Many aspirants keep on asking me how to start preparing. The tension of the preparation really takes its toll on students and they seem to go astray while starting their preparation. They seem lost as to what approach is to be taken. Some even ask if everything under the sun is to be prepared. Some on the other hand think that Karavaan/Dogar Sons Keys would suffice for the preparation. Both of these are extremes and would result in a ridiculous amount of time wasting. I have experienced that this question is often asked during my first lecture. My answer is simple. Consider the syllabus as the bible for your preparation.
Syllabus is like a blueprint on which the entire edifice is to be built. Keep referring to it again and again and again, till it becomes your second nature. 80-90% of the questions will be coming from it directly. People keep on complaining that Pakistan Affairs is so vast, how can I read so many etc. Following syllabus is the answer to such questions. Syllabus is like the lighthouse which guides ship safely to the harbour amidst the travesties of the ocean. Keep yourself focused on the syllabus.
During my preparation for CSS back in 2005 a senior who topped in exams concluded that his reason for acing the exams was sticking to syllabus only. I vividly remember that he had memorized the entire syllabus and had underlined each word of the syllabus of each subject and prepared accordingly. I thought that this approach was too bookish and probably futile. He then convinced me that he has gone this far because this way even if he is watching TV or having a conversation with some friends, and if a relevant discussion comes up, his mind automatically flags it and in turn he starts focusing on that program or discussion. This way even in leisure time, his brain is programmed to pick and learn paper related matters.
One another aspect of importance of syllabus is that even FPSC directs the examiner to make question paper encompassing the syllabus. That’s exactly the reason why question number 1 in any subject is almost always from topic number 1 of syllabus and so on. Therefore consider this as the most important tip and stick to syllabus.