Shanza Faiq is the woman who topped the CSS 2018 examinations. More than 11,887 candidates took the exams and only 567 were able to qualify.
She did her BA LLB from Lahore University of Management Sciences and then completed her LLM from the University of Warwick in 2017.
“My story is very different from the rest of the people,” she said while speaking on SAMAA TV programme Naya Din on Tuesday. “I had only two-and-a-half to three months to prepare for the exams, while other people study for it for a year.”
She decided that at the beginning of November to take the exam. “I didn’t go to any academy as I have never believed in taking tuitions even as a child.” The decision proved to be a difficult one for her as she was under a lot of “mental and physical stress”. Faiq said that it was difficult but encouraged people to never give up.
“There were so many moments where I felt like I don’t know what I am doing,” she said. “I had no guidance, I had to make my own notes.”
What, however, helped her was the constant support from her family. “I took them onboard with the decision.” She took two to three weeks to pick her subjects. “I decided at that time that I will not take subjects which everyone was taking. Instead, I decided to take subjects which I was comfortable taking.”
Faiq shared that her father doesn’t permit the use of cellphones on the dinner table, which in turn helped her a lot. The family discusses various topics, ranging from religion to current affairs, and that helped her view issues from different angles.
She said that the internet proved to be the best resource for her. Faiq also reads the newspaper every day.
Compulsory subjects proved to be the most difficult for her. She remarked that she had to memorise and learn a lot of ayats for Islamiyat, and Science was also a challenge as she comes from a social science background.
“The presentation of your answers is very important,” she said. Handwriting, outlines, headings are equally important as what you are writing, she added.
She chose to be inducted in the Foreign Services of Pakistan. When asked about the decision, she said that her father served in the foreign office briefly and that Pakistani diplomat Maleeha Lodhi has also been her role model.