How To Prepare For CSS — Tips For Optional Subject Selection

Picking the right subjects is critically important.–File photo

June has started. If you’re looking to appear in CSS 2022 exam, you have approximately eight months for preparation. Eight months, twelve subjects. It means you have less than a month for each subject. If you thought you had a lot of time, think again.

One of the most common issues aspirants have at this point is the subject selection. In this article, I will try to give you a framework that you can use to select your optional subjects. Remember, this is only my view and can be different from other mentors/teachers that you are listening to.
As CSS students, you should make it a habit to entertain different views and then make a judgement of your own after evaluating each opinion. This is called critical thinking. Anyways, let’s get back to the topic.

For busy aspirants who don’t have time to read long posts, here’s the summary:

1. Select the subjects that you studied in your academic career

2. Select the subjects that interest you the most or you already have a knowledge base about

3. Select the subjects that complement each other

4. Optional: Select the subjects by looking at scoring trends (more on this later)

5. Do not delay the optional selection process till the end. Make a decision and start preparing with clarity of mind

Now let’s explore each option in detail.

First, look for subjects that you have studied in your academic career. If you’ve studied something in your college/university, then you are bound to have a better understanding of that subject in comparison to others. Such subjects give you an edge over other students. So, if you’re a political science, international relations, accounting, mathematics, physics, etc. graduate, you should opt for these subjects. But don’t forget to look at the syllabus and past papers to make a better understanding of the course and expected questions.

Secondly, if you don’t find any subjects from your degree/major, then go for the subjects which you find more interesting or already have a knowledge base about. Personally, I liked world politics and international relations, therefore I went with international relations. You can do the same. If you select something which you don’t like, then you are going to have to drag yourself to study that subject, which is not a good idea. So, study things which you like.

Thirdly, look for subjects which complement other subjects. For example, international law goes well with international relations; Indo-Pak History helps you in Pakistan Affairs; European History and international relations also make a good combination; Math and stats is a good combination and so on. The idea is to look first at your strengths, then interests, and then combining the two of them.

Fourth option is to look at the scoring trend.
I do not recommend that you take this into account. Why? Because no one really knows which subjects will score good and which will score bad. This is completely out of your control and I will not recommend basing your judgement on something you cannot predict. But, if you want to do that then look at the scoring trends of CSS 2020 and make your own judgement.

In the end, do not delay the optional subject selection process too much. Set aside a week/10 days for contemplation, select your optional subjects and start your studies with full clarity of mind.

So, this is all about the optional subject selection. Can you think of any other criteria? Let me know in the comments section.

Talk to you soon.

Tariq Shaikh, PSP, 49th Common

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