Yayasan Khazanah has several scholarships up for application: the Global, Watan, Asia, Cambridge and Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Merdeka Scholarships. I am a Yayasan Khazanah (YK) Global Scholar, sponsored for both my Pre-U and Undergraduate studies. The process has not changed much since I went through the 4 stages (2 years ago). In the following I shall run you through how my interviews & tests went and make notes of how they have changed. Here goes:
The online application is pretty straightforward with the usual submission of information like name, DOB, interested field of study, extra-curriculars, etc. Applicants were also required to write an essay, “Why the Khazanah Scholarship is for you and how would you contribute to the good governance practices and leadership development of Malaysia”. From what I gather, the essay question has not changed. It is also in my opinion the most difficult part of the application. Also, I applied for the scholarship right after my SPM results came out. Take note of the deadlines. I submitted mine just before it closed. (That wasn’t a particularly good move)
Stage 1: Aptitude/IQ Test
A few weeks after the application, I was notified via email that I made it to Stage 1. When I arrived at the test venue, there were hundreds of others in attendance as well. This was a series of 4 timed tests, which tested us on skills ranging from math to spatial. This took an hour or two for completion. Tip: The test looks to assess your skills. Do not feel bad if you failed to complete every question from each section. I did not complete 2 sections too. When we were talking to our scholarship manager, she mentioned that each one of the scholars was better at some sections than others. Personally, it isn’t something you can fully prepare for. Being calm and confident is key. Since then, YK has changed this to an online test where all successful applicants would be given a link to follow and a deadline to complete the test.
Stage 2: More Written Tests, Group Interviews and Individual Interviews
The wait from Stage 1 to Stage 2 was an agonizing one. I remember hearing of people making it to Stage 2 and thinking I had failed. Lo behold, at 4 am one morning, I received the email telling me I made it. (YK people do work LATE into the night) During my time, it was a full jam-packed one-day Assessment. Now, it has been made into a 3-day Assessment Camp. 1. Group Presentation/Case Study: The Stage 2 attendees were split into 2 groups. Each group were asked to prepare a presentation ‘Should formal or informal language on social media be used by corporate companies to communicate with their customers’. One team was pro formal language and the other vice versa. During the presentation, actively answer and ask questions. Tip: Note that the assessors will be watching you during the discussion sessions too. Do not be afraid to voice your opinions and hear out the others. Take charge. After the group presentation the 2 teams were led to separate rooms. Essentially, both teams did the same thing albeit in a different order. 2. Group Discussion: In my team, we were broken down into smaller teams of 5. With a panel of 2, each of us in the team was given a different topic to think about. We did not know others’ topics. Tip: While the others are being asked on their topic, you’re given a chance to think about yours. However, do take note of what the others are talking about because the panel might choose to ask you what you think of what another person said instead of asking you about your topic. The aim is to catch you when you least expect it. Multitasking is important. 3. Written Test/Questionnaire: We were required to answer a few questions based on a questionnaire (A-G). Some were straightforward whilst some required thinking and writing short paragraphs. Tip: Read through the questionnaire (A-G) and the questions given. Think before you write but also be aware of the time. There is no right or wrong, just your opinion. Remember to justify your answers. 4. Individual Interview: This was done with one interviewee to 2 interviewers. They’ll ask basic questions like: what do you want to do, how do you see yourself in 10 years, explain one of your extra-curricular activities, etc. Tip: Carry yourself well (don’t be over-confident or too nervous), answer the questions honestly, do not be afraid to tell them you are unsure. If you NEED TIME TO THINK tell them to give you a minute and THINK BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING. Also, talking to the other people did help ease the nervousness. Be social, talking to others is good practice before an interview. Once you’ve made it past the Assessment – be it in one day or 3 – give yourself a pat on the back and treat yourself. Kudos!
Stage 3: Interview
Stage 3 is a one-to-one interview with the Director of YK. In this stage, someone will give you a question to prepare. Once in the interview room, you will talk about yourself (based on the given question) within a time frame. The interviewer will not ask you any questions. You are permitted to ask a few questions about the scholarship. Tip: This session is largely about first impression and how you carry yourself. Since all the Director has heard and seen of you up to this point is based on your assessments (in a file), it is NOW time to convince him YES I AM THE ONE! Again be confident and remember first impressions DO MATTER.
Stage 4: One Last Interview
Rejoice! You’re almost there. This brief session is a casual conversation with the Board of Directors. Here, there is no fixed set of questions. The BOD will already have seen your previous assessment results. Now, they would like to know more about you. My conversation with them diverted to talking about Astro. Tip: Again, first impressions DO MATTER. Don’t be too put off by unexpected questions. Take your time to think. After Stage 4, you may breathe a sigh of relief and pray for the last email. An approximate break down of the number of people that made it past each stage in my year goes a bit like this: 1000+ applicants -> 1000 -> 400 -> 50-100 -> 8 -> 4 pre-u + 3 undergrad GOOD LUCK!
Valerie Ngow has just completed her A-Levels at KYUEM last July. She’s headed to University College London this September to pursue Mechanical Engineering under the Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Programme. She may be small but do not be fooled for she’s a little cili-padi. 🙂