By Muhammad Asim Jasra (PSP)
9.Making maps, diagrams, flow charts
Maps, graphs, flow diagrams add to the presentation of your paper and fetch extra marks. No scale is needed to draw the maps in the paper of current affairs. Do the practice of drawing rough sketches of maps. The candidate should draw a map in just 3 to 4 minutes- and not more than that. Map should be relevant to the topic. It should be labeled and self-explanatory. Practice drawing the rough sketches of the following maps.
- World map showing the division of continents
- Map of regional blocs i.e SAARC, SCO, ECO.
- Map of Pakistan
- Map of the Middle East
- Map of Subcontinent showing Kashmir
- Map of Kashmir
- Map of the Muslim World
- Other maps relating to the conflicts and issues
Flow charts and diagrams simplify the concepts for the examiner and make his task easier. Please keep this point in mind:
“The more you facilitate the examiner, the higher score you are going to secure.”
It is to be kept in mind that no such technique should be used in the Essay paper as it comprises only paragraphs.
- Principles of Impressive Writing
- Good writing skills are supported by reading, observation, imagination, and critical thinking.
One should be clear in one’s mind about the topic on which one is going to write. One should develop the habit of clear thinking and expression.
So, it can be said that good writing skills are the product of the following:
- Clear thinking
10.Role of practice
Impressive writing is a skill that can be learned through practice. Try to write 2- 3 paragraphs daily.
11.Light and pleasant tone
One should try to write in a light and pleasant tone, though the tone of the writing may depend on the nature of the subject. Give lightness, grace, and ease to your writing. You cannot make your writing interesting for the reader if you are not yourself interested in writing it.
12.Try to write in paragraph form
Always try to write in paragraph form. In paragraph form, one states the topic sentence first and then builds arguments in support of the topic sentence. This style of writing is called a simple style of writing. The first sentence in the paragraph is called the topic sentence, which is a general one. It is supported by the facts and figures in the following sentences. For example:
Corruption in Pakistan has increased over the years. Pakistan stands at 124th position among the countries of the world according to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 published by the Transparency International. Pakistan stood at the 120th position as per CPI of 2019. This poor ranking of Pakistan on the CPI suggests that the elimination of this menace in Pakistan has still been an elusive dream. And so on…….
It is a requirement for the essay to write in paragraph form without giving a heading. However, in other papers, a paragraph should follow the appropriate and specific heading. For example, if you are linking the state of political instability with the reduction in foreign direct investments in the country, you should give the title “Political instability; an impediment in the way of foreign direct investment” instead of giving the title: “Reason behind reduced Foreign Direct investment.”
Though there is no hard and fast rule about the strength of a paragraph, the standard strength may be set as 5- 8 sentences. The following guidelines should be kept in mind while writing a paragraph:
- Each paragraph revolves around one central idea, which is stated in the first sentence called the topic sentence.
- Remaining sentences build arguments in favor of the central idea.
- There should be one central idea in one paragraph.
- Sentences should be in a logical sequence and order. The sequence of thoughts should be followed. The successive sentences should draw the keyword or think from the preceding sentences. For example, the Capital of Punjab is Lahore. Lahore is a historical city. (2nd sentence borrows the keyword ‘Lahore’ from the first sentence.) If you follow the logical sequence of thoughts, you are going to facilitate your examiner.
“The more you facilitate the examiner, the more you will get from him.”
Connectors should be used to bring coherence to a paragraph. Certain connectors are as under:
- For this reason,
- Owing to this factor,
- First, second, and the last
13.Avoid blunt criticism
Avoid blunt criticism. If you want to criticize, you should do it in a mild and balanced way with facts and logical arguments.
14.Your opinion should be supported by logical arguments
You should state your arguments from a personal point of view. It implies that your personal opinion on any subject should be duly supported by logical arguments and data.
What you write should be relevant to the topic in question. No irrelevant idea should be made part of your writing. For example, if you are asked to write on the topic of women’s rights in Islam, it is irrelevant to give the details of feminist movements in the history of the world.
Use simple and meaningful words to convey what you want to say. It is always advised that popular words should be used to convey the intended meaning. For example, if you want to refer to a rise in the price of commodities, using the word inflation is direct and appropriate. However, the use of appropriate synonyms is advised to avoid the repetition of a single word. Keep the following rules in mind while writing.
- Prefer short words to long ones.
- Prefer simple words to complex.
- Prefer the popular word to the unfamiliar.
- Prefer the direct word to the indirect reference.
- Prefer concrete and specific words to the abstract term. If you are writing on the topic of global warming, it is better to use ‘greenhouse gases’ instead of pollutants.
- Avoid slang
- Don’t use hackneyed quotations and phrases.
It is said that any word that does not add to the meaning of a sentence injures it.
17.Length of the sentence
There is, again, no hard and fast rule for the length of a sentence. However, short and moderate sentences should be used as they give clarity. Long sentences may be used keeping in view the nature of the subject and the significance of the idea. However, writing long sentences require a lot of care in order to prevent the possibility of grammatical mistake.
18.Getting what you write checked by a reliable teacher
It is very important to get what you write checked by a reliable teacher. Otherwise, you will keep on repeating the same mistakes again and again.
19.Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle because a healthy body has a healthy mind. Only a healthy mind can face the challenge of the uphill task of the competitive Examination. Someone has rightly said that if he is given 8 days time to cut a tree, he will spend 6 days sharpening the axe. Optimizing the capacity of your mind is a pre-requisite for success in the competitive Examination. You can optimize the capacity of your mind by adopting a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Following healthy lifestyle changes should be incorporated:
- Sleep early, around 10 pm, so that you can take sound sleep at night.
- Get up early before sunrise.
There is a famous proverb that says:
Do not let the sun rise before you if you want to succeed.
The habit of getting up early does not come alone. It comes along with other allied good habits, which are stated as under:
- Start your day with morning prayers. In this way, you apply Allah’s will to your goals and aspirations. It is the best start you can take.
- Do exercise or go for a morning walk.
- Make your breakfast around 8 am, which stimulates your metabolic rate to keep you physically fit and healthy. Do not delay your breakfast. It keeps obesity away from you in addition to many other health benefits.
- Have around one hour of sleep around 2 pm to energize yourself if it is possible for you.
- Do some sports or physical activity between Asr and evening prayers.
- Eat healthy and natural food. Avoid oily / processed food, bakery items, and carbonated drinks.
No one will fill the tank of his precious Ferrari car with substandard fuel. Here the question arises why do people eat junk food? Are their bodies less valuable than their vehicles?
- Keep yourself hydrated always. Drink a lot of water.
- Adopt the habit of being grateful all the time. Do not be the complaining one. Be grateful to Almighty for His countless blessings upon you. Gratitude creates and enhances positive energy in you. It gives you spiritual strength to rise and work hard.
- Work hard but keep yourself relaxed. Keep the following quote in your mind:
Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
- Try to share what you have with others. It will come back multiplied.
- Learn the art of staying happy all the time, no matter your situation. Living a happy life is an art that can be learned.
20.Time Management during the course of preparation
Better time management is the key to success. It comes from incorporating healthy lifestyle changes in one’s life. One such lifestyle change is to get up before sunrise and start your day early. It leaves enough time for study.
Divide your 24 hours into small time blocks.
First time block from 8 am to 1 pm (5 hours)
The first time block is a big chunk of time which comprise almost 5 hours that can be allocated to study.
2nd-time block from 1 pm to 2 pm (1 hour)
This is the time of Zuhr prayers and lunch break.
Third-time block from 2 pm to 3 pm (1 hour)
You make short sleep during this short interval to energize yourself.
4th-time block from 3 pm to Asr prayer
It is a short interval to study till Asr prayer.
5th-time block from Asr to Evening prayers
This time may be allocated to evening sports, walking, or any other physical activity.
6th-time block from evening prayers to one hour after evening prayers
You can offer evening prayers, have dinner and walk in this one-hour interval.
7th-time block (Night study time)
In the end, you study for a few hours up till 10 pm before you go to sleep.
In this way, you can allocate 9 to 10 hours for study along with maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Around 10 hours of study is enough for the day.
This timetable is just for example. Aspirants can make their own schedule keeping in view their own requirements and the number of hours available for study.
In order to have more time for study, one should avoid distractions that waste one’s precious time. Examples of distractions are as under:
- Spending time on social media for purposes other than study
- Attending unnecessary social gatherings
After making notes, you should keep on revising on a weekly or fortnightly basis. It is always good to specify one whole day weekly or fortnightly for revision of the notes. In this way, you can preserve data in your mind.
23.Time Management during Examination
In all papers, an Essay paper being the exception, you are required to attempt more than one question. It is therefore required to calculate the average time for one question and adhere to that timeline.
For example, There are 180 minutes to attempt a paper. 20 minutes may be left for review of the paper in the end. Normally the candidate is required to attempt one compulsory question of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) in 30 minutes, leaving 130 minutes for the remaining 4 subjective questions. It means the candidates have to complete one question in almost 32 minutes.
24.How to attempt a question in 32 minutes
You may take 3 to 4 minutes for brainstorming/thinking and noting down the rough outline on the last page of the answer sheet to be labeled as rough work. There is no need to start writing with haste. Be composed and think about the relevant outline. Attempt the question in the remaining 28-29 minutes in the light of the rough outline. Leave space for the outline (finalized) at the beginning of the question, which may be added to the question after completing the question. Why is it so that we allocate space at the beginning of the question and allocate time at the end? It enables us to amend the rough outline and add finished outlines in the last minutes.
Why is it important to add an outline?
- It keeps you focused. The relevance of the contents to the question is maintained. No irrelevant idea finds a place in your answer.
- It gives a logical sequence to your answer. You become able to state your ideas in an organized way.
- You get enough time to recall your memory and knowledge stored in your mind.
25.Enjoy the current phase of preparation for the competitive Examination
In the end, a last word of caution for you. Do not take the preparation for the Competitive Examination as a kind of fatigue or liability. Take this as an opportunity to learn and change your life. Let what you read and learn to develop your personality. Once you have decided to opt for this field, now it is time to work hard with devotion and commitment. Just enjoy reading.
Preparation for the competitive Examination is not just for the purpose of the Examination. It develops your personality and grooms you to be a responsible and efficient officer.
Best of luck with your journey toward CSS!!!