had left only one month to prepare for the examination. He decided to study only compulsory subjects and leave optional papers to his fate. He did not apply for leave and continued attending college regularly. He spent hardly three to four hours daily in studying compulsory papers. I noticed he was not worried or nervous. He was calm, composed and unruffled as usual.

A day before the examination he showed me the notes that he had prepared. I was surprised to see that they were just jottings spread hardly on twenty or thirty pages. I noticed that his notes mostly consisted of the statements made by the rulers of Afghanistan, Iran, India, America and Pakistan. At that time Afghanistan and Iran were passing through the most turbulent and critical phase of their history. The most important statements he collected were of General Zia of Pakistan, Khomeini of Iran and Carter of America. There were also some verses from the Holy Quran and a few Hadiths. ‘Will it be enough to pass all compulsory papers?’ I asked him. “Let’s see what happens,” he smiled.

He smiled also on the day when the result was announced. He had passed all written papers including optional papers. ‘Miracle! Isn’t it?” he asked. “Yes. It is.” I was spellbound. He told me that before the examination, he had decided that he would appear in the examination fully prepared next year. This year he would just rehearse to find out how much hard work it required to pass the CSS examination. “So what did you conclude?” “Nothing new or special’. And this is what he told me.
‘The moment I decided that this year I’ll just rehearse, I got relaxed, and thus I started ENJOYING reading books, newspapers and magazines and listening to TV news channels both local and foreign. I found out that my mind had not only become more receptive but had also started retaining facts easily. So the first rule that I learned from my experience was: RELAX AND DON’T GET CONFUSED.

As I knew I was not appearing in the examination to pass it, I became more daring. I did not confine myself to what was written in the books or to what other people think and say. I opened my heart and wrote what I used to think about matters people were very much careful and touchy. I lambasted Amir Mu‘āwiya, Khomeini and General Zia. Amir Mu‘āwiya was the first king in the history of Islam. He was the first to raise walls between the ruler and the ruled. Khomeini’s revolution in Iran could in no way be called an Islamic revolution. He killed people without giving them any chance to clear their position or describe their stance on matters Khomeini did not agree with them. General Zia was a hypocrite and betrayer. He used Islam for his personal benefits and interests. He hoodwinked the people for whom the very word ‘Islam’ was sacred and holy deserving all their respect, but who were completely ignorant of the basic principles of Islam. And the examiners liked, if not accepted, my point of view because I had expressed my true feelings with solid evidences. So the second important thing that I learnt was: BE CRITICAL AND ANALYTICAL USING YOUR OWN MIND AND DEPENDING ON YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND OBSERVATION. But try to remain impartial, unbiased and honest. Don’t let your personal prejudices distort the facts.

You wonder how I managed to succeed in optional papers when I had not read much about them. I think you don’t know that before joining lectureship I worked as a journalist for some English newspapers and magazines. I have been reading English newspapers for the last twenty years. Now I am so well-versed in English that while reading English newspaper I don’t feel I’m reading something in English. It becomes as easy for me to read as Urdu is. I’m not an M.A. in English, but daily practice of reading English newspapers, magazines and novels have polished and improved my English imperceptibly. I read scores of Urdu and English novels when I was doing my B.A. Extensive reading not only improved my language skill but also increased my knowledge about Pakistan affairs, international affairs, Islam and other religions, science, philosophy and many other fields. So I can safely say that the third important factor that contributed to my success was EXTENSIVE READING. This extensive reading was done not to pass some examination but to gain knowledge and pleasure. I have always enjoyed reading. Once I read that Agha Hashar, the famous playwright of the subcontinent, used to read every piece of paper he came across. This mounted my interest in reading. I adopted the same habit, and I saw that my knowledge about different fields of life increased without spending much time and money.

As I have already told you I did not do my M.A. in English. Mostly people think that in order to pass the CSS examination one must do M.A. in English. It is absolutely a wrong impression. Some of my friends are CSP officers. They were doctors and engineers before joining the civil services. This leads us to another conclusion. To pass CSS examination it is not necessary that one should do one’s masters in English only. My personal experience is that those who do masters in History or Political Science perform better in the examination than those who hold a master’s degree in English. CSS examination requires general English that is used in speaking and writing something in our daily life. We do not use literary language in our daily conversation with others. Moreover, those holding degrees in History or Political Science can use their knowledge of history and politics in almost all compulsory papers and in some optional papers as well. It is because of this that I lay much emphasis on reading English novels, magazines and newspapers regularly. By doing this you not only increase your knowledge about history, politics, current affairs, social problems, religious matters and new scientific research, but also improve your English. With the passage of time new words and new constructions become a part of your vocabulary. And you start writing good English in an easy, natural and continuous way.”

The story of my friend is both informative and interesting. It dispels many myths ‘making the molehill out of the mountain’. CSS Examination is not an uphill task. It is not a child’s play either. But once you jump into the arena you enjoy testing your mettle. And if you follow the instructions of my friend you will be able to cope well with difficulties and face the challenging situation in a spirited and resilient way.

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