Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Academy 2018

Greetings, readers! I am Faisal, a Bank Negara Malaysia’s Kijang Scholarship recipient for the year 2018/2019 and I am delighted to share my experience with you. First of all, I would like to clarify that the assessments are carried out differently every year. This article will only then give a glimpse of the style of the assessment. I will not be able to describe the whole process to avoid revealing some confidential parts.

First Day

Contrary to previous years, there were only about 60 candidates that made it through the online application stage in 2018. On the first night, we were sorted into our respective groups and were briefed on the central bank’s organisational structure and the scholarship programme itself. There were no assessments held. Previous Kijang scholars (who are currently serving their bond) were assigned to each group as mentors. At first, when no one had the guts to start a conversation, it was rather awkward. However, our mentors were nothing but friendly and I found myself enlightened by the situation. They were the ones who started the conversation and we had quite a fruitful discussion throughout the night.

One of my mentors is an Economics undergraduate. She was definitely my point of reference as I myself applied to read Economics. If the same activity is carried out in 2019, my best advice for you is to ask as many questions as possible to understand what you will be facing in the future as a central bank scholar.

Second Day

The group assessment was split into four stages.

The first stage was ice-breaking with the assessing panel in our respective groups. One by one, we were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to let the panel get to know us better. Towards the end of the session, each of us were given a blank A4 paper and coloured pens and was told to produce a simple magazine cover that summarizes our personality and interests precisely and concisely. Indeed, the first stage made us knew each other better and we became more comfortable around each other.

The second stage was a grouped task (balancing water bottles on a bridge made of straws and newspapers). Each group were given materials such as straws, newspapers, scissors and cellophane tape. It was more challenging as we were only allowed to use the materials to produce a bridge (of our own design) that is able to hold as many water bottles as possible. It was quite an intense activity as each group were divided into two and one subgroup was not allowed to communicate with the other. Hence, we had to make half of the bridge, hoping that we were able to connect them together and produce a strong bridge. Surprisingly, our bridge managed to hold 3 bottles compared to others in our room which could only hold 2 bottles on average.

The third stage was a role-playing task. Each group were instructed to come up with a solution to a business problem (our goal was to develop a project with the objective of complying with CSR). I was assigned to the administration team. My responsibility was to assure that our proposals would not backfire and self-contradict. Perhaps, that was the task other candidates found the hardest. There was definitely pressure as we were allocated very little time and were required to complete a rather detailed proposal.

I am not able to recall the fourth stage accurately. From what I remember, each group had to present a daily life situation that requires us to apply knowledge from the respective fields we applied for. For instance, since some of the members of my group applied for Economics, we re-enacted a situation that portrayed how corporations use supply and demand theories to target consumers.

Third Day

Reality hurts but that’s just how life works. Only about half of us made it to the interview stage and we were sorted into groups according to the courses we applied for. Prior to the interview, we had to create a presentation based on a given topic using a mah-jong paper and marker pens. We were instructed to present our ideas before the interview.

The interview process was similar to the interviews that we have heard from other people. The interviewers could ask what you know regarding the structure of the central bank, your reasons for applying for the scholarship (why Bank Negara out of all?) and what made you choose to study the intended course. Most importantly, to get to know you and understand who you truly are.

What I think I did well and what should you do?

I think I should reiterate what was said by other previous (and current) scholars. The idea is to be as natural as possible. It is undeniable that your knowledge of current issues (particularly those pertaining to the course that you applied for) is a valuable indicator of your potential. However, I believe that some candidates might try to show their potential by plainly using economic jargon throughout the assessment. Some candidates can also come off as very weak team players especially when they are quick to dismiss other people’s ideas. Besides intellect, I believe that the central bank is looking for candidates that cooperate well in teams, an aspect that is vital for functionality in an organisation. It is advisable to stay true to your personality when you are being assessed. This way, not only are you able to express yourself truly, it will also help you go through the assessment calmly.


Faisal is currently a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholar who’s completing his A-level at Epsom College in Malaysia. Having full faith in his passion, he aims to study in Economics in the United Kingdom (particularly UCL). His A-level subjects are Economics, Chemistry and Further Mathematics. As an active member of the Epsom Debating Society, Faisal believes that discourses in a community are essential for positive outcomes. Even though you may see Faisal with his emo hair and grumpy face, Faisal is actually a highly friendly and sociable person so feel free to talk to him whenever you see him. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at contactus@collegelah.com.

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Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholarship Application

“Ancora Imparo : I am still learning” – Italian philosopher.

First of all, I would like to praise the Almighty because I had the chance to be shortlisted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for the Kijang Scholarship. Here is a short timeline of the subsequent process, and may this be an eye-opener and an inspiration to anyone reading this. May it help you in your future interviews insyaAllah.

So, a week before the Kijang Academy, I received a phone call from my sister who said that a representative from BNM wanted to talk to me. I promptly returned the call and spoke to a Ms. Rafidah of the Scholarship Department. She told me I wasn’t shortlisted for the Actuarial Science I had applied for, but they were willing to offer me Economics. I immediately gave them my answer: a flat-out YES!

6th April 2018

I arrived early at Lanai Kijang (the Bank’s purpose-built residence), perhaps around 2.30pm. My parents drove me there and they were admittedly more excited than me.

I registered at the reception and got my room number. While waiting for my keys, I leafed through the namelist and discovered only 61 candidates were given the invitation to join the Kijang Academy (a selection camp for the Kijang scholarships), including 12 candidates for Kijang Emas.

That night, all candidates sat in a full group for the first time and there, we met our mentors: Mr. Haziq, Ms. Sharlene and another whom I didn’t get to know. We had the chance to introduce ourselves and asked questions about the scholarship.

7th April 2018

Activity 1 – Magazine Covers

We stayed in Lanai Kijang but the group activities were held in Sasana Kijang (a nearby BNM complex housing conference venues). For the first activity, we had to draw a magazine cover of ourselves and present it to the panel one by one. Then, we had to exchange stories with partners. The session ended with us voting on the best magazine cover.

Activity 2 – Kijang Bridge

In the next activity, we were tasked to build a 60cm bridge using straws, old newspaper and tape. Challenging? Indeed!

The panel asked how many bottles we thought our bridge could withstand. I, representing my group (K2), confidently told them 13. Other groups (K1 and K3) put lower targets. At the end, our bridge was hideous. So when it was judgement time, the panel asked if we wanted to lower our initial target. K2 was firm in maintaining ours, while other groups relented. I justified why I wanted to stay with 13 despite the horrible structure, amid the panelists’ doubt over our bridge. The outcome was unexpected. K2’s bridge didn’t topple and managed to withstand 1 bottle. The K1 Bridge toppled before even putting any bottles. K3 withstood 1 bottle.

Activity 3 – Case Study

This was a failure. I’m definitely blaming myself because I didn’t understand the concept of CSR. Sorry team. But what was the case study about? No spoilers.

Activity 4 – Role Playing

Our group had to compete against another in planning a 7-minute drama. The topic of our choice was ‘Curious.com’, an online shopping website. Both teams were amazing and hilarious: in either team there were such talented actors.

At the end of the day, we had a session with the panel. They gave us feedback and motivation going on our future paths.

Thank you panel, if you’re reading this. Mrs Fauziah, Mr Chai and Mr KI, lots of love.

That night, we were assembled in the hall. Names were called out one by one and we were instructed to exit the hall. My name was one of the earliest to be called; I was scared but stayed calm.

29 names in total were called out and we were brought to a room. We were then told that we managed to proceed to the next stage. Alhamdulillah!

Personally, I wanted the whole team to proceed but the panel had to make the cut. So moving to next stage from K2, were Kah Hou, Faisal, Husin and me.

8th April 2018

The final assessment day, where I managed to proceed to the last stage.

For the final stage, we had to prepare an individual presentation. I’m not a creative person so I wrote words: just words, and not even sentences. We were then ushered to separate rooms. One by one, we wished our friends good luck and I was second to present. Alhamdulillah it went well. Again, not spoiling any content on the nature of the presentation.

Before we went home, we stopped by the Bank Museum. After the tour, we packed our bags from Lanai Kijang and went home. It was a sad moment for me, immersed in an environment with amazing people with unique personalities. I really wished it would have lasted longer.

A big thanks to Bank Negara for giving me the chance to experience Kijang Academy. Will I get the scholarship? InsyaAllah, I don’t know really. Do pray for me. The results will be out at the end of April.


Muhammad Alif Iman is currently a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholar. He completed his SPM in Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah Putrajaya and is currently pursuing his A-Levels in Epsom College in Malaysia (ECiM). As he is planning on pursuing an Economics degree, his A-Level subjects are Economics , Politics , Mathematics , Further Maths and EPQ. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at contactus@collegelah.com.

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.