FELDA Global Scholarship

adv 2014

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There were 2 stages in the Biasiswa FELDA Global application process.

1st Stage – Written Test

The first stage was held a few weeks after submitting the application. There were many of us – around 50 candidates. Thus, it was very challenging as there were too many competitors.

There were a few sections in the test. The English test tested the candidates’ listening skills. There was also a knowledge test where we were asked to write essays of 1500 words and above about FELDA programs for young generations and our suggestions on what to do to help the future generations.

2nd Stage – Interview

After shortlisting the candidates, only 15 of us made it through to the 2nd stage. For this stage, we had to demonstrate our speaking skills as well as our personality to be accepted for the scholarship.

The interviewers asked us about our family backgrounds and how we could contribute to the country, especially to FELDA once we return from tertiary studies. I was also required to give my opinions about Malaysia during the period of time and about the Malaysian education system. Plus, they asked me about FELDA’s program for younger generations.

It was very challenging because we had to face the Chairman of FELDA with his other assistants and the result was up to the 7 interviewers in the room. The feeling was beyond explanation – sometimes nervous, sometimes excited.

There were some criteria that I had fulfilled to be awarded the scholarship. Firstly, my exam results helped. Secondly, my extra-curricular activities. Although I did not join many activities, I had high achievements in one particular activity. They also looked forward to my participation in FELDA Programs for the younger generations.

To prospective Biasiswa FELDA Global applicants, I would advise them to:

  1. Get the best results possible in SPM (of course),
  2. Be active in school activities (you do not need to join many clubs, instead be active in the club that interest you the most),
  3. Get some basic knowledge about what FELDA is all about, including their programs and achievements. You may gather a lot of information from FELDA’s official  website, or receive monthly FELDA news in Utusan Malaysia where you will learn about the activities held by FELDA,
  4. Be mentally and physically prepared for the interview and test,
  5. Portray a great personality to impress the interviewers.


Mohamad Hafiz is a FELDA scholar who had just completed his American Credit Transfer Program at INTEC last June. He pursues his study in Mechanical Engineering at State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time – Thomas A. Edison.

Bank Negara Kijang Scholarship


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What is the Kijang Scholarship?

The Kijang Scholarship is one of the two overseas scholarships offered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) (also known as the Central Bank of Malaysia) aimed towards SPM graduates, making it one of the many generous institutions that offer scholarships at this level. Applicants are able to request to be sponsored to study at the UK, USA or Australia at university level to read one of a certain few disciplines – Economics, Actuarial Science, Law, Accounting & Finance and Mathematics. These specific subjects are chosen because BNM is a Central Bank, thereby requiring its human capital to be proficient in these fields in order to regulate the economy effectively.

What is the difference between Kijang and Kijang Emas?

While this article will be on the Kijang Scholarship predominantly, some obvious differences between Kijang Emas and Kijang will be made clear here. In terms of grade requirements, Kijang Emas is exclusively for straight A+ students while 8A/A+ is the requirement for Kijang. The difference in criterion stems from the terms of the scholarships themselves. While the Kijang Scholarship limits itself to the 3 countries and 5 disciplines mentioned earlier, Kijang Emas permits its holders to pursue any discipline in any country. However, applying to Kijang Emas doesn’t guarantee you assessment for the Kijang Emas; if BNM thinks that your application is more suitable for Kijang, you may be shifted. In contrast, I have never heard of the opposite happening thus far.

Is there a bond that comes with the scholarship?

There is a service bond for holders of the Kijang Scholarship – 2 years of work with BNM for every year of sponsorship. This means that getting sponsored for 2 years of A-level plus 3 years in the UK means 10 years of bond. The plus point is that you get job security in a Central Bank. This is, I believe, explicitly stated in the BNM scholarship webpage. In comparison to other scholarship bodies in the financial or governance sector e.g. Maybank, Sime Darby and JPA which all have bonds of between 4-5 years, Kijang Holders have to serve a far longer bond period. Kijang Emas scholarship recipients, however, are not bonded to BNM, though they are called to contribute to Malaysia, also for double the period of the sponsorship.

How is the assessment process?

There are two major stages in which your suitability for the scholarship is assessed.

The first, of course, is the online application. Right when SPM results are released i.e. early March, the BNM website will commence its scholarship applications, of which links can be found on their website. It is imperative that you do not apply to the wrong scholarship given that there are scholarships for undergraduate level and beyond as well, in which you may have proven your lack of competence if you do so. The online application is relatively simple: just key in whichever details they ask for e.g. personal details, SPM grades, co-curricular achievements etc. I have heard that applicants have to write short timed essay at this stage (I did not have to in 2013, but heard that 2014 applicants had to). Whether it is true or not, if you truly know what you want to apply for and why, plus if you are a competent student, you will fare well.

Your co-curricular achievements will definitely help in making you stand out from the myriad of applicants, all of whom have stellar grades. Perhaps by coincidence, but a significant portion of people that make the cut all the way until the end and eventually attain the scholarship itself, are debaters. A more intuitive observation was that people who get shortlisted have at least national-level achievements. I, for one, had an international-level achievement, about two national-level achievements, amidst several state and district-level achievements plus 8A+, 1A in SPM. It is imperative that you excel in co-curricular activities while in secondary school rather than going full bookworm. If you haven’t, you are probably not going to make it, unless your application seems strong even without it.

If you are one of the lucky ones amidst a huge pool of competent applicants all across Malaysia, your second stage would be the 3 day 2 night Kijang Academy which will be held at Lanai Kijang and Sasana Kijang. I have no way of assuring that this will be the length of the Academy at the time this article is read. It is usually at this stage where people realise how sophisticated the Central Bank can be. You will be staying at Lanai Kijang, their residential building while a majority of your assessment will be in Sasana Kijang, the futurist glass building equipped with cutting edge technological gadgets and a huge library. There will be good food for the famished.

So what is this Kijang Academy?

If you have hundreds of equally competent applicants on paper, how do you choose a handful of scholars? The solution would be the usual – interviews, group tasks etc. This is where Kijang Academy occurs. However, the Kijang Academy is designed in such a way that it is impossible to fake it through. Who and what qualities they are looking for are never known explicitly. So my advice at this stage for you prospective applicants would be to be yourself at your best and be a humble person.

Stage 1

The first stage during my year was an essay on the first night of our stay. Questions were generally personal i.e. your qualities, studying attitudes etc. My inference was that this task aims at showcasing your thought process, reasoning, structure and effective communication. It is imperative that one writes concisely; verbosity hinders communication. They want to know more about you rather than to see you show off your flowery, bombastic and glorious language mastery.

For my case, it was done in a relatively short period of time (not exactly short if you reflect on it after a year of A level) in a ballroom sort of hall.

Stage 2

The second stage begins on the following day in Sasana Kijang. Do note that this may be drastically different by the time you are reading this article as scholarship assessment methods change over time at their discretion. This stage consists of several group-based assessments – interviews and tasks. You will be put into groups of approximately 10.

The first portion of the group stage was intuitively an ice-breaking session. I was required to introduce another member of the group while she did the same for me. The setting was designed to make everyone less stressful or tense and know each other more for the remaining of the group stages. So for strategic purposes, get to know everyone in your group well; perhaps knowing their strengths will do.

The second portion of the group stage, if my memory doesn’t fail me or if nothing changes, was an interview done under the disguise of a series of role-play tasks. We were supposed to give talk shows presuming that we are experts of our desired fields of studies. By desired, I mean the disciplines you applied through the system. Essentially, it means that they want to know even more about why you applied for your desired subject of choice under a less pressured situation.

The third portion of the group stage was a obligatory group task as per what other scholarship bodies also do – a group presentation based on a business problem i.e. to come up with a solution for a situation portrayed within 30 minutes of discussion/preparation within your group. The presentation would last approximately 10-15 minutes in extension to Q&A by the assessors. Fret not about your knowledge in business jargons as the questions are designed to be fair to everyone regardless of pre-existing knowledge on business. It aims at exposing how you function as part of a team. Keep in mind that this is not a game for dominance by anyone; your purpose is to contribute towards a working solution as a team. If you, in any way, decide that being “shiok sendiri”, shutting out others or being a dictatorial leader is a good way of working as a team, all the best!

The fourth and final portion of the group stage was a creative group work, in which most will find this part the most memorable, enjoyable and stress-free. You will be using limited resources e.g. limited amount of papers, tapes and sticks to build something within an hour. We were tasked with building a tower. Creativity counts here as well; hence, artistic members of the group will be of great use here. With the creativity cap removed, my group produced a futurist twin tower ultrapolis. My advice for this part is the same as the previous paragraph: you are part of a team striving for a creative solution, so do your part and contribute effectively.

The Break Announcement

At the beginning of the Kijang Academy up until now, there will be about a hundred of applicants per batch. Intuitively, they are not going to interview everyone personally if they can cut down some by this stage, which is exactly what happens. The assessors will be able to identify who may secure the scholarship and who definitely won’t by the end of the group assessments. Only those who may secure the scholarship by the judgment of the second stage stay onto the next stage – the individual interview and presentation. The announcement is done differently in my year than in the following year. However, the main characteristics stay – a list of students will be announced and be told elsewhere that they have been dropped out of the selection process. Either that or those who make the break will be told elsewhere.

Stage 3

The final stage of assessment consists of two parts – the individual presentation and the interview. By this stage, approximately half of the applicants would have been dropped out, leaving every group with on average 4-6 members. There doesn’t seem to be any quotas of participants making it to this stage as some teams have significantly more or less members at this stage.

The first portion of the final stage begins such that you are given 15 minutes to prepare a presentation based on one of the questions from a list. There are general questions similar to SPM-level questions and more external knowledge-based questions. Most interviewees went for the general questions. Do note that while all of the applicants prepare together, not everyone gets interviewed immediately after. This does not mean that you are allowed to make edits after 15 minutes of preparation to your flipchart. When it is your turn, you will be asked to present whatever you have for about 10 minutes plus 5 minutes of Q&A session by the assessors. Effective communication, reasoning and making sense is still the key here.

The second and ultimate portion is of course the interview itself, which may be rather lengthy. Mine, for one, lasted almost about an hour. In practice, your interviewers want to know more about what they have learned about you in the previous stages e.g. why your chosen course, why Bank Negara and of course, showcasing through your ECAs/school life why you are suitable for the scholarship or even working in Bank Negara as a whole. Essentially, they want to be sure that you are suitable for the scholarship. There is no point awarding a scholarship to a student who won’t fit into working at Bank Negara. The criteria of assessment remain difficult to decipher, my advice remains the same – be yourself at your best.

What happens after Kijang Academy?

This is arguably even more stressful than the assessment itself if you make it thus far. You have to wait for almost 3-4 weeks before you get the decision from BNM. There is only so much you can do at this stage, go on with interviews from other scholarship bodies, continue college education or get on with life as usual. If you are awarded the scholarship, you will receive a phone call from BNM telling you the discipline you are sponsored to pursue; you will also be told of the country in which your undergraduate studies will take place, hopefully. There are people who do not attain their first choice, presumably that the assessors think that their second choice suits them more. By words, you can decide to either accept or reject the scholarship through phone.

There will be a day dedicated to briefing you and your parents about the scholarship terms and preparatory colleges (KTJ, KYUEM or Taylor’s), probably about a week after you get the call from BNM. On this day, you will be briefed on the scholarship contract just like how legal firms and banks normally would.   Make sure that you get as much clarifications as you can on the terms; your following 1 or 2 years in the prep colleges will be directly affected by them. After which KTJ, KYUEM and Taylor’s will brief you on their schools/colleges.

What to do after being awarded the scholarship?

If you are awarded the scholarship, it means you have attained a privilege to have free overseas education, arguably a dream everyone would have. Don’t let it go to waste. Keep in mind that attaining the scholarship is just a stage but retaining the scholarship is another. The universities which you are allowed to apply to are extremely competitive ones, which is rather intuitive because who would want to sponsor stellar students to average overseas universities on par with local universities. This means that you will have to study even harder to get your places in the overseas universities. In your preparatory colleges/schools, life will be even more hectic than in secondary school with more academic content and co-curricular activities. My ultimate advice would be to prioritise smartly; the Bank sent you to whichever place you end up in to study, not to flunk your grades because of anything.

imageedit_4_4122498761Suah Jing Lian is currently a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholar who’s pursuing his A-level at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar and hopefully Economics in the UK. He has a penchant for Baroque music, particularly Bach’s partitas, and debating, which he claims provides sparks to his life. People claim that he looks and speaks in an intimidating way but not really, he’s one of the most eccentric people you will ever meet.

JPA Program Khas Korea, Jepun, Perancis, Jerman


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After submitting my application online, I was called for a one-day assessment in 2012 where we had a group interview and two group discussions.

The group interview focused on questions related to policies implemented by the government, such as the Government Transformation Program (GTP) and Economic Transformation Program (ETP). Even if you are not sure about the answer, give it a try instead of being silent as they would want to access your ability to communicate effectively.

Both of the group discussions were conducted in the same way but in different languages – Malay and English.  In my Malay group discussion, we were shown a picture which was about “Isu pembuangan kanak-kanak”.  We had to discuss among ourselves, note down the points on a piece of Mahjong paper and present it to the interviewers.

In the English session, we were shown a picture of P.Ramlee and the questions were regarding how P. Ramlee could improve the sense of belonging among youth in the country.  It was very tough and we ran out of points.  Most of us were talking about something else out of the topic but I guess they also judged us based on our ability to talk  instead of the content itself. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas during the group discussions as we were evaluated while we were working in the groups.

I think your performance during the interview is more important than your past achievements.  Of course having good results and a good curriculum vitae will be an added advantage if they are distinguishing between two students with equal performance during the interview.

I would advise SPM students to put in more effort in their studies (you need six A+ and above for the Korea and Japan program and 8A+ and above for the France and Germany program).  They would also request for photocopies of certificates of all the activities that you have participated in. You should also have the mental preparation to learn a whole new language that will be your medium of instruction in your university. Last but not least, learn more about the current policies implemented by the government.

imageedit_4_5455558426Robert Tieng Shiaw Wee will be pursuing Chemical Engineering in the University of Manchester under the JPA Scholarship although he was also offered the JPA Program Khas Korea Scholarship in 2012. He is a crazy badminton fan and has treated badminton as part of his life, trying to imitate the superb skills from the videos watched but still his skill is just so so. Being born to be a shy person, he may require some time to befriend with strangers and eventually becoming buddies!


JPA Ivy League Dan Setara Scholarship 2013 – A Memoir.

One of the requirements of this JPA scholarship

One of the requirements of this JPA scholarship

My name is Victor Tan. I’m a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago and a current holder of the JPA Ivy League dan Setara Scholarship. When I got into UChicago, I was absolutely ecstatic, yet I was shipwrecked in denial – I wasn’t sure if I could afford more than three years in the States without my family having to sell a house; but at the same time, I wasn’t keen on working at Bank Negara or Sime Darby for the better part of my youth…

Hence, I applied for the JPA Ivy League dan Setara scholarship. 6-year bond. Only applicants who have gained admission (read: unconditional offer) to one of the universities in the Times Top Universities Rankings need apply. The only stipulation was that I had to return to Malaysia to find a job in a private corporation for 6 years: Since most people who study in the States do return to Malaysia, I was totally okay with that! One online application and three stages of interviews later, I received word in November of 2013 that the JPA overlords had decided to award the scholarship to lil’ old me.

With that in mind, this is a memoir of my process of applying for the scholarship and being assessed, inclusive of the interview process, as well as some advice for prospective applicants. If you’re interested in applying for the scholarship and you eventually do, I hope that it helps some of you go through the rollercoaster of happiness and awesome emotions that I went through on the day I received the scholarship!

Anyway, down to the application process!

The application process.

So the whole thing took about five months from start to finish. As I mentioned, there is an online application. During my time, the online application was only open for a week, so keep your eyes peeled to make sure that you don’t miss the deadline! In the online application, you fill in the university that you’ve received an unconditional offer from and submit your pre-university results. During my year, you didn’t have to attach scanned copies of your results and conditional offers, but you had to bring these documents to the JPA office on the actual day of your interview, and I think that this has changed ever since. What remains the same, however, is the fact that if you do not have an offer from one of those universities, you are not eligible to apply. JPA happened to look favourably upon me, so they called me for an interview at the JPA Putrajaya office.

When I reached the JPA office, I saw about 80 different people dressed in varying degrees of business casual/formal, and I was pretty worried that there would be lots of competition: It was then and there that I silently cursed myself for applying for only one scholarship, but I also silently thought to myself that I had done well to reach this stage, and decided to make the best of it. Later though, I found out that everyone was scared too, so I guess it kind of evened out (because I’m inclined to schadenfreude like that :P).

During the first part of the morning, we handed in all the documents that JPA had asked us to furnish on the day itself, including the unconditional offer letters that we had obtained, and our academic results for both pre-U and our SPM/IGCSE equivalents alike. Subsequently, we were separated into groups of three people – My group was composed of an old acquaintance whom I had met at a competition a year ago, in addition to this Malaysian girl who claimed that she was going to Stanford. I say ‘claim’, and I will elaborate on this at some later point during this piece. The three of us were made to go through three stages of interviews, conducted in Malay and English alike, and I’m guessing that you guys are dying to learn about how they worked out.

Without further ado…

The first stage!

The first stage of my interview was conducted entirely in Malay by two JPA officers in one of the JPA conference rooms. Pretty depressing atmosphere – It looked like a university lecture hall, and there were actually chalkboards where we could write down our ideas. We were given a case study that was written entirely in Malay, which was basically a newspaper article about haze in Malaysia. The three of us were tasked with outlining the nature of the issue, several possible solutions, as well as some considerations to take into mind with the stakeholders.

We were given about twenty minutes to discuss our response to the prompt … in Malay, while being observed by people who had spoken Malay for their entire lives, so that was mildly intimidating! The issue for most of the people who were applying for the scholarship at this point in time was that they were first and second year university students years removed from the Malaysian education system. As a result, most of them couldn’t speak Malay very well and thus struggled during this interview. I was very prepared, though, so I went into the discussion with a pretty open mind, wrote a couple of points down, and discussed a few others with my peers during the discussion.

During the discussion, however, whatever trepidation that I had about delivering this presentation faded away – I performed a small division of labour, and we talked a bit about what we were each going to say. (Although keep in mind that plans like these don’t always work out!)

The presentation itself was pretty simple – I introduced the group, then gave a little bit of background on the issue, while Eng Keat and “Stanford girl” spoke a little about the stakeholders involved as well as some possible resolutions before we moved into Q&A and were forced to defend our answers. Considering that the prompt was about haze, it wasn’t very difficult to talk about the issue considering that I read the news and I knew about some of the complexities regarding the issue. So I spoke everything that was on my mind, always trying to ensure that my colleagues got airtime to the interviewers too – Overall, I think they were pretty impressed with our presentation, because one of them praised us with a “good job” after the presentation!

Next, we have…

The second stage!

The second stage of my interview was conducted entirely in English by two JPA officers. In this stage, we were tasked, once again, with conducting a presentation – except in English.

This stage of the interview was slightly abstract, because the case study we were given was essentially a picture of the national flag, followed by the following question: How does this inspire feelings of patriotism within you?

Again, there was a discussion period of twenty minutes, which in this case I didn’t actually need, but I went along with the charade anyway. At this point in time, I was pretty sure that they wanted to test our rhetorical skill, which I had absolutely no problem with because I had been involved in Model UN and debate alike – In other words, I had no problem with bullshitting and structuring a presentation on the fly, with absolutely no planning, absolutely no consideration of the things that I was going to say.  My friend had a rough idea of the things that he wanted to say, so we spent the majority of the time helping “Stanford girl” come up with ideas for topics to talk about.

I don’t have very much to say about the second part of the interview apart from the fact that this interview went really well, because I was completely composed, and I had lots of preparation from previous debate tournaments, Model UN speeches drilled into my brain, etcetera. When you’ve mastered the art of giving seven-minute speeches in English, there really shouldn’t be a problem, or any degree of fear when you’re making things up on the fly, so that was cool.

Now, for the next (and last!) stage of the interview…

The third stage.

This interview was conducted partially in Malay and partially in English. By this point, I was assuming that the third stage was going to be some sort of Q&A session where I could talk about my interests and what I did in college, and I was right! This interview lasted about an hour total, and it was basically two JPA officers grilling us about national issues and our college backgrounds – Though to some extent it was about our background knowledge of the courses that we were going to study, I felt that on some level, the interviewers were simply trying to see how well we could cope under pressure.

The interview began with introductions. Name, the university that we were going to, and the course that we were going to study. Victor Tan, Economics, University of Chicago – (Insert name of friend), Maths, University of Oxford…. (Insert name of “Stanford Girl”. Applying to Stanford, seeking a degree in business and administration.)

The interviewers were curious about “Stanford Girl”, and they pressed further – Did she know how the scholarship worked? Did she have an unconditional offer from the university? In response to the first question, she said that she wanted JPA to apply for the university on her behalf. In response to the second question, she said no she did not have an offer from Stanford. Considering that she didn’t even understand the basic requirements of the scholarship, it was pretty much a given that she didn’t receive it in the end. However, seeing that she and her mum had spent over RM1000 booking flights and hotels in Kuala Lumpur, I felt pretty sorry for them both.

At some point, the interviewers stopped pressuring “Stanford Girl”, and they moved on to asking legitimate questions, which I can summarize in the following set of bullet points:

  •         Why are you interested in pursuing your field of study?
  •         Why the university that you chose?
  •         Will you come back after graduation?
  •         What is 1Malaysia?

The interesting thing about this interview, however, was that the interviewers were making up questions on the fly – And I was happy that I had the opportunity to actually engage someone in a conversation rather than talk at their face for 20 minutes straight.

When my friend noted that he was studying math at Oxford, the interviewers asked him the following – “Why does 1+1 = 2?”, to which my friend responded by noting that numbers and the rules of addition are part of an axiomatic and logical system in which meaning is absent when we do not abide by those rules – He also noted that numbers are arbitrary and carry a representational function, meaning that “3” could equal “2” if we had chosen to define our number system as such.

He explained this in Malay. The interviewers did not understand him, and it was kind of amusing to watch.

When it came to my turn, they asked a little bit about my university (in Malay) and why Economics, to which I gave them a bunch of generic answers which you can probably look up if you Google the name of my university. Additionally, they asked me how my knowledge of Economics would help Malaysia (in English), specifically about the allocation of BR1M payments to the poor as well as the removal of petroleum subsidies by the Malaysian government. My response included a short analysis of the historical trend of poverty in our country, (some!) discussion of national issues as well as the need for the NEP, BR1M, and other schemes in light of the economic inequality between the races, though whether I personally believed in those arguments was a separate issue entirely. (I had mentioned racial tensions, and my interviewer specifically zeroed in and asked me why those racial tensions occurred, so if you’re not very prepared to talk about something, make sure you don’t say it!)

They pretty much ignored “Stanford Girl”.

Subsequently, they had some fun pressuring us about whether or not we were going to come back after graduation. Trick question: if you receive that question, always say yes because you pretty much have to return after graduation, that’s what’s stipulated in the scholarship package. 😛

Lastly, they asked us about 1Malaysia. This was problematic, because much like the majority of you reading this article, I had no idea what 1Malaysia is, and I don’t care even now. It was okay though, because I just made up something, as did my friend, and the interviewer ran with that. Again, “Stanford Girl” was ignored.

And that was it!


In November, I was midway through Fall Quarter in UChicago, and I was studying for midterms one night (as usual!). A friend of mine messaged me to tell me that the scholarship results had been released, and naturally, there was a pretty big element of fear and anticipation on my end.

I remember the moment when I realized that all of that fear was unfounded… Because both my friend and I, we each received one of the five to eight JPA Ivy League dan Setara scholarships that were given out that year.

Needless to say, I was absolutely overjoyed. I remember calling my mum, my brother, anyone and everyone who would listen about the fact that I had gotten the scholarship, and I remember the 80 USD phone bill that resulted because I hadn’t considered the possibility that I might end up paying an exorbitant amount of money. Please don’t be like me, and try using Skype instead 😛

In reflection, I had a pretty good support system when it came to applying for this scholarship, because I had created a small Facebook group for all the scholarship applicants, and we had run a couple of mock interviews for ourselves throughout the course of applying for the scholarship. With that in mind, I’d like to specifically thank Dylan Ler for helping to conduct mock interviews for the scholarship, for in general being chill and helping us by speaking in Malay – By the day of the scholarship interview, we were all extremely well-prepared, and we could tackle pretty much any question that was thrown at us.

I was very, very happy as a result, because I knew that I had given my very best and gotten the result I was looking for.

With that in mind, here’s some advice.

Advice for prospective applicants.

  •         Don’t abandon your Malay just because you’re in college. You’ll need it for scholarship interviews, and if you can’t perform, ask yourself the following: If I were a scholarship officer seeking people to represent my scholarship body, would I pay RM1 million to send someone overseas when they can’t even speak the national language?
  •         Get informed. Know things that you would be expected to know as an informed citizen of this country. Do not compromise on reading the news, do not compromise on being updated about current affairs. If you don’t even take the effort to find out about how your country is being run or what’s happening in the world, nobody is going to be impressed by you no matter how well you’ve done academically.
  •         Dress well, cut your hair, and always be aware of how you are perceived. Granted, this may come off as hypocrisy considering the fact that I now have blonde hair and look like an ‘Ah Beng’, but I wore a suit on the day of the interview and I looked like a perfect ‘guaikia’. However, let me share the following anecdote with you: One of the scholarship applicants, an Imperial kid, if I’m not wrong, was in an elevator with me and an elderly gentleman as we moved from one floor of the JPA building to the venue where the interviews were being held – He was dressed in business casual, yes, but he hadn’t cut his hair. The elderly gentleman noted the following :”You’re going for an interview, and you look like a mess. How can we give you the scholarship like this?”

It’s true that this little incident may not have affected the overall outcome, considering that only five people did get the scholarship. However, it’s always important to be aware of how you are perceived and the way you carry yourself, because again, as a JPA scholar, you will be a REPRESENTATIVE of this country. Act like it.

  •         Hang out with other scholarship applicants! Use Google, add people on Facebook, organize organize organize! A great resource to use is www.recom.org, a scholarship forum on which I met a lot of different people who were applying for the scholarship – In fact, I’m willing to bet that the majority of you who are applying for this scholarship at this point in time have read Recom. Malaysia is a small country, with a small pool of people who are vying for the same thing. Don’t view people simply as competitors but rather as collaborators – Meet up, talk to each other, learn from one another, because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
  •         PRACTICE. Your interview is important, and it is the only factor that you can control. You can’t influence which university you’ve already gotten into, and this is the only real way that you can have an influence on the outcome as an applicant, your only shot to engage with your stakeholders as a human being. Remember that in your interview, every word has significance; everything you say forms an opinion on someone’s part about you, every gesture that you make informs someone about your character. If you lack confidence, it will show. If you lack the ability to speak in public, it will show. If you’re not someone that the scholarship body would want to interact with over a meaningful period of time… It will show. With that in mind, always make sure to practice. Get used to speaking in public, get used to talking to people and having a conversation, because these conversations with your JPA officers will not be one-dimensional. Maybe get a little group together, and conduct mock interviews among yourselves to see the extent to which you are prepared for the interview, and you’ll have at least some measure of preparation (and hopefully a better performance!) by the actual day.
  •         Ask for help and reach out! If you’re not sure about certain things, or if you’d like to get help with the scholarship application, don’t be afraid to ask previous scholars, because chances are we were in your position not all that long ago, and we will be willing to help. Drop emails, be nice – We won’t bite!

Concluding thoughts.

All in all, if you decide to apply for the scholarship, good luck! It was an extremely rewarding experience, and I made a bunch of new friends after my involvement in the process, so that was great. I still conduct mock interviews upon request (over Google Hangouts and Google Docs), so I still get involved from time to time. If you’re interested in getting in touch, do drop me an email at victortanws (AT) gmail (DOT) com. All the best

Victor Tan
The University of Chicago ’17.

imageedit_2_5394042979Victor Tan constantly questions why JPA thought that giving him a scholarship was a good idea. He is currently blonde and therefore a DVD-selling ahbeng, he occasionally blogs at http://theprimeconvergence.blogspot.com: Please make sure that your children never end up like him. He will (eventually!) finish reading Economics at The University of Chicago in 2017.

Securities Commission Scholarship

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The Securities Commission (SC) is the sole regulating body of the Malaysian derivatives and equities markets, which most of us commonly refer to as the stock market. Largely as part of the SC’s efforts in recruiting and retaining the brightest and sharpest Malaysian minds as members of its workforce, the SC has been offering and granting scholarships to deserving young Malaysians, mostly SPM-leavers and aspiring undergraduates. As mentioned, there are a few types of scholarships offered by the SC including those for Pre-University studies and undergraduate studies at local universities and overseas institutes of higher learning. Due to the very nature of the work conducted at the SC, the scholarships are offered to those interested in Economics, Actuarial Science, Accounting, Finance as well as Law.

For the purposes of this article, I can only offer insights into the Pre-University scholarship selection process as that is the one which I was fortunate enough to receive. Normally, the application process is open to SPM-leavers shortly after the announcement of the SPM results. The window for application is rather short, roughly one week, so applicants should have all the required documents ready to be scanned and sent to the SC including certified true copies of their SPM results, mandatory essay, extra-curricular activity certificates and parents’ salary slips. Applicants should have a minimum of 8A’s, though it is always best to refer to the SC’s website. Perhaps the million-dollar-question at the very beginning of the application process is that pertaining to extra-curricular activities. The best thing to do here is to specify a handful of your most treasured achievements throughout school life. This will not only allow you to focus your discussion on your deepest passions during the interview, but will also make it easier for the officer at the SC to read through your application. Frankly, five or less astounding achievements at state or national level which fit into half a page will leave a much better impression than five pages of trivial class or school level quizzes and games, especially when the officers at the SC have around 4000 applications to go through. To further back up this claim, at the scholarship awards ceremony, the SC highlighted every new scholar’s very best achievement rather than reading out a list five pages long. I myself was the Managing Director of my school’s mini-company under the Young Entrepreneurs programme, one of my contemporaries was a national level synchronised-swimmer, and every one of our fellow scholars was not to be outdone. In short, list five or less of your best achievements. As long as you believe in it, it will show when you are asked during the interview sessions without conscious effort and that will definitely leave a good impression.

For those who make it past this preliminary screening, the first stage of the selection process is a three-to-one interview at the SC’s main office in Bukit Kiara. Like any formal interview, the interviewee should dress smartly in office attire, carry one’s self in a professional and confident manner and never rush. Besides equipping one’s self with the information to answer generic interview questions like “tell us about yourself” and “why did you choose your chosen field?”, interviewees should take extra care in the minor details of self conduct such as walking into the interview room with a level head, taking a seat only after being invited to, maintaining only the best of manners and putting on a genuine smile (when appropriate!). Generally, exuding a positive aura will set one apart from the rest of those in the interviewee pool, in addition to being able to answer all the basic questions truthfully and confidently. Being interviewed by a panel of three interviewers can be daunting but thankfully the SC staff are very friendly people but interviewees should always treat them with utmost respect.

After waiting for a week or more, those who made it to the second stage will be required to attend a group evaluation session. Once again, in a bright and comfortable room in the SC’s main building, six interviewees will constitute a group where they will be given a few tasks to be solved. One example from my personal experience was when we were given the task of planning a basic framework for worldwide health and education plans. Each person had his or her own idea; some thought equal education opportunities was the ideal, others thought it as unfeasible, and there were those who thought specialised education by region or expertise was more efficient. Of course, this was all just a simulation. Regardless of the task, the distinguishing factor here is being able to contribute one’s ideas in a professional manner while respecting the opinions of others, being the informal leader without overshadowing anyone else and being outspoken without hogging the limelight. Whatever you do, never engage in a fight. Be willing to make reasonable compromises while still pushing for your own ideas as that will make you the better individual.

At the third stage of the selection process, applicants can finally take a breather as they are only required to complete an online psychology test from the comfort of their home. There is no secret here – just answer the questions truthfully as it is quite obvious when someone is trying to fabricate their results in a psychology test. Primarily, the questionnaire looks to analyse what seem to be the work ethics and habits of would-be scholars. After all, scholars will become employees of the SC after completing their tertiary education. Have faith in your good values and they will show in the test.

The fourth and final stage is a bit of a surprise. Those very few applicants left at this stage will be called for an interview with the SC once again, but this time with their parents. Rumours that circulated around that time were that the remaining applicants were almost guaranteed an offer for the scholarship. During the interview, the nature of the questions seemed to reinforce those rumours as the questions were being asked along the lines of “if you were granted the scholarship, will you fulfil your bond of 8 years with the SC?” and other similar questions. However, rumours are just that and there are still those who were filtered out of the selection process. A good tip at this final step would be to continue portraying the humility and manners which have gotten you this far while still being confident and outspoken.

To sum everything up, manners, a reasonable level of confidence, passion and professionalism are traits that will serve one well throughout the adventure of applying for any scholarship. On the night before an interview, the most vital thing to do is to get enough sleep so that you can perform at your peak when it matters. Rehearsals are good but do not overdo it and no amount of rehearsal can beat a fresh mind that is ready for anything the interviewers may ask. Oh, and never lie about anything whether in a face-to-face interview or in a written test as interviewers can sense when a person is trying to blow his or her achievements out of proportion or making false claims. The selection process may vary slightly from year to year, but I do hope this article helps you anticipate and prepare for the common pathway in scholarship applications. On a more personal note, good luck to all of you who rise to the challenge of applying for a scholarship!


Alif Azlan Leong will be furthering his studies at University College London under the Securities Commission Scholarship. Although his profession will be in Economics, he has a wide range of interests from music to fitness and even cooking.

Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship Q&A

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

Basically you would just have to submit your application. I did mine by post because I had no scanner! I didn’t even know whether it arrived or not, but given that I’m a scholar now, I guess it did!

You would have to write an essay, and then go for an interview, then for an activity filled day. Note: there are no IQ questions or those funny diagram stuff.

2. Can you elaborate on what happened in each stage?

a) If it was an interview, what were the questions asked?

I’ve been to a couple of interviews and I’ve got to say that I enjoyed this the most. They don’t ask about their own company – they are not so vain. They don’t brag about themselves, and they don’t put you down. But you would have to know the basic things, for example: why you chose that course and some of your personal views. Don’t worry: they don’t ask about international affairs, or politics. This also means that the arrows are all pointed at you. You are under the spotlight and you better know yourself because if you don’t, you will cry. YOU WILL CRY. You have been warned.

b) If it was an assessment camp, what were the activities conducted?

There is no assessment camp, but there will be a day filled with activities testing your group-work and god knows what else they are looking at. This will be the last stage if you’ve managed to survive the assessment and the interview. It would not be wrong to say that you’ve just got to be yourself. Somehow it felt as if the whole thing was structured so you will continually shed some light on yourself and your personality. There is no hiding here.

c) If it was a group discussion, what was the topic and format?

They have a fetish about public speaking. The topics are randomly chosen out of a goldfish bowl. The problem with top scorers nowadays, is that most of them cannot talk. It’s not their fault but this is how we were brought up. So, if you have stage fright… don’t worry, there is no stage, just a lot of people staring at you.

d) If it was a test, what were the types of questions?

No tests, just essay writing. No tips, just write your heart out. Don’t fake it, they will know. There’s a lie detector test later when they read your essay out loud and confirm the details that you’ve written. Just joking.

e) If you need to submit an essay, what was it about and what did you include in your essay?

Again, the essays are random topics. Just develop yourself with maturity and maintain that. Personally, I’ve used simple English with zero quotes or proverbs or whatever things you might have prepared for SPM. You would most probably have to write twice. The first one within a week from the application deadline, and the other would be spontaneous. Oh yeah, bring a pen along with you for the interview if you make it there. Trust me, you will need it.

3. Could you elaborate the environment, atmosphere and feelings in each stage?

They love you. Honestly, they really love you. They adore you. They don’t skimp on taking care of you. The food is great. They do not serve you take-away food. Rather, they bring you to restaurants. Even when they cater the food, it is delicious hotel-grade servings. Best of all, everyone there will be nervous. You would find some sucking up to the persons in charge, some socially active butterflies, and some like me, going after the food.

4. What do you think you did right to get the scholarship?  What do you think helped your application the most?

a) What are some of the past experiences/ ECA/ work attachment/ academic achievements that the reviewers were most interested about?

I think I had the worst qualifications. There were athletes, geniuses, hot girls and handsome guys. So what helped my application the most was that I was just being myself and nothing more. Speak clearly with your own values. Don’t be afraid to show them who you are. You might just be the one they are looking for. Don’t worry about feeling inferior. Just remember that everyone there is just as scared as you.

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

Don’t miss the deadline and bring a pen along. Most importantly, enjoy the food and hospitality! There might be some people who intimidate you, so stay away from them. Don’t worry about fitting in there. Be comfortable and be yourself. The toilets are clean if you need to puke.

6. How did you prepare for the scholarship application? Any useful resources?

Rise up and be the best. The world is yours. Or at least pretend so.


Tiew Kai Xiang is a Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship holder currently pursuing his study in Advance Tertiary College. He’s single and available.

MARA Scholarship Application

MARA: this is an acronym that will definitely crop up when you’re hunting for scholarships in Malaysia, especially when you’re an SPM leaver (like me). Standing for Majlis Amanah Rakyat, it is an agency under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. It has been facilitating socio-economic development since 1966.

Teaming up with JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam), they have been offering a joint sponsorship programme this year under Program Khas Lepasan SPM 2013 (MARA-JPA). This sponsorship is open to Bumiputra applicants who wish to further their studies in one of a vast selection of courses: engineering, medicine, architecture, law, economics, and plenty more!

Hence, if you are a soon-to-be Bumiputra SPM candidate hoping to study overseas, I hope my experience will be a foretaste of what is to come for you. Note that you will not be bonded to MARA after graduation, but you will have to repay a part of the sponsored amount, the percentage of which depending on how well you do. The repayment rates vary according to the field of study, but it is roughly 10-20% of the sponsored amount, depending on your performance. However, it quickly becomes 50% if you need to repeat and 100% if you drop out.

First Stage: Online Application

Similar to other scholarship and sponsorship applications, this is where you fill in your details. Usually, it will be open within a short period of time after your SPM results are released, so you better get filling fast! You can check on the main MARA website (www.mara.gov.my), to see whether the application website is already online. On their application website, they will upload a list of programmes for you to choose from. The following will be listed:

  • Field of study
  • Programme code
  • Type of pre-university study (A-Levels, International Baccalaureate, etc.)
  • Preparatory college for pre-university studies
  • Country to further studies in
  • Duration of studies
  • Conditions to study overseas
  • Programme requirements

Though it is a joint programme between MARA and JPA, they offer their individual programmes. The programme code distinguishes the sponsoring body, with those beginning with JPA sponsored by JPA (no-brainer), and LN (overseas) and DN (local) by MARA.

Choose carefully, and note the requirements of the programme you want to do. This is so as different fields of study could have different pre-university studies, different study durations, different countries to fly to, and different conditions! For example, LN0207 and LN1001 are both engineering programmes bound overseas, but LN0207 will offer you A-Levels and ship you to the UK, US or Australia, whilst LN1001 offers Korean pre-university studies and sends students to Korea!

At this point, it is best to have your career option, study style and university in mind, because this will allow you to select the best programme for you.

On the online application form, you will be allowed to choose two programmes. However, both those programmes must be from the same sponsoring body, so you can’t pick JPA001 and LN0101 if you intend on doing medicine, for example.

After you have submitted your application (submit early!), you will be given a slip to be printed, stating that you have completed your application. Note the website address you can check your application results on, and make sure you check it EVERY DAY!

Second Stage: Psychometric Test

When the first stage of your application is successful, you will be notified on their website within a month. From there, you will be given a date and time for your psychometric test. This test will be done online, and has four sections: IQ, Personality, General Knowledge, and Morality. Make sure you sit for the test on time, and that your computer and Internet connection is up and running. Don’t fret, as it is quite simple – but be sure to manage your time wisely and check that you have answered all the questions. At the end, print the completion slip as proof that you took the test.

Third Stage: Interview

Next, after you take the psychometric test, you will be told your interview time and venue by phone and through the same website 2-3 weeks after sitting the psychometric test. It will be in the form of an interview slip, which you must print out. Alongside the previously-mentioned slips, the following must be prepared and brought to the interview:

  • Certified true copies of your identity card as well as your parents’
  • Certified true copies of your birth certificate as well as your parents’
  • Certified true copies of your parents’ death certificate (if applicable)

The interview experience varies according to programme, from what I have read from past applicants online. For me, a hopeful engineering student, it was at Kolej MARA Seremban on a Saturday afternoon. Nervous, I took the train from KL Sentral to Seremban and a taxi from the station to the college, where there was a huge batch of hopeful applicants. At 2:00 PM, we were seated in a hall, where we were separated into groups of 10. After sorting out the paperwork, we were led to the interview rooms.

Firstly, our group of 10 was separated into 2 groups of 5. We were given ribbons, and were told to design 3 types of ketupat casings (since Hari Raya was 2 months away) and present those designs to the interviewers. With virtually no experience in weaving ketupats, it may seem like an impossible task, but what they want to see is the team-work amongst group members and how well we can adapt to something we most probably will have no experience in doing whatsoever. Besides that, the presentation provided a way for us to articulate our ideas clearly and show our creative and innovative side.

Then, we were asked questions on current issues. Mine was on my stance on abortion, and I articulated my opinion clearly as well as justified my stance on the topic. The questions are fully in English, and you will be expected to answer completely in English. However, for those who have not answered the questions, the interviewers asked the questions in Malay, but they must answer in English. What the interviewers wanted is for us to be able to articulate and communicate well in English as well as maturity in thought and awareness of what is happening throughout the world.

After that, we were told to form one group to discuss 3-4 case studies and come to a conclusion within a set period of time. At this point, we would have to demonstrate our ability to discuss and reason in a mature manner, to listen to everyone’s opinions and to ensure that everyone in the group agrees to our resolution on the matter. At this time, it is best not to out-talk the rest of the group, but rather engage every group member and let them all participate actively in the discourse.

At the end, we were asked to grade our group members, and then the interview was done. For me, it was a tiring yet fulfilling day.

Fourth Stage: Acceptance, and paperwork filling…

Interview results should be out within a month, through the given website address. I checked mine late one night, a few days before I flew back to my hometown of Kuching, and I was elated that I was offered a place. Quietly, I accepted the offer, and printed the slip – not telling my parents about it until the day before we left for Kuching! My father was happy for me, but my mother (who also has been anxiously checking the website as well) chided me for not telling her that very night I accepted the offer, claiming that she almost got a heart attack when I told her!

By this time, I was reading about my preparatory college, Kolej MARA Seremban, from blogs written by alumni, to know what to expect when I register in July. At this time as well, you will have to fill in online forms for the college registration as well as print permission letters – all through the individual college’s website. Around that time as well, you will have to fill in yet more online forms (so be prepared with all the information you will need!), and print out yet more forms.

For me, that part was a major headache, and took up most of my holidays. Be prepared to read your terms and conditions of your sponsorship, as well as to run around chasing after signatures and stamps, especially with your agreement contract. You will also need two guarantors. Only ONE parent (either your mother or your father but NOT both) can be your guarantor, so you will need to find another person to fill the gap. It can be any working adult below 50 earning above a stipulated amount of money and is not bankrupt.

Organise your papers so they won’t get lost or jumbled up, and when in doubt, call your preparatory college to ask for clarifications on filling up your paperwork. Also, this will be the time for you to get all your supplies you need before you register at your college.

Digression: the novelty of boarding life

Okay, this is aimed to all you non-boarders out there. Being in an ordinary secondary school for 5 years, I’ve always been the one who cherish the comforts of home, what with the privacy, hot showers, and air-conditioning. However, when I finally went to Kolej MARA Seremban, I didn’t have those three things in my dormitory. Hence, every morning starts with a mini-heart-attack-inducing cold shower, a hot trek under the sun after class, and 2 other guys who know that you embarrassingly sing along to One Direction when you study in your room.

Even so, after a month at Kolej MARA Seremban, I could safely say that life as a boarder is quite fun, what with the midnight strolls to the cafeteria, camping out in the library, and exploring every probably-haunted corner of campus! Also, you will share a closer bond with friends, with all those midnight stories they tell that make every night more interesting.

Yes, it might feel all Spartan at first, but it is an interesting way of preparing to live alone abroad, far from the delights of home – and perhaps take the chance to ponder on the future that is to come.

In conclusion

(Note: these things may sound cheesy and clichéd, but they are cheesy and clichéd because they are undeniably true.) I truly feel blessed to have been offered a sponsorship from MARA, because it has been my dream to study overseas in the United Kingdom. This sponsorship has not only eased the financial burden on my parents, but also given me a new pair of lenses to see the world through; so now, I see the world as a vast basket of opportunities waiting to unlock my hidden potentials, propelling me towards success. In this I hope, and I hope as well that you, dear reader, will see the world like that too. All the best, never give up, and keep moving forward!


Kiwan Richard 1Kiwan Richard is a Bidayuh MARA scholar from Kuching, who is now doing A-Levels at Kolej MARA Seremban towards the field of Engineering. He hopes to be accepted into the University of Cambridge, but the University of Oxford too holds a dear place in his heart. A keen lover of books, he also loves writing in his free time when he is not playing the piano (and rendering everyone else tone deaf with his compositions). With Rene Descartes’s ‘Cogito ergo sum’ is his maxim; he sees thought as the liquid gold that lines every facet of existence, and urges everyone to look deeper than the surface – to truly understand what it means to truly be.

Genting Malaysia Scholarship


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 The Genting Malaysia Scholarship application has 3 stages and the process is pretty straight forward. First of all, check if you are eligible to apply for the scholarship. The details are all up in their website. You can also get additional information from  www.afterschool.my (that was where I got to know about the Genting Malaysia Scholarship.  As for fields of study, they cover almost everything ranging from Economics to Civil Engineering.

As we all know, Genting Malaysia is a profit driven organization which diversifies into many branches of entertainment and therefore, this scholarship programme is merely a CSR project. Also, what I realised about this scholarship programme is the fact that the organization will determine if you are worth their investment, and they will gauge if you will be able to help them earn additional income in the near future. Therefore, there is a very distinct difference between the Genting Malaysia scholarship and other more social-oriented scholarships like the Bank Negara Scholarship and the JPA scholarships.

MAIN ADVICE: If your course is ridiculously expensive, your chances are very, very slim. (London/Melbourne/other high-cost city universities)  So, getting them to sponsor you a much cheaper university can most likely score you a scholarship by them.

The First Stage

The first stage is an online application form provided by the corporation itself. In March or April, the online applications should be open, and you are required to fill in your details and answer a few questions. Nothing much. Just a very generic application form to understand more about your qualifications.

The Second Stage

This is when they email you stating that they have received your application and that you will be notified. When you obtain another email telling you about an online assessment, that means you have already gotten Genting’s attention with your results and qualifications. The online assessment has two separate assessments. One is to test your intelligence (IQ) and another is to test your personality.

THE FIRST ASSESSMENT IS VERY IMPORTANT. The scores of this online assessment will be brought forward to the final assessment in Genting.  So make sure you do well in that assessment.

The Third Stage

This is where all the fun starts. Most applicants are rejected at this point, leaving about 4-10% of the best applicants left. (That was what I was told by one of the Genting HR members). You will now get another email, inviting you to actually GO TO GENTING HIGHLANDS and attend a full-day assessment. It sounds really intimidating at first, but you will be fine.

The assessment varies each year, but during my year, there are many assessments that will be carried out (mainly aptitude tests) throughout the whole day. There are written assessments, oral assessments, group case studies, general activities, interviews and other agendas. It is not THAT difficult to get through all these assessments.

As for the interview, the interviewers are very very nice people. Just be fairly confident about yourself and try to shine from the crowd. Convince them that you will be able to reap more benefits for the organization compared to the others. Four interviews will commence at a time, making the interview session very quick and stress-free. Once you’re done, you are excused and permitted to leave the place and proceed to the casino.


Towards the end, you will be notified by email or phone about the updates of your application. They will take about a month or so to get back to the applicants and therefore, be patient about it.

Remember, the success of obtaining this scholarship isn’t all about your academic or co-curricular excellence, nor is it about your performance in the full-day assessment. The cost of your studies is one of the main factors to your success in scoring the scholarship. The cheaper, the better. Therefore, if you are aspiring to study Chemical Engineering in a university like Imperial College London, you might need to go the extra mile to win the hearts of your interviewer.

Good luck in your application. You guys can do it.

DISCLAIMER: This article is written based on James’ own experiences, opinions and reflections and all claims about the scholarship are based on his own reasoning and observation. 


James Chong Sheng Han will be pursuing Economics in University College London under the JPA scholarship although he was also awarded the Genting Malaysia Scholarship. Beware. His jokes can be very dangerous. Victims are found rolling on the floor laughing hysterically


4 Stages of the Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Selection Process


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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:

Online Application:

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 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. 🙂

Bursary Pelajar Cemerlang SPM

While everyone is dreaming to study abroad, financial issues are one of the biggest problems faced by the majority of us. Look at the enormous amount of tuition fees, price of course books, high living costs and conversion rate; studying abroad does not only cost a bomb, but it is going to cost a nuclear bomb! While it is true enough that plenty of financial aid is available out there, the process of applying for it can still be a daunting one. Going through series of interviews and assessments can be really stressful, and many of us might start wishing for an “interview-less” scholarship. Well, as unbelievable as it seems, there really IS an “interview-less” scholarship!KPM_Logo

Starting from 2012 (applicable toall SPM leavers from 2011 onwards), the Malaysian Ministry of Education (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia) has introduced a new bursary program for all Malaysian students, known as ‘Program Bursary Pelajar Cemerlang SPM’. Students who scored 9A+ and above in their SPM are automatically granted full bursaries to do their Pre-University programme locally. Various types of Pre-U programmes are available, such as The Malaysian Matriculation Programme, STPM, A Levels, International Baccalaureate etc. (In this case I shall focus on A Levels and IB, which are the more common routes to overseas universities.)

The MOE provides a list of local private colleges for students to choose where they would like to complete their Pre-U studies. The bursaries will cover the cost of the chosen Pre-U program. Monthly allowances, book fees and return flight tickets for those who are coming from East Malaysia are also covered by the MOE.

Students who have completed their Pre-U studies under this program can continue pursuing their undergraduate degrees with scholarships provided by the Public Service Department of Malaysia (commonly known as JPA), which are subjected to conditions. Though these conditions are being updated each year, they are definitely achievable! Here’s a rough idea of the conditions:

  • Achieve a CGPA of 3.75 or above in your Pre-U programme.
  • Secure an unconditional offer from any one of the local public universities, local private tertiary institutions or World’s Prestigious Universities (overseas) for a recognized degree. (A list of universities is also provided by the JPA on their website.)
  •  Attend one (or two) assessment camp(s) organized by JPA and/or the Prime Minister’s Department (Jabatan Perdana Menteri Malaysia).

The whole process does not require any interviews, which is pretty cool! All the students have to do after getting their SPM results, is to register themselves online in the system. Everything will be processed automatically. Once approved, you can start your college with nothing else but a print-out confirmation letter.

So start your preparation early. Your SPM result can be life-changing. Studying abroad is no longer an impossible dream to all Malaysian students!

Links which you may find useful:

  1. KPM website: http://www.moe.gov.my/
  2. JPA: http://esilav2.jpa.gov.my/
  3. List of approved universities: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5qVTUF0YlkyWUQ0ZUFYZzdxYkE/preview

GraceGrace Chai Huey Yann is a pure science student who is heading to the University of Warwick to read law under JPA scholarship. She is recently crazy about a micro-blogging mobile apps, Dayre.