To be among top 50-100 candidates, you need to score at least 56% (672) to 60% (720) in the written exam of 1200 marks. But, you cannot get 60% grades in each subject. For instance, the Essay paper gives a tough time to most aspirants. Nevertheless, a very specific lot can go up to 50% and even 60%. Similarly, scoring trends of Pakistan Affairs and Islamiat has also not been encouraging in recent years. Therefore, you have to breakdown your subjects and then set targets against each of them.
For achieving success the goal must be clear. More important is to know that how to reach that goal. Getting into CSS takes a lot of energies. Investing weeks and months of tireless efforts is for a certain goal and that is to become a Civil Servant of Pakistan. This time of year is very crucial; nerve-wrecking pressure is raising tensions as CSS exam is just around the corner. At the end of the day, what will matter is how skilfully you have presented your arguments on the answer sheet because you will be assessed on the basis of your answers. So in a nutshell, you have to get excellent marks to be a CSP. Following paragraphs are aimed at elaborating a few points that can help you secure maximum marks.
1. Set Targets
Let us make it simple. To be among top 50-100 candidates, you need to score at least 56% (672) to 60% (720) in the written exam of 1200 marks. But, you cannot get 60% grades in each subject. For instance, the Essay paper gives a tough time to most aspirants. Nevertheless, a very specific lot can go up to 50% and even 60%. Similarly, scoring trends of Pakistan Affairs and Islamiat has also not been encouraging in recent years. Therefore, you have to breakdown your subjects and then set targets against each of them. For instance, you can excel in optional subjects and can also score 60-70% and even more in Everyday Science and Current Affairs. This will turn the equation in your favour and will compensate for the subjects in which you couldn't fetch good marks. Hence, it is of paramount importance to understand and calculate your targets and work accordingly to achieve them.
2. Prepare Objectives Well
Apart from Essay and English Précis & Composition, each paper of 100 marks carries MCQs of 20 marks, barring Everyday Science in which MCQs consist of 50 marks. This means objective portion carries 230 marks out of a total of 1200. This is a considerable portion because it can make a lot of difference in boosting your score and, of course, merit. To explain it further, on average, you can get 10/20 objectives right in a paper but you can score 13-14 marks with a little extra effort. This would boost your score by 27-36 marks through objective portion only — excluding EDS. This may be a difference of more than 100 candidates on merit.
3. Give Outlines
Outline is very important as it guides the examiner about what you have written. It is like the skeleton of an answer. Normally, we associate outline only with Essay paper but it proves very handy and helpful if given before writing your answer to a question in all papers. The point is to facilitate the examiner. It tells your assurance about what you would be writing and would also make your expression coherent.
4. Proper Introduction and Conclusion
You must also write introductory and concluding paragraphs for each question, particularly in Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs and Islamiat as well as in optional subjects like Political Science, International Relations, History, Sociology, Journalism, etc. For a good score, a proper beginning and ending to an answer is imperative. Introduction guides the examiner as to how you are going to build your argument and justify it. Conclusion is always important to tell the examiner that you are convinced about your points. This will also give your answer an attractive appearance which would be more appealing to the examiner.
5. Use of Headings
One-word heading are not preferable. Headings should be pithy and sententious. Moreover, there are certain headings that are used frequently in each question like introduction, conclusion, causes, effects, suggestions, analysis, etc. For them, you can also use some synonyms or alternatives. For example, for introduction you can write prologue, introductory note or opening remarks; for conclusion, epilogue, concluding remarks or end note while for causes, factors or reasons maybe the suitable alternatives.
6. Quotations and Facts & Figures
Your answer is basically the tool through which you have to convince the examiner that you deserve good marks. All your answers must be weighty and convincing. Therefore, data elements, statistics, maps, diagrams and sometimes apt and relevant quotations add to the effectiveness of your words. Most significantly, in Essay or Current Affairs the strongest way of authenticating your argument is facts and figures. Whereas, diagrams and maps can be drawn in papers like Geography, quotations can be used in any paper i.e. Islamiat, Pak Affairs, History, Essay, Current Affairs, etc. But when quoting someone directly, do give reference; otherwise, quote indirectly and relate it to your paragraph or subject matter. Irrelevant quotes are good for nothing.
Remember, you are striving for the best and competing with the best; so, be at your best. In competition, only grades and merit matters. So, you have to stand head and shoulders above others. Practice all right things that bring you closer to your target and defeat your fears and follies. Stay focused during your exam and write relevant and logical stuff. You can command success with perfection of your expression and this perfection comes through formal presentation, strong, cogent and logical arguments supported with facts and figures and other aides. In a nut shell, to attain your dreams and ambitions you always need to go an extra mile but in the right direction.
With this prayer, I am leaving you on a high note that you all do well in your attempt. Amen!
The author is a PAS officer 37th CTP.