PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP) – Experience of getting a sponsorship to the US –

Judging from past year articles by scholars, the selection process is being continuously tweaked year by year. This is solely based on my experience: yours might be entirely different.

PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP)

A scholarship offered by Petroliam Nasional Sdn. Bhd. for post-SPM students in majors ranging from Accounting to Sociology, from Applied Chemistry to Instrumentation Engineering. A scholar’s tuition and living fees will be fully-sponsored for pre-university level and undergraduate level.

How to Apply

1.       Google for the Petronas Scholarship for the current year. An easy way to keep track of all the scholarships would be following the websites and Facebook pages like and

2.       Fill in your personal details (NO essay, NO resume! NICEST ONE!)

3.       Select your intended major and country of study.

·         Economics, Law students are typically sent to the UK (after studying the A-Level at KDU or KYUEM)

·         Psychology, Maths, Computer Science are primarily sent to the US (Pre-U: American Degree Program at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus)

·         Australia-bound students first take South Australian Matriculation (SAM) at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus

·         Petroleum Engineering students study locally, starting with a Foundation course at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP, the best private university in Malaysia!)

A few hundred people will be shortlisted from applicants from all over Malaysia for the Petronas YoungStar Day. The event was conducted in both Kuala Lumpur and Sabah.

Interview process

First round

·         Thinking Skills Assessment (approx. 1 hr). The questions are primarily testing your thinking skills. Prior knowledge is not needed.

Second round

·         Group interview (1 hour, in a group of 5 to 6)

·         Discussion and presentation on a whiteboard as a group

·         Atmosphere

–          Relaxing

–          Most group members were cooperative and most likely everyone will get the chance to voice their opinion. The officers listened respectfully without contradicting any ideas so don’t worry too much about their response.

–          However, you might have questions directed at you by the officers and group members in a brief discussion session after each member justified their answers.

·         The question: How would we improve Petronas petrol stations’ and Kedai Mesra’s sales?

·         Here are some of my answers as well as my friends’:

·         Kad mesra (gaining points to exchange with gifts) to be given out straight away (community-based card)

·         In Kedai Mesra stores along the highway where efficiency and convenience are of great importance, the process of purchasing Mesra goods is made efficient. Customers can make direct purchases.

·         Introduce a mascot for branding

·         Introduce innovative store or petrol transformations and advertise about the changes

·         Mobile app for Petronas (innovate the app to make it more user-friendly and advertise it)        

·         Massage chairs, facilities for kids, free breakfast (the general idea here is to increase customer satisfaction)

·         Feedback – we were allotted a session to talk about how we felt about the day, what people we met, what we learnt, and whether we liked their interview style/activities done. You should be sincere and positive.

One piece of advice

As the scholarship results will be released later than the enrolment date of A-Levels (specifically January and March intakes), Foundation and STPM, you should consider attending one of them first. It’s wise to plan for different possibilities and prepare for your future.

The Petronas scholarship results were announced near the end of May for the first batch students, while the second batch were notified near the end of July. And the third batch students were notified near the end of August.

Advice for the interview

I would not say I have any solid advice in getting the scholarship as there are a host of uncontrollable factors in the selection process.  I’ll just outline some interview guidelines instead:

1.       Research about Petronas beforehand

·         It’d be great to integrate some of their social mission, or values in the discussion

·         to also show that you’re interested in the company itself

2.      Prepare questions to ask if possible

·         It would be unwise to ask something that can be found on the website

·         But don’t worry if you can’t find a question, I didn’t.

3.       Smile widely (Keep smiling!)

4.       Be kind but argumentative

·         It’s fine to disagree, but you must show that you have a solid opinion

5.       Give your most creative ideas

6.       Be specific and realistic

With that said, I wish you good luck ! You have come a long way to score in SPM after tons of hard work. I believe that if you’re motivated enough to make an effort and apply for one of these scholarships, you definitely have the potential to get one!

Other resources

It might also be useful to check out this link to learn more about a senior’s journey as a Petronas scholar. In it, the author recounted her life post-SPM until now.

Articles about Interview Process that I found insightful




The author, who wishes to be anonymised, was a PESP recipient for the year 2018.



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