‘Think clear, write simple’ is the key
Taking a break from hardcore political stuff, I decided to write on something that is of concern to many young people here in Pakistan. Almost everyone in Pakistan, whether young or old, has attempted or aims to attempt the highly stressful and hyped exam of Central Superior Services (CSS).
The CSS exam does not come alone, it brings with itself a lot of pressure and a multitude of suggestions and pieces of advice from everyone in your circle, who may or may not, have taken the exam. If there is already a CSP in your family, may God help you! The pressure increases manifold in this case while the longstanding wish of parents or siblings is another factor that forces the people to give this exam.
The poor job market and high unemployment rate in the country also makes sense for a large number of people wanting to give the CSS exam every year as it promises a secure and steady career, to say the least. On average, over 10,000 candidates from all across Pakistan appear every year, out of which only a few hundred are able to pass. Now these people who pass are not some special creatures of God but only have nerves strong enough to survive through this immense pressure.
Having gone through the experience and observed friends and fellows for over a year, there are a few things which I think are important for all the CSS aspirants. Two papers a day, three hours each, is what makes the challenge appear so tough as we are not so used to writing or studying that much since our college times. The semester system in universities does not require that much hard work but CSS is different in a way that it requires the stamina of a BA student who appears in the annual exam system. This is what their criterion of admission is – a simple BA – and that’s what they require of the CSPs: a mental aptitude equal to that of a BA student.
Having said that, one can safely assume that the study pattern for CSS is largely similar to that of BA or intermediate exams as the candidates are required to fill sheets, remaining coherent and relevant in our writing. Do not try to appear too smart for the examiner, stick to the basics and answer only what’s asked of you.
Come to English. The thing that becomes a deciding factor in the exam. Good English is a pre-requisite for CSS as most of the papers, with Islamic Studies as an exception, have to be given in English. People with good English do not face much of a difficulty expressing their thoughts in the paper as they are well aware of the basic structure, tenses and syntax of the language. But make sure, you don’t appear to be too difficult to comprehend. Remember BA. This is probably the reason why even Oxford or Harvard graduates or English journalists are not able to pass the exam, they try to be too efficient with their language, using high vocabulary words and complex sentences to express their ideas. Think clear, write simple is the key.
Critical analysis comes in handy for almost all the subjects except some hard sciences. Reading newspaper and books helps develop that ability. Quote some stats or examples to substantiate your answer. You don’t necessarily need to memorise. Every subject has its own demand. Choose subjects that better suit your interests, complements your strengths and which you think are easier for you to write upon.
Whether for preparation or during exams, time management is the most important thing in CSS. The candidates are required to attempt four lengthy questions in 2.5 hours
Time management. Whether for preparation or during exams, time management is the most important thing in CSS. The candidates are required to attempt four lengthy questions in 2.5 hours. For these, some people have spent years studying. They sure have too much knowledge but how to express it is the trick. Make sure not to spend too much time on one question that you are well prepared for that you don’t have enough time to complete the rest. It’s just a matter of what you write in those 2.5 hours that will determine your success. Manage time effectively and remain vigilant of where you stand.
As the exams are approaching near, pressure is again mounting on the aspirants to give their best this year. In that pursuit, they sometimes panic so much that they get blank on exam day. Anxiety can get to you, it’s quite normal and natural, but how you survive through it matters. CSS is a game of nerves so keep your nerves in control and it will be a smooth sailing.
Lastly, always keep in mind that CSS is just an exam so take it as an exam, not as a matter of life or death. Your life will not end if you don’t pass. There’s so much more to life and so many more opportunities waiting for you if not CSS. Do not push yourself too hard into this and believe when it is simply not meant for you. Hard work and luck go hand in hand here.