JPA National Scholarship

Applying for the JPA scholarship was not troublesome, that I can say. Compared to other agencies or organisations I applied to, which sometimes asked for essays and my CV, JPA’s was based solely on a two-stage selection process. The first was an online application in which all applicants were required to fill in their basic details, SPM results, preferred course and country plus a little bit of family members’ information.

If your application was taken into consideration, you would then receive an invitation letter for interview session via email from JPA. They usually hold their interview sessions over several days in each region scattered all over Malaysia, so fret not if you’re from Sabah or Sarawak, you don’t have to come all the way to KL just for it. Your interview location depends on which region you filled in earlier. Either way, in all places, the process would be the same. Included in the invitation letter was the dress code, which personally I thought was very simple during my time: just dark sports attire.

Next came the exciting part of the selection process; the second stage which was the interview itself. We were first divided into several groups of six or seven. From here on, the interview would revolve around 2 checkpoints. The first checkpoint was a group presentation, where they randomly provided a topic for each group to discuss within a time frame and present it visually on a piece of mahjong paper. Everything in this round was carried out in English. For my group, we were asked to discuss the pros and cons of working in the private and public sector. During the prep time, the JPA officers in charge would stay in the room and observe everyone, so it’s really important to be an active team player or team leader throughout the discussion. If you’re unsure about the assigned topic, make sure you grasp the whole concept before the prep time ended, as the JPA officers and other applicants from another group can ask anything related.

Let’s say you are suddenly aware of how passive everyone in your group is. The discussion still has to be done on time, so I’d advise you to take the role to lead the group by asking for their opinions and such. Contrastingly, if everyone seems to ooze with knowledge, then spice up the discussion by contributing more points and carefully manage the differences in input. Only then the team will come to a consensus. In case you have completed everything early, you probably will find it helpful if you occupy the remaining prep time with further discussion on possible questions that will be asked. As far as I can remember, the JPA officers didn’t go easy on us; they asked a lot of questions and even condemned our opinions when we were presenting just to see how far we could bend before breaking. Some of my teammates could not answer several questions posed, but luckily we had each others’ backs. Regardless, stand your ground and express your ideas clearly with supporting evidence. To the debaters out there, I’m pretty sure you would enjoy this round as much as I did because here’s when our defensive mode is automatically switched on.

Where at the first checkpoint we were assessed in groups, at the second the evaluation was more individual-based. Basically, all members in the group were assessed together in a room where everyone would have a go at the questions asked. However, the interviewers did not specifically mention which person they would like to hear from first, so it was all up to our prompt response to determine the turns. The first few questions they asked were our names, preferred courses together with our strengths and weaknesses. While it’s an easy task to brag about your positive traits, don’t forget to highlight on how these qualities can help you to propel yourself forward in your life, especially in the area you’re applying for. Instead of simply stating your weaknesses, remember to press on effort you’re currently putting in to fix them (just to tone down the said negative traits), and try to add the extent that your improvements have been successful. That’s one way to prove that you’re always open to beneficial changes and are willing to improve yourself in every aspect of life. At this stage, we were allowed to choose either to answer in English or Malay, whichever we were more comfortable with.

The interview questions revolved around government past and current policies plus our opinions on them, current global issues like refugees, brain drain, technology transfer, transnational corporations: basically anything debatable. From here, they would get a glimpse on the way we think, our personality and most importantly, if our traits and skills will be useful for them in the long run. So my advice for this section is to be extra careful on your choice of words: make sure they are not misleading but instead form sustained, coherent judgements. Keep in mind you’re applying for a government scholarship, so avoid any provocative remarks on their policies or decisions. However, do not spend too much time thinking to the extent that you look clueless about everything; even if you really have no idea on whatever they ask, try to extract some points from other applicants who have answered before you and elaborate them. Here hydration is not the key anymore, confidence is!

Overall, it was a fun experience. For my batch (SPM 2017), JPA also accepts applications for JKPJ Scholarship Programme (Program Khas Kejuruteraan Jepun, Korea, Perancis, Jerman) from those who have achieved all A+. I actually applied for both JKPJ and this PPN (Program Penajaan Nasional). Of course they were generous enough to send invitation for both programmes, but at the end they only offered me the PPN one even though I did not submit the PPN form on the day. It was odd actually, considering I always answered JKPJ as the programme I was applying for and never mentioned about applying for PPN throughout the interview, not even once. I suspect it had something to do with preferred language I chose in the individual assessment, as they already hinted their preference during briefing. It makes sense in a way, since all PPN scholars would eventually have to sit for IELTS before studying abroad meanwhile JKPJ scholars will take other languages proficiency assessments. Thus, if you’re aiming for either one of the programmes offered, it’s better if you just apply for the targeted programme.

On a different note, after receiving the offer you might want to consider several things before signing the agreement. One of them is the fact that JPA’s allowance is not that much compared to the amount provided by other agencies, which might be a huge problem unless your family/relatives can provide additional financial support. However, rest assured that they wouldn’t put too much pressure on you throughout your preparatory period in A-Levels as they’re pretty lenient about semester exam results and are always open for any proposed discussion. Those are crumbs of factors to be weighed up again.

I hope you will have an enjoyable time during the interview. Even if you are rejected, please think of all the new friends made, what the many new acquaintances including the evaluators impressed onto you, what new skills you’ve gained and what new observations you got out. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you will all try to find something positive from your participation. Whatever it is, all the best and good luck!

Tasha Aziera is currently a National Scholar under JPA. She is completing her A Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM and is hoping to further her studies in the UK, majoring in psychology. You can often catch her nibbling on a chocolate cookie browsing through Instagram or looking at pictures of corgis. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at


Wesleyan’s Freeman Asian Scholarship: More Than Just Full Tuition


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One of the most common questions I get in college is, “Why did you choose to come to Wesleyan?”

My short answer, which I say half-jokingly and half-seriously, tends to be: “They gave me a lot of money.”

I’ve been fortunate to have received the Freeman Asian Scholarship, a merit-based award valued at around USD 50,000. The bondless award, such that I don’t have to work for any particular organisation after graduating, covers my full tuition fees for all 4 years at this liberal arts college, not including food, accommodation, health insurance and pocket money.

There are a total of 11 scholarships available, which are awarded to one student from each of these countries: The People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. In short, there is only one scholarship up for grab in Malaysia.

Since financial aid was a priority in my college application, it made perfect sense to apply for this scholarship.

The Application

My application comprised of the Common Application, the Freeman Essay and the Financial Aid Application (which, unlike the Freeman Scholarship, is need-based and covers living expenses).

Since I’d already completed the Common Application, I only had to work on the Freeman Essay, whose prompt was: “Please tell us how you would use your Wesleyan education to make a contribution to your home country.” I wrote the first draft in the evening, on my bed (specifically before dinner) several days before the deadline, just to give myself time for editing and proofreading, which didn’t take up much time.

It was one of the easier essays to write because I’d already had a good idea about the academic opportunities in Wesleyan which piqued my interests, and how I could use what I learnt beyond the classroom. These were thoughts I’d flirted with during the frenzy that was the college application process, so it wasn’t too difficult to translate them onto paper.

Writing the essay came very naturally also because I wrote about debating, something I felt very strongly about. Having spent weeks thinking of potential ideas for strong college essays—for context, I applied to 6 other US colleges—I’d observed that superficial subjects with which I had no profound connection were harder to write about.

The Interview

There were two parts to the interview day, the individual interview and the information session.

Three alumni interviewed me. It was highly conversational, which is the case with many US college interviews. The alumni were interested in putting a personality to my application so they could make appropriate recommendations to the admissions office.

We spoke very casually about the opportunities at Wesleyan which attracted me, my academic interests and extracurricular involvements. My favourite part of the interview was talking about what I was reading at the time, The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuściński, short stories by Borges and The Land at the End of the World by António Lobo Antunes.

I’d been through interviews before (both for college and non-college purposes) so I had a sense of how things would play out. I was very calm before the interview. Ironically, since I was early, I checked out the exhibition of Australian universities which was held downstairs. I politely told the representatives I was not interested.

My parents accompanied me to the information session, which took place several hours after the individual interviews. Since it was rather informal, it was a great opportunity to chat with Wesleyan alumni and the seven other candidates who were shortlisted. During this time, we watched videos of Wesleyan alumni and faculty members talking about their Wesleyan experience. Little did I know that I’d eventually take an Economics class with one of the professors!

After the Q&A session with the alumni, I had a much rounder idea of Wesleyan and the Freeman community.

Receiving the Scholarship

It was 4.45 PM, I’d fallen asleep in the library and missed my bus home from school.

I called my mother to tell the bad news, and in turn, she told me the good news.

The Wesleyan community was very welcoming. Not long after accepting the award, I received emails and Facebook friend requests from upperclassmen and graduating students. Prior to attending college, I met with Wesleyan students and alumni, Freemans and non-Freemans. As I learnt more about Wesleyan, I was satisfied with the choice I’d made.

What’s nice about the Scholarship is the community you’ll be part of. The Freeman scholars are pretty tight—we plan and attend events together—but not limited to each other. The Freeman alumni come back every once in a while to meet up with current scholars. All in all, being on this Scholarship has made for a very rich college experience.

Amanda Yeoh is currently studying at Wesleyan University under the Freeman Asian Scholarship. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at



NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship


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What’s NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship?

It is a scholarship for NTU students that covers the tuition fees and allowance per academic year while your results will be assessed every semester to make sure scholars get at least 3.50 out of 5.00 of CAP (Cumulative Average Point). The scholarship works in this way: half of the tuition fees is subsidized through Tuition Grant and the scholarship will cover the rest. There is no bond to the scholarship whereas the tuition grant provided by Singapore government has 3 years bond with any Singapore registered companies. Do note that this scholarship does not cover your hostel fees, so you have to use the living allowance to pay for that.

Cool! How do I apply?

To apply for this scholarship, you would need to fill in a scholarship application form after submitting your application form to NTU. The form is used for application for other scholarships as well, such as CN Yang Scholarship, College Scholarship, Nanyang Scholarship and NTU Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship during my academic year, so it’s convenient for students to apply for multiple scholarships with just one application form. It requires students to fill in their past results, academic awards, extra-curricular activities and then write an essay not more than 300 words based on one topic chosen from 3 options.

So, what did you write about?

I chose the topic about the values and beliefs I hold strongly to. In my opinion, every essay that you need to write and submit before the interview is extremely crucial. This is the chance for you to express yourself truthfully while convincing the interviewers that you deserve to be awarded the scholarship. For my case, I wrote about the turning points in life that led me to my new beliefs. Students should look for something unique in themselves and write about it, instead of those same old stories about how determined or hardworking he or she is. Therefore, I would recommend people to try out new things and explore more, not only for the sake of applying scholarships but also for your personal development!

Ok! What’s after that?

If you are shortlisted for scholarship interview, NTU will notify you via email so keep an eye on that! NTU Scholarship Section of Financial Aid Office will come to Kuala Lumpur to interview all the applicants from Malaysia. If I am not mistaken, there is only one venue for the interview. My tips for the interview:

  1. Be prepared! Do your homework on the scholarships, the university, especially the courses you applied, and also some common interview questions. (Google! Google! Google!)
  2. Relax yourself by believing in yourself. Try not to compare with others, you must know that somebody will be better than you. That’s why you should focus on your unique personality.
  3. Be confident but not too arrogant. Avoid telling the interviewers that they will be living in remorse for the rest of their lives if they don’t offer you the scholarship.
  4. Be polite to the interviewers. Never forget to smile and thank them for their time in the end! First impression is extremely important.

During my interview, I talked about myself and shared my experience of backpacking in Bangkok. I related it to myself as that is my interest. After that, since I applied for Civil Engineering, they asked me a basic physics question of calculating force acting on a block on a slope. I saw a simple chemical equation on the back of the paper though. My friend who applied for Chemical Engineering was asked to differentiate methane and methene, and guess what – methene does not even exist! Then, they asked me about my favourite building in Singapore and what’s so special about it. Of course, you don’t have to answer the question like a professional; they are just testing your critical thinking skill.

Any last advice for future applicants?

Have faith in yourself and don’t stop believing!

The author, who wishes to be anonymised, is currently an undergraduate ASEAN scholarship holder at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

MyBrainSc Scholarship


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Editor’s Note: Please be advised the the renditions of the MyBrainSc Scholarship from 2016 and the foreseeable future no longer sponsor students to overseas institution. However, the basic principles behind the application process for the scholarship highlighted in this article still apply. 

Are you still scratching your head to look out more scholarships desperately on the Internet? Please take a serious glimpse of this article if you wish to know more regarding the details of this scholarship. MyBrainSc scholarship is offered by the Ministry of Education (MoE), and open to all Malaysians. This scholarship sponsors successful candidates financially to pursue both undergraduate and postgraduate studies (Bachelor Degree/Master/PhD level) in local and overseas universities. For your information, only four pure-science disciplines are sponsored by this scholarship- Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. If you wish to practise Chemical Engineering, Statistics, Forensic Science, Biomedical Science or Biotechnology, then you are barking up the wrong tree. Thus, I am writing this to share my experience and equip you with ample information so that you are not far from materialising your big dreams.

Stage One – Online Application

The online application is open from December to March. Make sure you always check out the website of Portal Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (KPM) during the period. You must meet the minimum requirements before applying for the scholarship. The documents required in the online application are softcopies of your original ICs, passport-sized photos, SPM transcripts, Matrikulasi/STPM/Asasi/IB/A-level/Diploma/SAT transcripts and university offer letters (if available).

Stage Two – Psychometric Test

In the mid of April, you will start receiving an e-mail which demands you to sit for a psychometric test. This test is implemented to evaluate your main interests in particular fields, ambitions, mentality, emotionality, hobbies, potential abilities and other psychological abilities. It is almost like the test we usually did in our secondary school to determine which field or job you were excellently cut out for. Compared to the previous years, the psychometric test has taken the place of an IQ test without doubt.

The test embodies two sections- Section A and B. Each candidate will be allocated roughly 120-180 minutes which are quite adequate for him or her to complete both sections separately. The questions are in Bahasa Melayu. Examples of the test are: “Adakah anda suka membaiki mesin dan motor?”, “Adakah anda suka mencatat, mengira, menulis dan membaca?” & “Anda dapat menerima nasihat orang lain dalam satu organisasi.” It consists of 300 questions and repetition of multiple questions occurs in the two sections. The answers are only “Yes” or “No”. The questions are not esoteric and you will be having plenty of time to complete them. I am sure you can answer the questions well as long as you possess a moderate command of Bahasa Melayu. Even so, please do not make light of this test because many candidates are eliminated from this stage either.

Stage Three – Interview

Eligible candidates will be notified of the interview through e-mails in due course. Interviewees need to attend the interviews in different states as to your respective residences. The wisest thing to do at this stage is searching for plenteous interview tips on the Internet, for example, blog spots of the scholars and interviewees, CollegeLah, ScholarStories, Lowyatnet and etc. The tips obtained are requisite in giving you an idea on how the interview is conducted and what kinds of questions will be asked during the interview.

Two candidates will be paired randomly in a group after the registration together with a panel of two interviewers. The interviewers are normally the professors or experts in the pure-science related fields. In my case, I was paired up with another guy who was doing his first-year Physics degree locally. Our interview took about 45 minutes and was fully conducted in English. We took turns at answering the same set of questions. You can round your points out to enable your ideas to be graspable even further. Moreover, keep up with current issues nationwide. I would suggest chatting with other candidates first before the interview helps to relieve your pent-up pressure and disquiet.

Speak confidently to voice your own opinions even though you are stammering sometimes throughout the interview. It is a no-brainer everyone is not like-minded in essence, thus, you must be level-headed by the time you encounter rebuttals from the interviewers. Take it as a piece of advice from them as it is just an exchange of opinions between both parties. Just be frank if you are ignorant of ideal answers to a question, it will not impinge on your overall performance. Also, try to engage them in a conversation with you as it can make you be yourself more and mitigate your apprehension.

I am listing out the following questions asked during my interview session:


  • Introduce yourself briefly.
  • What would you like to be besides becoming a lecturer?
  • Which department would like to join after your graduation? (Private, government or university)
  • Besides being a lecturer in university, what else do you think the lecturer should teach his students other than emphasising on the academics?
  • To study in England, what do you think you can do so that the foreigners will appreciate Malaysian students?   
  • If you get an awesome offer from the overseas company, would you like to work there or come back to Malaysia?
  • From all the activities you joined, what is the most valuable experience you have gained so far?
  • How would you promote patriotism?
  • What is your biggest strength and weakness?
  • How do you overcome the weakness?
  • Do you think you deserve this scholarship?
  • Current issues asked in my interview- GST&1MDB


Scholar’s Advice

I would like to highlight that the MoE is not going to help you in the university application. All procedures are kindly handled on your own. If you wish to study in the UK, all you need to do is apply for the universities through UCAS. Getting the admission of universities done before securing the scholarship is sparing with time and efforts. MyBrainSc Scholarship does sponsor students, too, to study in the US, Australia and Canada aside from the UK. The lists of universities recognized by MyBrainSc are available on Portal KPM.

Plus, you will need to come back and serve Malaysia for 5 years upon completion of your studies. The job prospects offered are becoming lecturers or researchers who will be affiliated with educational institutions and research centres in Malaysia. You should leap at this golden opportunity without scruples provided that you have an eye to Pure Sciences. The interview results shall be set forth approximately around the UPU results week.

Truth to tell, I have been harbouring a hope to study in England come what may. Finally, I have come across this scholarship which can bring my dream to pass and let me head for my dreamland, England. Perseverance is the key to achieving success and goals. To err is human. I do sail through trials and tribulations which have dampened my spirits. However, it takes courage and faith to begin the first step of everything you embark on. After going through a bad patch, you will see light at the end of the tunnel. Be a go-getter, and keep in mind that success does not come easy for any warrior. I truly hope that the information shared here will come in handy for you all in time to come.

Ka Chong

Ngui Ka Chong is a scholarship holder who will be pursuing his Biology degree in The University of Manchester under MyBrainSc Scholarship 2015. He loves making new friends everywhere, listening to music, reading novels and being a zealous writer. The motto of his life is “go confidently in the direction of dreams, live the life you have imagined.”

Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Programme


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First stage

It was like any other scholarship application process. You are required to fill in personal details and also write an essay about how will you contribute back to Malaysia in the future.

Second Stage

You will be informed to log on into a system and answer the questions given within the limited time frame as stated. It is very likely that you will not have enough time to recheck your answers as the time given to answer them is very short. In my opinion, these questions are similar to the questions of reading comprehension where you need to have critical thinking in analyzing the data provided in these questions.

Third Stage

I received an email from Khazanah at approximately 11.40pm (yes, Khazanah workers do work late) In the email, I was informed to attend the third stage interview at Corus hotel, Jalan Ampang. The traffic at Kuala Lumpur is very unpredictable at times so I decided to travel early! I like the view of the skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur as we do not really have such tall buildings with many storeys back in Seremban. I was a bit shocked because there were only 5 people including me when I reached Corus Hotel. After enquiring from the interviewers, they explained to us that they had separated many sessions for those that were selected where each session only consist a maximum of 6 people.

The interview consists of 3 parts, and it started with group discussion. Everyone was given 2 resumes and were required to discuss which person would be more suitable take up the position considering that the company has who to put in what position with company’s limited budget. It was less stressful as there were guidance such as data and instructions. The group discussion went on for 30 minutes with the Khazanah interviewers observing the progress of the discussion.

The next part was the case study personal presentation. We were given a case and were required to present individual presentation about launching a new phone. We need to analyse and decide the venue, time, types of advertisement and many more.  At this stage of the interview, everyone was guided as data and instructions were provided. After 30 minutes of preparation, we begun our 15 minutes presentation and ended with a question and answer session.

The last part was regarding a personal interview which I would personally advise those who will be interviewed to stay calm and be yourself. You need to be honest with everything you say or provide as it will not be surprised that these experienced interviewers will know whether or not you were lying. I would also advise to do simple preparation before coming for the interview. I prepared files containing my resume and certificates although it may not be used during the interview.

Fourth stage

I received another email a few days later, informing me to attend stage 4 interview at KLCC level 33. The relaxing room for the Khazanah workers was really very nice with yellowish lighting. Stage 4 was a personal interview with Yayasan Khazanah director Mr Kamarul Bahrein which lasted for 30 minutes. He asked me to introduce myself and some questions regarding my personal background, personal interest and also my curricular activities.

Fifth stage

After two weeks of waiting, I finally received an email from Khazanah. There are 14 of us that were fortunately selected into the final stage. I had fun chatting and getting to know them. The interview session was with the director of Khazanah and it only lasted for 5 to 10 minutes. It was considered a short and brief session.

This is the picture of me with YK director and managers during my pre-departure briefing 🙂

**All above are just my personal experience and it may be different for other candidates**


Belinda Lee

Belinda Lee Theng Lui had completed her matriculation at Kolej Matrikulasi Pulau Pinang(KMPP) last April. She is currently doing her bachelor of commerce at Australian National University under the Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Programme. She loves travelling whenever she can and enjoys cooking in the kitchen. ‘Do not confuse your path with your destination, just because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean you aren’t headed to sunshine’ is a quote she believes for a lifetime.


BNM Kijang Scholarship (January Intake)

Sasana Kijang

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Ever thought of acquiring a scholarship from the Central Bank of Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia (henceforth referred to as BNM), that not only covers pre-university education but extends to degree level as well?

Traditionally, BNM’s application only opens after the announcement of SPM results in the beginning of March. So it was as unexpected to me as to everyone else when we were informed that Bank Negara was offering the scholarship before SPM had even commenced. The selection process involved going through an interview process in December after our SPM ended in November with only our trial results.

As far as I know, this application could only be done through the school, and students who applied were mostly nominated by their teachers. Together with my other three peers, I applied for the scholarship using trial results and a compilation of certificates.

If you are aiming for the scholarships after SPM or other relevant qualifications, a piece of advice is to be actively involved in co-curricular activities that you enjoy and would potentially benefit you, alongside a good academic performance throughout your secondary education. Taking part in competitions, events, and sport tournaments, especially in your final years of secondary school, can set you apart from other applicants with your own unique talents and ‘flavour’.                                      

The notice that I was shortlisted for the interview came in early December, not long after SPM ended. Before the interview, we were required to do an online IQ assessment which consisted of these few sections:

1) Dimensions (Personality)

This assessment measures your behavioural preferences at work. It explores how you prefer to manage your relationships with others, your approach to tasks, and your sources of energy and motivation.

2) Elements (Verbal)

This assessment measures your analytical reasoning skills in relation to interpreting written information and reports.

3) Elements (Numerical)

This assessment measures your analytical reasoning skills in relation to using figures, data and statistics.

4) Elements (Logical)

This assessment measures your reasoning skills in relation to understanding and manipulating abstract or logical symbols.

In mid-December, I attended the interview along with two peers who were shortlisted. The interview process was largely similar to the usual interview process that commences every year in April-June after SPM results are released. We were provided accommodation in Lanai Kijang, BNM’s effectively private 5-star hotel, for three days and two nights (the duration of the interviews).

1st Day:

My first task was a half-hour essay which asked me about my thoughts and passion towards the course I chose, Law, and essentially, how I would contribute to the bank through my expertise in it. From my inference, this stage evaluates your thought process in structuring your essay and giving reasons that support your claim about your passion towards the course. Your aims in contributing to the bank should illustrate how you plan to apply and practise what you have gained from your degree in fulfilling the bank’s policies and aims when you serve your bond in the bank. My suggestion is to be realistic but optimistic when stating your views/ideas; don’t worry about using bombastic language that might sound overly flowery which you might use incorrectly in the end.

2nd Day:

The second stage was carried out in Sasana Kijang, BNM’s learning/research centre. We were divided into groups of 7 in which we worked throughout the day. The first few rounds were judged by three ‘facilitators’ who were also the assessors. The first round was an ice-breaking session that allowed me to know my teammates better, including their origin, course of choice etc. Speaking from experience, do grab the chance of this session to establish good rapport among yourselves and leave the assessors with a good first impression of yourself, especially when you work your way through dismantling the barriers among peers.

The following few rounds involved working as a team. One of them was a role play session when each of us was assigned a role in a company, whereby we were supposed to perform our respective expertise by drafting policies that were aimed to gain high profits for the company, and at the same time, increase welfare of the citizens. After completing the task within the stipulated time, I was bombarded with questions from the assessors who role-played as the board of directors about the drawbacks of the policies we had just drafted as a team. In the midst of convincing the BOD of your policies and defending your ideas, it is imperative that you are able to think critically while remaining calm and composed. Do bear in mind to show humility and respect to your teammates and assessors when expressing your views as the attitude you adopt in problem-solving and teamwork could be a deciding factor. Also make sure that you give adequate speaking opportunities to your teammates and always understand that your efforts should be collective and invariably for the greater good of the team as a whole. Remember that dominance does not equate to leadership.

The subsequent rounds comprised of competitions with other groups, judged by a larger number of assessors. Our first project was to design a theme park that could generate the highest revenue possible. If memory serves, one of the other winning criteria was best design. Like all the other rounds, it is important to choose a leader among yourselves who can lead the team to ensure efficiency and unity. As a leader, it is important that you embrace the opinions of your teammates before coming to a decision quickly. Go ahead and assume this responsibility if you are elected by your teammates who think that you possess these qualities. And if you are not the leader, fret not because it would not affect your chances of showcasing your abilities by contributing to the group as part of the team.

The next challenge was to build a boat that could support the most number of marbles without sinking into the water. The challenge in this project was not just deciding on the design of the body of the boat but also carefully planning our expenditure on the materials that could be optimally utilised to keep the boat afloat as we had to build the boat with minimal cost. We then made a presentation of our model by explaining the features of our boat and analysing on how well it worked.

3rd Day:

We had to do an individual presentation of a topic assigned to us. My topic was regarding how we can encourage children in Malaysia to think about personal finance and managing their money wisely. Firstly, we were given some time to illustrate and write the content of our presentation on a few pieces of mahjong paper. We then had to present it to a new set of assessors individually. Likewise, the assessors questioned us thoroughly about the content we were presenting about and expected to see a positive and spontaneous response. STAY CALM because candidates usually panic when they face the assessors alone. Ideally, by the third day you should be rather “experienced” in performing under pressure without being hindered by anxiety. Give it your best shot!

Through this stage, the interviewers generally want to know about what you have gained from previous stages, the reason of you choosing the course, and how suited are you for the scholarship and working in the bank. They expect honest and well-explained answers from you, so just be yourself when doing that.

The entire interview experience was enriching and definitely something worth a try. This exposure to an intensive interview process enabled me to pick up essential interview skills and know what qualities are expected of me in interviews. Making preparations before the interview is advisable, in the sense that you read up on the philosophy of their function as the Central Bank and also think of the reasons why you have chosen the course. This does not mean that you memorise scripts before the interview because this tactic would not work most of the time. It may cause you to be too rigid in making spontaneous response when you are being interviewed.   

After being awarded the scholarship, I joined the January intake at Kolej Tuanku Jaafar, doing an 18-month A-levels course. It is a great college to be in and I am extremely grateful to the bank for granting me this opportunity. Although being a January intake student for A-levels is a challenging task, it is a fun experience and I am enjoying the time I am having now. As there are expectations to be met as a Bank scholar, my advice is to appreciate your time when doing your A-levels and this effort will definitely pay off and bear fruits of success. As a matter of fact, Bank scholars are required to gain entry into the top-notch universities Bank Negara lists out. Hence, be wise when selecting your priorities and do not waver in your determination of achieving what you have set out for. Make the journey worth it at the end of the day as you have attained what could be a dream every student would have – a free education in a prestigious university abroad.

I hope this article is useful in giving you inspirations and insights into attending a scholarship interview be it in Bank Negara or other scholarship avenues. “STUDY SMART and PLAY HARD”- a meaningful catch phrase from high school.




Si Qi Chung is currently doing A-Levels in Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar as a January intake and will hopefully read Law in the United Kingdom. She is a curious and eager learner and will pursue what she finds interesting. This aspiring lawyer is also a great watercolour painter who has won numerous awards.


Maxis Scholarship


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1. How many stages were there in your scholarship assessment?

2 stages.  Before that, I submitted an online application. In the online application, I had to write about my ambitions and also there was a separate part called the Statement of Purpose which required me to describe my career aspirations and personal attributes that would help me in achieving my ambitions.

2. What happened during your scholarship assessment?

The first stage was an informal interview. I was interviewed by two HR staff. They asked about my family background, my education experience, my personality, my aspirations etc. The two interviewers were very friendly. I felt very comfortable in that interview as it was more like chat than an interview. The interview lasted no more than 30 minutes.

The second stage was held in a boardroom where there was a panel of interviewers, including the chairman of Maxis, two professors from reputable universities, the Head of HR of Maxis and a secretary. They all held a binded copy of my portfolio/application form while interviewing me. The approximately 45-minutes interview was conducted in a more serious tone with some questions about my dreams and aspirations, why I chose to study at the university of my choice (University of Warwick), what I hope to do in the future, how would the Maxis scholarship help me (in terms of a merit-based scholarship) etc.

There was also a question asked in Bahasa Malaysia where I had to explain what TEDxKL was about, in Bahasa Malaysia.

Before I got called into the boardroom, I was waiting in another boardroom room with other interviewees. I noticed the room had a lot of cameras around, including a big conference TV. Although I was the last one to enter and exit the boardroom, I met 4 other interviewees in the room. If I remember correctly, I was waiting for over an hour in that boardroom. Naturally, I just started talking and got to know the other interviewees. Only towards the end when there were only two of us in the room (another guy and myself), I noticed the cameras. I was not sure if they were watching us but among the interviewees I met in the room, only the other guy and myself got the scholarships. I would say we were quite chatty in the room…

3. What do you think you did right to get the scholarship?

I would say my personality and my aspirations to get into education sector. It was pointed out by the panel of interviewers that it isn’t a common dream/profession – perhaps it was what that stood out in my application.

4. What are some of the past experiences that the reviewers were most interested about?

My interest in Teach For Malaysia, as a link to my future aspirations and how it was partly my interest to get involved in the education sector; and my role in TEDxKL, which was a reason why I wanted to attend the University of Warwick as I was hoping to get involved with TEDxWarwick too.

5. What advice would you give to future Maxis Scholarship applicants?

Be calm and answer everything truthfully. Try your best to apply early so that you don’t rush through your application.

It was honestly the most enjoyable interview experience I have ever gone through.

6.How did you prepare for the scholarship application?

I didn’t prepare myself with questions but only spoke to my friends and family about things that piqued my interest and attention constantly – without realising it was indirectly becoming an aspiration of mine.

Definitely invest in a good suit to look professional (I always say this and I do believe it does make a difference in your interviews), get a good night’s rest, and don’t be late for your interview!

imageedit_4_3257515162 Yin Li Toh is a second-year Economics student at the University of Warwick under the Maxis Scholarship for Excellence Award. She loves travelling whenever she can and enjoys trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Yayasan UEM Overseas Scholarship

I am a Yayasan UEM scholar, currently studying A levels in Kolej Yayasan UEM and will be sponsored for my Undergraduate studies as well. This scholarship covers tuition fees, a laptop, accommodation and adequate living allowances. There are three stages in in Yayasan UEM Scholarship assessment.

Online application – 2000 applicants

This is just the usual application form that you need to fill in for any other scholarship application. Of course, your academic results and past experiences do make an impression at this stage. You will also need to submit two essays ( a short paragraph) here. The first one is about your interests and career plan in the subject you will be pursuing. Try to show your passion and enthusiasm in your subject and be certain about what are you going to do in your future. Since I was applying for civil engineering, I talked about my concern in sustainable development and aspire to study overseas to bring advanced technology back to Malaysia. The second one is the reason you think you deserve this scholarship. You might have to present yourself as a mature and confident all-rounder yet humble and willing to serve.

First stage – 200 candidates

UEM is a very caring company because they normally contact you through phone calls in addition to emails. After being informed about the first stage interview, I quickly did some background research about the company and some popular questions ask in interviews, this is where Mr Google and all these student aids websites come in handy.

We were first asked to write an essay within 20 minutes. The titles vary for each candidate; mine was “How to maintain the discipline in school”. Some others’ were about sports, education etc.

The following session is a personal interview. It is basically a get-to-know session where you talk about yourself. It is important to carry yourself well in this session as the first impression matters the most. Do not forget the basic courtesy such as knocking the door, greetings and smiles. My early preparation helped me with most of the session as the questions asked were the general and typical ones. The panel were very friendly and the conversation was very comfortable to me.

Here is a list of questions I was asked:

  •         Tell me about your family background and accomplishments.
  •         What inspire you in pursuing your course? (similar to the one in online application)
  •         What you did in the few months after SPM?

-I attended the three month national service and talked about the experience from it. I also took a part time job as a waitress in a local restaurant.

  •         What are your biggest strength and weakness?
  •         What are your hobbies and other interests?
  •         What are the current issues that you concern about?

You are also encouraged to ask questions at the end of the session if you have any doubts on the scholarship.

Second Stage – 50 candidates

All the candidates were divided into groups in the second stage for activities the whole day. The first game was “Name the Sports”, which we were required to act out the sports given so that others may guess. It was just an ice-breaking activity but you will still need to try stand out among other candidates. Note: the whole assessment is video-recorded for evaluation.

The second part of the assessment is group discussion. We were required to present a commercial plan for a product including marketing strategy, packaging and TV advertisement in a few hours time. You will need to show your leadership skill among the group members at the same time be cooperative with one another. Partake in the discussion and give constructive ideas at the same time value others’ opinion. Make sure everyone is involved in the presentation and utilise your own slot to present your strengths. Everyone else in the room was very bright as they were all shortlisted after several rounds of evaluation too, but do not lose your confident and just try your best. You will not even have a chance if you do not try.

Third stage – 50 candidates

During my time, all who advanced to the second stage will be progressed straight to the third stage. It was another personal interview at this time, but with the Yayasan UEM CEO and one of the directors of UEM. This session was video-recorded as well.  It was similar to the first stage as this would be the first time for the CEO meeting us. However, I faced a little difficulty when I was asked about the collapse of factory in Bangladesh a couple years back. I was not aware of that news at that time and could not answer their questions. I told them honestly, apologized and promised that I would try to keep up with the news and be more aware of what’s happening around. I actually thought that I performed badly in that interview and was very surprised when I was informed that I was offered the scholarship. Later on I found out that all the other successful scholars all thought their interviews were bad too. We made a conclusion that the panel are actually looking at how we react when we face problems that we are uncertain of. Perhaps they understand that everyone has flaws and weaknesses and the most important part is to be able to identify it and improve.

I could not be more grateful being one of the seven Yayasan UEM scholars in my batch. This is the only scholarship I applied to other than JPA Engineering Programme and it was a very competitive one as well so it was really a blessing to me. All my scholarmates have different qualities; some are very mature and outspoken, some have very deep insight to the surrounding. For me,  I believe my excellent SPM result was a big bonus in the selection. However, I believe Yayasan UEM is looking for varies qualities so do not worry if you are different from others. That will be all from me. Good luck and all the best!


Fiona Tan is a blessed girl who will is currently studying A levels under Yayasan UEM Oversea Scholarship Programme. Not knowing where she might be ended up in, she believes God has the best plan for her.

Petronas Scholarship


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Overview of PESP

PETRONAS offers two types of education sponsorships to Malaysia’s most outstanding students in the oil-and-gas-related field. The first type covers from pre-university programme up to undergraduate studies, and the second covers undergraduate studies only. These sponsorships are known as the PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Programme  (PESP). They are open for undergraduate programmes at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) and also overseas universities. Students are allowed to choose from the list of technical and non-technical sponsored programmes to pursue in the future.

Stages involved in the scholarship application

  1. Complete an application form and submit it along with your SPM and A-Levels results and your parents’ income statements.
  2. Eligible candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed.
  3. There will be two interview stages in a day. The first one will be conducted individually and the second one will be a group interview.
    • Candidates will be grouped into teams of four or five and each team will be given a case study on different topics about the current issues happening in the world. Each candidate will be required to discuss the issue given and to solve it using different approaches stated in the papers given.
    • During the individual interview, candidates will not be asked typical questions about themselves or the company. Instead, they will be questioned about the case study.
    • After the individual interviews, all the candidates from each team will be asked to enter the room again to undergo the group interview. During the group interview, the groups are supposed to discuss among themselves and come to a conclusion as to which approach is the best to resolve the issue. The interviewers will stay quiet and observe each candidate during that period.

Atmosphere at the interview

The interviewers were really nice and friendly but also serious at the same time, especially during the first individual interview when they questioned me about the case study. There was a bit of tension as well, as you will not be able to predict what kind of questions they will ask and you will not know if the interviewers agree with what you said. However, the overall atmosphere was fine as long as you feel (or look) confident!


There is not much you could prepare for prior to the interviews besides knowing the current happenings in the world by reading more news. This is to prepare yourself for tackling the interview questions (case study). It is advisable to include any current news or latest happenings when presenting your ideas to the interviewers, e.g. I have included Soup Kitchen as a volunteering activity, which was a hot topic during that period of time and the interviewers were interested in that topic too. Besides, you should speak up and be an outstanding candidate during the group interview instead of just sitting there and listening to your other team members. However, you should also show that you are capable of being a leader by starting the conversation in the group interview when nobody else does so. Also, try to ask for the opinions of your other team members by saying, “What do you think of this idea?” etc. Last but not least, just be yourself, be confident, stay calm and may the odds be ever in your favour!

imageedit_6_7636355232Joey Chin is currently pursuing Economics at University College London (UCL) under the PETRONAS Scholarship. She manages her time well between studies and leisure because having a balanced lifestyle is crucial to her, as the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” But of course, she knows her priorities well!

Bank Negara Kijang Emas Scholarship

Alicia Kijang Emas

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Hello everyone! I’m Alicia, currently reading Law in the University of Cambridge. I was the first undergraduate student to receive the Kijang Emas scholarship from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), and I’ll be sharing my experiences with you today.

First, a little bit about BNM and the scholarship itself! It’s the Malaysian central bank, and is dedicated to promoting sustainable growth in Malaysia. They strongly believe in developing human capital, and BNM’s Scholarship Programme aims at nurturing young talent. I was blessed enough to receive the Kijang Emas scholarship, which is a full scholarship. Students who are awarded this particular scholarship are not bonded to BNM, and are called to contribute back to Malaysia instead. Post-SPM students who receive this also have the option to select any course in any top university. BNM also offers their scholars the opportunity to participate in internships, usually during the summer. The details of the internships depend on the particular department, but all offer great opportunities to learn.

Securing the scholarship

My application experience was a little different, as I originally applied for the normal undergraduate scholarship, but was subsequently awarded the Kijang Emas scholarship. So, I will focus instead on the general content rather than the format of my assessment. If you would like to read about the usual procedures, you can read some of the other articles on CollegeLAH by BNM scholars.

During my interview, I was generally asked about my interest in my course (Law), and how I plan to cope with studying in the United Kingdom. At this stage, it is crucial to demonstrate a keep interest in your subject, as they want students who are passionate and who really love their subject.

Among the interesting questions I was asked was whether I think it is true that some people are simply born smarter than others. My response was that we can’t control the circumstances that we are born into. Some may come into families that are better suited to expose them to the world at an early age, thus making them “smarter,” but it is up to us to make the best of what we are given.

I was also asked questions like how I handle criticism. To this, I responded that I view it objectively, and absolutely welcome it if it comes with good reason. I related this to my homework (my A Level subjects were very essay-based) to say how I use criticism to improve the quality of my work.

Intellectually, if you are still studying when you apply, you should definitely pay extra attention to your revision, and think not just about how to score in the exam, but the additional skills they provide you with as a whole (Literature, for example, hones in on analytical skills). They may very well ask what your favorite subject in college (or secondary school) is, and you should be prepared to answer this question. Read through any essays you may have submitted with your application, and reflect on some of your major extra-curricular activities, determining what qualities you have gained from them. For example, how has participating in debate helped you grow? Is it relevant to your chosen course? Has it made your more eloquent and confident? Try to put a value to everything (relevant!) that you have done, and don’t just state the obvious.

In terms of your state of mind, try not to think too much. Whilst you definitely should prepare as much as you can, don’t stress yourself out. There is only so much that you can do, and they won’t expect you to know everything anyway. Remember that there is such a thing as over-preparing! Whilst you should have the general gist of your points, don’t memorise and reproduce your answers – be as natural as you can, and show your sincerity. Once your application process is over, put it aside, and focus on what you have at hand. Don’t agonise over any mistakes you may have made (unless you know how you can improve and still have upcoming assessments). Last but certainly not least, pray very hard, and leave the rest to God!

Applying for this scholarship and receiving it has definitely affected me greatly. The application process itself taught me a lot, and I value what I learned from my interview panel during the time I spent with them too. I also got to make friends with my fellow applicants, who are all brilliant in their own right, and I hope we get to meet again in the future.

Receiving the Kijang Emas scholarship has opened my eyes to see that it is possible, and that working hard really does pay off. It has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

Alicia Loh

Alicia Loh is a Bank Negara Kijang Emas scholar who will be reading Law in the University of Cambridge. She gives all glory to God. She can usually be found with a book and lots of pink, and blogs at, where she writes important things about life (such as her furry baby’s first time walking on grass). She also has an online shop called Openquote Designs selling printables.