Law Personal Statement

Ariana Ng  is currently a first year undergraduate reading LLB Law at University of Nottingham. This personal statement was part of his successful application to University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University of London for Law.

A conversation with a law student sparked my interest in law. She suggested that it would be possible to sue your neighbour if a leaf from your neighbour’s tree fell on your property. After some research, I concluded that she had over exaggerated the situation as you could only hold your neighbour liable if it caused nuisance or damage. However, I realised how every aspect of a person’s life was governed by legislation that even included the simplest of things: a leaf.

The complex arguments behind cases fascinates me. For example in Mayor of Bradford v Pickles, Mr. Pickles deliberately intercepted the water supply on his land, which flows to the city of Bradford. Lord Halsbury LC said: “If it was a lawful act, however ill the motive might be, he had a right to do it” when ruling this case. Lord Halsbury’s reasoning was surprising as I assumed that laws exist to prevent those with malicious thoughts from actualising them. “What About Law?” by Barnard et al inquires further into this with a hypothetical case in which David tries to kill his girlfriend through voodoo. His motive could justify a conviction even if the intended harm is impossible. I noticed that the defendant’s motive was more critical in the latter case as attempted murder is a more serious offence than the right to use one’s water supply. However, other legal findings such as interpretation of the statute may change the final ruling of either cases. The intricacies of the law inspired me to research further.

I decided to explore the workings of the law by writing an EPQ on the reliability of eyewitness testimonies. My initial research from journals by E. E. Loftus proves that eyewitness’ testimonies are fallible due to the malleability of one’s memory. I questioned why eyewitnesses’ testimonies are still used in court as innocent people had been wrongly convicted. A discussion with a visiting law professor made me aware that eyewitness’ testimonies provide closure and act as a means to serve justice especially if victims themselves testify. I only looked into the injustice faced by innocent defendants and neglected how the acceptance of these testimonies was a safeguard to protect victims. Through my EPQ, I learnt to address conflicting interests and present a non-biased argument – skills which I hope to develop further by reading law.

I came across a module about International Law by Dr. Tzanakopoulos during my Oxford Summer Camp. I was intrigued by this new topic but I contributed little to the discussion and kept questions to myself – a weakness I knew I had to address. I joined the Model United Nations club to ensure that my questions would no longer be left unanswered and honed my debating skills.

My internship with Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill, a Malaysian law firm that specialises in civil law, enabled me to help in the research of the associates and chambering students. It was a very fulfilling experience especially assisting in pro bono work that involved defending ethnic minority children that were discriminated against by their local authority. I realised that lawyers play a vital role in upholding the rule of law by ensuring everyone has access to legal redress.

My scholarship with the Central Bank has reinforced what my role will be in preserving the stability of the financial system through the law. The response to the 1MBD scandal failed to hold those who had created insecurity in Malaysia accountable. The lack of judicial power and ineffective institutional framework have formed an executive with little constraints and this may have stemmed from the 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis. As a central bank scholar who may one day initiate or be part of the necessary reform to prevent these financial scandals, this issue hit close to home.

It is my ambition to read law and I am keen to return to Malaysia with some possible remedies to the issues faced in Malaysia.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Law Personal Statement

Jansen Law Zhen Hao  is currently a first year undergraduate reading Law LLB at University College London. This personal statement was part of his successful application to UCL, LSE,  King’s College London, University of Bristol and University of Warwick for Law.

The judicial state of Malaysia is worrying. The catalyst of change for the prejudiced has been freedom of speech. Malaysia’s strengthening of the Sedition Act has harshly restricted this freedom as illustrated in 2015 whereby surges of government critics were prosecuted under the Act. It baffles me how a bygone act, abused by autocrats, is justified due to Malaysia’s racially tensed past and multi-faceted society. Democracy in Malaysia is dissipating as lines of permissibility are contingent on political convenience rather than legal foresight. The discussion on what laws should be universal, and variable based on the society it serves, is one that has sparked my interest in law.

Amidst questionable laws, the recent decline of respected lawyers has left citizens in a limbo of mistrust. “A strong legal system prevents tyranny” becomes an unattainable statement. The rule of ‘separation of powers’ in Malaysia has disorientated into a farrago of chaos. No thanks to politically motivated legal members and absurd constitutionally-granted power of parliament to amend free speech laws. The way faults in a legal system can change a country’s path is both a fearful and riveting trait that I would love to explore.

My interest led me to an internship with the chief criminal lawyer in Malaysia. Knowledge of legal terms and concepts made trials and commentaries easier to process. Mr.Salim developed my analytical skills by presenting me legal principles and asking for their applications in scenarios. While interning, I discovered a trend in Malaysian rape cases showing that a defense counsel had to not only raise doubt but actively prove an accused’s innocence. Due to cultural disgust for sex offenders, the rule of law has been distorted. This reaffirmed my view that the Malaysian legal system has been controversially morphed based on non-legal reasons. Differences between morality and legality interest me as it results in the discrepancy in punishments.

I had the opportunity to substantiate my views on the Sedition Act in my EPQ. My essay focused on how the Act deviated off legal principles and how these deviations weren’t justified in other contexts. I assessed that the Sedition Act was unlike other strict liability offences. Statutes of traditional offences clearly detail provisions to justify that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Yet, there has been prosecutions under Malaysia’s Sedition Act based on broadly undefined terms such as ‘feelings of ill will and enmity’. I also questioned the proportionality of the punishment in the Act. I found a Malaysian Law, requiring proven intent, punished those that made offensive racial remarks with a lesser imprisonment time than Sedition. This was in spite of how those remarks would also constitute Sedition. Through my survey and interviews with lawyers and politicians, I was also able to contextualize Sedition in a political and social landscape.

The prospect of compounding my views with greater legal knowledge in university motivates me. Love for greater knowledge and varying planes of logic culminated in my election as President of the Debate Society. Debating refined my verbalized thoughts and enabled me to pick out main points of contention. I have learned that verbal smokescreens and clutter were prominent in my court visits – the ability to pick out the main issues would be vital. The opportunity to be a trainee judge at national level competitions solidified my debating prowess. Judging allowed me to critically contrast the pros and cons of an argument and analyze a participant’s thought process and logic post-debate.

I look forward to studying Law as the debate is a cornerstone of the course. My experiences have equipped me with discipline, persistence, and consistency to fulfill my potential in law and consolidated my interest. Studying Law will allow me to navigate through political discord and influence people on juggling Malaysian intricacies and democracy through laws.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Law Personal Statement

Swaathi Balajawahar  is currently a first year undergraduate reading Law LLB at King’s College London. This personal statement was part of her successful application to King’s College London and University of Manchester for Law.

The law is not an entity that is meant to be ossified, but is rather the substratum of how a society functions, constantly evolving to meet humanity’s ever-changing demands. The fluidity of law fascinates me as I see lawyers as agents of change, often contributing to the emergence and growth of a civil society. In Malaysia, however, partisan laws have induced a climate of fear. The Sedition Act 1948, a colonial era law that restricts free speech acts as a dragnet for dissenters. The heavily criticised Internal Security Act 1960, although recently repealed and replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, continues to quell political dissidence. With the unjustified prosecution of activists and opposition in my country, I realise that lawyers as well as the people have been silenced by the active criminalisation of discourse.

Reflecting upon history helps me grasp the origins of such draconian laws. The sanguinary events of the May 1969 racial riots led to the government introducing the Constitution (Amendment) Act of 1971 that warrants the Parliament to pass legislation which would limit dissent, especially with regards to the Social Contract. As the people began to fear a recurrence of the past, they found solace in these unjust laws, sacrificing free speech for the idea of safety and an illusion of interracial unity.

Throughout school, I was warned against promoting dialogue. Now as a national scholar, I am contractually forbidden to partake in any political discussion; free speech was the price I paid for my education. Debating was my escape as it led me to question the dogma I had been inculcated with. I learnt to form my own opinions based on informed arguments, substantiated with reasoning and evidence. I embraced diverse perspectives, realising that discourse was not to be despised, but appreciated – an understanding crucial in the study of law.

My past experiences have equipped me with the vital skills required to pursue this field. Growing up in a conservative Indian family, I was forced to assume traditional gender roles. However, joining the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, I organised speeches and campaigns that empowered myself and others to seek gender equality. During my term as the President of the Interact Club, I realised the importance of rules in maintaining the integrity of an association. I obeyed strict protocols in carrying out community projects to preserve the reputation of the club, while portraying high levels of ethics. As a prefect, however, I challenged the need for superficial rules by promoting dialogue between the stakeholders of such regulation. The skills that I have learned shaped my conviction to not only advocate for change, but also question the efficacy of conventional rules, while complying to ethical principles. Eventually, my zeal for interpreting how the law operates drove me to initiate a Law Society in my college.

My curiosity to explore various legal avenues led me to a job attachment with CIMB Bank. Assigned under Group Compliance, I analysed irregularities in transaction patterns based on the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Funding laws. Here I understood the need for stringent rules to maintain integrity, even for major profit-seeking universal banks. However, ruminating on the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad scandal that tainted my country as a kleptocracy, I realised strict regulations alone cannot stop perpetrators if the regulators are silenced by the very constitution they are called to uphold.

Too often, the rule of law is constitutionally manipulated into being a tool for personal gain, restricting freedom of expression to retain political authority. As I recognise a sense of oppression in my country, I realise the anachronistic nature of our laws. At university, I aim to understand what makes or breaks the rule of law, acquiring necessary knowledge and intellectual dexterity to empower and reform Malaysia’s constitution.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Law Personal Statement

The writer is currently a first year undergraduate reading LLB Law at the London School of Economics. This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to LSE, Queen Mary University and University of Nottingham for Law.

The ambition to provide the poorest man a wealthier life is a noble one, but defining it by racial preference is Malaysia’s shameful mistake. Affirmative action, favouring its 68.6% Bumi population has provided property purchase discounts and permitted reservations into state universities, the civil service and public share offerings via the New Economic Policy since the 1970s. This contravention of equal protection enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution precipitates institutional socioeconomic segregation. Being a beneficiary by virtue of race prompts me to question its fairness towards my non-Bumi compatriots who virtually hold a second-class citizenship.

I witnessed the rise of Bersih, a democratic protest whereby its 150,000 members expressed concerns about balancing the need for special privileges with minority rights within the Malaysian Constitution. I was appalled that the freedom of protesters to question Article 153 was criminalised under the Sedition Act with allegations of seditious tendencies and exciting disaffection. This ambiguous and subjective definition grants the executive discretion for arbitrary enforcement, as with the onerously regulated media and removal of the Attorney-General and Parliamentary Accounts Committee chairman investigating the siphoning of 700 million USD from Malaysia’s developmental fund 1MDB sitting in private accounts of its chief officers. The power to exercise judicial reviews in Marbury v Madison has been limited by abuse, eroding the credibility of the court to independently uphold the rule of law that Bingham implies is of democratic importance. Montesquieu promotes that a despot emerges when the three institutions of the state are under executive control and in this quasi-democracy which inherited English common laws, the public now fear its manifestation. The protection against exploitation of the written constitution and human rights is what led me to law.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir justifies Article 153 in ‘The Malay Dilemma’ by referring to years of discrimination during the colonial era. Intrigued by when affirmative action should be limited, I compared the Equality Act in the UK that legally protects people against preferential treatment with Malaysia’s practice of utilitarianism. Although the greatest good is for the greatest number, a review should be insisted when it compromises the universal basic rights of equality. The World Policy Journal reports that millions of non-Bumi migrate or deviate from government sectors to avoid prejudice forced through structural disenfranchisement. Hence, I refer to Portia in Antonio’s trial, that this conflict of law and equity should be resolved through considerations of mercy and fairness in its administration. Whether it is criminal, constitutional or property, law holds a significant role in the protection of human dignity, one that should not be subverted for personal gain.The misuse of power, compounded by lack of freedom, calls for a nobler form of justice. I aspire to learn how lawyers challenge legal decisions and push the judiciary to interpret the law contrary to one amended by the powers that be.

My debating experience has exposed me to similar social, political and economic illnesses which occur between persons and governments. Learning to construct and destruct arguments while defending unorthodox stances through discourse is important but what I look forward to at university is to practically address these problems with legal interpretation. Being a Central Bank scholar gives me a platform in its legal department to practice this knowledge and advocate constitutional liberalism whilst attempting to review and mend draconian laws in the future.

Some Malaysians can withstand the lack of transparency, judicial power and equal rights while others feel defeated. Studying law will aid me prevent the loss of confidence in it and contribute to society by upholding the protection of civil liberties.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Life@Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar – A-level

KTJ Front

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 Naturally boarding school may sound like an unnerving idea to many. Vague notions of having to live away from home for the very first time and to become independent in such a short span of time certainly sound daunting. The reality of things at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) is far different.

Let’s look at some of the general aspects of KTJ as a school before focusing in on the aspects that would interest you as an A-Level Student. This article won’t focus much on the facilities and specifications of the school as you can glean all this information from the school’s website. What I will attempt to do is to provide you an insight from my point of view as a student in KTJ’s Sixth Form.

Students are assigned a boarding house, which is where they will stay for the entire duration of their course. There are 4 boys boarding houses and 3 girls boarding houses, along with one junior (Form 1-3) boarding house. Students in the Lower Sixth will often share a room with another person while most Upper Sixth students will get a single room. Most students love their boarding house and build strong bonds with others within the houses. It will also represent the sports house that you compete in throughout your time at KTJ.

Classes at KTJ start between 0800-0830 depending on the day and consist of eight 40 minute lessons. Students in the Sixth Form will have a number of periods depending on their subject choices as well as the intake that they join. Students in the January intake generally will have less free periods as the teaching has to be more compact due to the shorter duration of the course.

Meals are served in the dining hall daily. There is breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. Both Asian and Western cuisines are served during the 3 main meals and a vegetarian option is always available. There is a daily panini station with alternating fillings such as chicken and lamb. On most days there will be a noodle station serving local favourites as well as a grill on alternate days. Sunday is an exception where brunch and dinner are served. A typical brunch will comprise of things like pasta, roti canai, salmon steak, lamb, croissants and many other options. If you still find yourself hungry, there is a ‘Tuck Shop’ open at night during social hour (2045-2115) where you will be able to purchase additional food. All the boarding houses also have a limited pantry where you will be able to make simple things like instant noodles and soups.

The following paragraphs will mainly be relevant towards students who will be in the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth forms while they are undertaking their A-Level course.

  1. The Academic Life

A focus on academics forms an integral part of the KTJ Sixth Form Experience. A combination of CIE A-Levels and EDEXCEL A-Levels are available at KTJ. Students will typically take between 3-4 AS Levels with some choosing to continue on with only 3 subjects for the A2 Level Examinations and others sitting for all 4. A broad combination of subjects is available for example; Mathematics, Further Mathematics, History, English Literature, Economics, Chemistry, Physics, Art, Music, Biology and Geography. The subjects are generally organised into ‘blocks’ giving students the ability to have numerous diverse combinations. If you’d like to know more about the combinations I’d recommend you visit the following link: The teachers are extremely dedicated at KTJ and go the extra mile in ensuring that students are able to excel in their chosen subject combinations. There is a dedicated Sixth Form computer room with printing facilities that oftentimes comes in handy when one is revising. The CIE Examinations are offered in both the Summer and Winter sessions whereas the EDEXCEL ones are only offered in Summer. During the weekdays and on Sundays there are two ‘prep’ sessions which you are supposed to use to study productively. These are extremely beneficial as they get you into the habit of not leaving everything to the last minute and ensuring that you do something productive daily. I have found that they greatly relieve the stress that is felt as the examinations approach as you have done most of the necessary revision weeks in advance. Science practicals are usually held weekly in preparations for the practical component of the Science A-Level examinations. There are dedicated laboratories for each subject that are fully equipped.

  1. The Social Life

The social life at KTJ is an interesting one mainly due to it being a boarding school. You are able to get to know your friends much better here since you spend the whole day with them hence forming the very tight-knit community. The vast number of clubs, sports and societies allow you to meet many people with similar interests and build lasting friendships. Sixth Form Students are allowed day outings over the weekend and will have to return to school before a stipulated time. It’s undoubtedly different from other schools as you won’t have the freedom to leave school whenever you wish but this has never been an issue for me. You will always find something to do as a result of all the activities that are planned, something that I will elaborate further in the next few posts. It really helps you in preparing for your future at a university as you learn to interact with people of all ages in the boarding houses and throughout the day. An induction program is also organised for all students entering the sixth form to introduce them to the school and introduce them to their course-mates.

  1. Extra-Curricular Activities

The opportunities to involve yourself in ECAs is immense at KTJ. From wall-climbing to public speaking and debating to golf, KTJ has it all! There are numerous clubs and sports that meet up daily during the fixed ECA slots from 3.50-4.50pm and 5.00pm – 6.00pm. It’s a great opportunity to pick up new skills or even take your skills to the next level. There are numerous fields that facilitate hockey, football, rugby and basketball. There are even opportunities for students to start their own clubs should if an activity they are passionate about is unavailable at KTJ, recent examples being volleyball and an Anime club. It’s definitely indispensable in achieving a holistic education. There are frequent inter-house competitions not only in the usual sporting events but the Arts as well. ‘House Singing’ and ‘House Drama’ are events that many students look forward to. If you’d like to know more, just visit KTJ’s YouTube page! Some of the main sporting events include the Cross-Country Run, Swimming Gala, Athletics events, Interhouse Rugby, Football and Hockey. There’s a never ending list of available opportunities to pursue at KTJ and if you do indeed come here, make sure you take full advantage of all the opportunities at KTJ. There are also excellent leadership opportunities in KTJ, be it the Sixth Form Committee, Prefects’ Board, Student Council, or the BOD of the societies and clubs. All of these roles will be very beneficial to you as an individual in honing the skills that you are required to equip yourself with in life. My personal favourite societies are the KTJ Debate Union (also the current CollegeLAH Director’s favourite) and Forensics Society!

  1. University Application Support

I can’t comment on the application support that students experience while applying to the US, Canada and Australia as I haven’t undergone the process myself. Focusing on the UK applications, KTJ has a dedicated Sixth Form Team that will assist and advise you throughout your time in the Sixth Form. Representatives from universities such as the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University College London (UCL) have visited KTJ over the last year to provide information to prospective students. It’s a unique opportunity for you to be able to communicate with the universities that you are looking forward to applying to as it gives you the option to resolve all the doubts and questions that you have. There is a great level of support in helping you get to university not only from your teachers but your seniors as well. They have undergone the applications process and are in a great position to be able to advise you not only on university choices, but also with wider reading for your subject choice. There is often practice for university admissions tests such as the UKCAT and LNAT Examinations. Guidance is also provided to individuals who are required to submit additional forms as part of their university application. Besides that, mock interviews are organised for students who have been invited to an interview, usually for Oxbridge. Starting this year, the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is being offered for those taking their A-Levels.

KTJ is not like a school to me, it’s way more than that. It’s like a home away from home. The best way for you to gauge a school would be to come for a tour and see it first hand! I do hope that you consider applying to KTJ for your A-Levels and that you will enjoy it like I do. There will be an Open Day coming up on the 27th of February 2016 for those of you who’d like to see more of the school. Check out the KTJ Facebook Page for more details;

Imran Debating

Imran Mateo joined the Sixth Form in KTJ in 2014. He hopes to pursue a degree in Law in the United Kingdom. You are most likely to find him at a Debate Competition.

BNM Kijang Scholarship (January Intake)

Sasana Kijang

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

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

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

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

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

1) Dimensions (Personality)

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

2) Elements (Verbal)

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

3) Elements (Numerical)

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

4) Elements (Logical)

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

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

1st Day:

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

2nd Day:

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

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

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

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

3rd Day:

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

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

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

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

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




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


Pre-U Subject Choices for UK-Bound Students

Earlier this year, the Russell Group published their 2015/16 “Informed Choice” pamphlet, accompanied by a video, explaining the value and importance of taking facilitating subjects as a dominant part of a student’s Pre-U subject choices. These facilitating subjects, e.g. the sciences, history, maths, further maths, languages, English Literature and geography, as the lobbying group for the 24 research-intensive universities characterised, open up a wide range of options for university entries and career choices. Indeed, across the Russell Group universities and more specifically the top echelon of this group e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, facilitating subjects go far more than mere “opening up wide options”. Their “preferred subjects” reflect their umbrella group’s facilitating subjects, albeit with more restrictions and are seen as subjects to rigorously formulate the skills necessary for different courses at their universities. LSE and certain colleges of Oxford and Cambridge openly publish a list of preferred and non-preferred subjects. Generally, non-traditional ones such as accounting, business studies, sociology fall into the latter group. Indeed, reading the Russell Group’s “Informed Choice” pamphlet and watching their videos will immediately kick this question into your mind – “Why does this seem so aloof of the Malaysian context?” Very clearly, “Informed Choice” is meant for the British audience. Malaysian schools/colleges are shaped very differently, likewise the subjects they offer and the normative biases that parents, peers and teachers tend to have.


Where should I start?

Generally, you will have to consider three things – the prerequisite subjects that your preferred courses have, the preferences your universities/courses have and whether or not you will be able immerse yourself into the joyous journey of learning the subject. While the first two are technically important criteria that you should never forsake, the last one tend to be underrated. I cannot stress how important that is, given that you will be spending more than a year studying that subject, dedicating your soul to the devil just to go to university. You might as well just murder yourself over a subject that you will enjoy.

Let’s deal with the bits where you’re faced with a Hobson’s choice i.e. the first two criteria are relatively simple to fulfil. Go on to the websites of the courses that you are applying to and take note of the required and suggested subjects. For instance, Physics at Oxford requires applicants to have studied Maths and Physics at Pre-University level and likewise, Medicine at Edinburgh will require Chemistry and Biology. In the “Informed Choice” pamphlet, though insufficient and inadequate, there is a generalised list of prerequisites for commonly applied courses. These are essential subjects that you must take to be considered by your prospective universities.

Figuring out which subjects are not preferred by your course also follows a similar approach. Though most universities will not make it explicitly clear that they don’t prefer certain subjects, Cambridge and LSE definitely publishes their own non-exhaustive list. Nonetheless, their list generally applies to the other Russell Group universities, having all collectively expressed that they prefer at least 2 facilitative subjects before releasing their first series of “Informed Choice” guidelines. There are, however, caveats regarding this. The most competitive courses and universities tend to prefer applicants not to have any “soft” subjects e.g. media studies, accounting (even for accounting applicants), law (yes, for law applicants as well) at all. Keep in mind that while not all non-facilitative subjects are soft subjects, all soft subjects are non-facilitative. Indeed, there is hardly any strict definitions of what soft and hard subjects are but the generic implication is that hard subjects formulate the core skills that are useful in undergraduate study rather than specific skills that soft subjects tend to train. Another generalisation that you can take note of is that traditional subjects such as economics, the hard sciences, maths and the ones in the list of facilitative subjects are also considered to be hard subjects. Moreover, there are some statistical backing to this preference. In 2008, Durham University ran a study on the relative difficulty of different A-level subjects and there was an obvious trend that across all 5 statistical models used, “traditional” and facilitative subjects tend to be harder than otherwise. Though more than half a decade ago, deviations hardly were significant across years.

The last bit is fairly straightforward at face value, choose the subjects that you will actually enjoy. Of course, if you’re eyeing on the more competitive universities e.g. Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial, look only at the traditional/hard subjects. However, considering the different circumstances UK-bound Malaysians can be in – being enrolled in a college/school with limited, bundled subject choices, restricted by IBDP requirements or simply limited by the choices available via STPM/Matrikulasi, this is a tricky question to answer.


In the foreseeable future, accessible Malaysian schools/colleges are probably not going to teach subjects like Latin, politics, geography, history and classical studies. And you have just told me that I shouldn’t take accounting, business studies, law and a whole lot of subjects that are bundled together. Just what subjects should I take?

Indeed, unless you have the luck and privilege of being admitted to the more resourceful schools such as KTJ, KYUEM or ISKL, your choices of subjects will be restricted. For one, elite schools like these offer almost every traditional subjects there is, including A-level Geography, Music, History and IB French, German etc. If you are in schools of this sort, you don’t have any problems. Just choose the traditional subjects that you will enjoy and are related to the course that you want to further your studies in. Elsewhere across the board, the hard sciences and maths are often bundled together in for A-level, Matrikulasi colleges and STPM schools. The problem begins for students who wish to take on the social sciences/humanities in competitive universities. Often, traditional humanities/social sciences are bundled together with non-traditional ones e.g. “English Literature, Sociology, Law”, “Economics, Maths, Accounting, Business Studies” for A level, “General Studies, Accounting, Economics and Maths” for STPM.

Under these restrictions, it is important to recall that the social sciences and humanities often don’t require a stringent traditional social sciences/humanities subject combination at pre-university. History degrees don’t even need history as a prerequisite and would see English Literature as an indication of having the sufficient skills to cope with such a reading and writing-heavy subject. Likewise, economics only required maths. Given that, it is perfectly fine filling up the rest of your subject spots with the sciences or any other available traditional subject. Keep in mind that if you are not eyeing at the most difficult universities, it is alright to take the bare minimum of 2 traditional and/or facilitative subjects that the Russell Group universities collectively prefer. Given that, a subject combination such as “Economics, Maths, Further Math, Physics” will work for economics, accounting and similar subjects while “Maths, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature” seems adequate for law, history and accounting.  It is unlikely for IB students to face this problem, making it almost uniquely one for A-level, Matrikulasi and STPM students.

For the latter, where schools tend to be inflexible and under-resourced in terms of subject choices, it is perfectly fine writing to the universities themselves when applying, explaining the restrictive circumstances you are in. Of course, it is unreasonable to make someone who wants to apply for a history course to take a full “Sejarah, English Literature, Ekonomi” combination where that combination is unlikely to exist except in the more resourced urban schools. Likewise, expecting a Matrikulasi student to take that subject combination is also unreasonable given that it doesn’t exist. On top of explaining about the circumstances you are in to the universities, your UCAS personal statement should then be able to immensely display your academic potential in the course that you are applying. In that case, just take whatever that’s available to you e.g. “Science Stream” or “Accounting Stream”; it’s another Hobson’s choice.


Wait, just to be clear, you’re saying that even if I want to be a lawyer, accountant or business manager, I shouldn’t be taking law, accounting and/or business studies if possible? What about taking economics and business studies together?

The short and perhaps, grim, answers are yes and no respectively.

As explained earlier, the three subjects listed in the first question i.e. law, accounting and business studies are soft subjects. They should only be taken, at best, an additional subject. For applicants to the most competitive universities, just avoid them. Lawyers don’t need to do law at A-level (I doubt this subject is an option for other examinations). In fact, building the core analytical and writing skills via a mixture of essay subjects e.g. Literature, History, the social sciences and/or the hard sciences tend to be more preferable at university. Likewise, building up the quantitative, analytical and thinking skills via a mixture of traditional social sciences, mathematics and hard sciences would be more preferable and helpful.

For the second question, economics and business studies are considered to be overlapping subjects. However, economics is a traditional subject while business studies isn’t. Given that, you should either take economics and ditch business studies or take business studies as an additional subject and ditch economics. Generally, however, where economics is available as an option at your school/college, taking business studies isn’t a wise option. For instance, LSE explicitly has this preference.


Just what if I have no idea what do I want to study at university?

That then depends on the extent of uncertainty that you have. We will use a scale with 3 spectrums here – “I can’t decide between studying course A and B”, “I know that I want to study something in, per se, the humanities but I have yet to settle on a particular course” and “I have absolutely no idea”. Notice that this is a more in depth dilemma for A-level students given the immense options that they have. For IBDP, STPM and Matrikulasi students, choosing your subjects along these principles will do.

For the first one on the scale – “I can’t decide between studying course A and B”, it shouldn’t be highly difficult to take up subjects that fulfil the needs of both courses. Of course, this is under the assumption that there are some significant differences between them e.g. PPE and Medicine. Notice that these two are rather extreme but it is not impossible to take up, for instance, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and also History; of course, taking physics as well would be good and it is unlikely that your uncertainty will persist for more than 3 months, whereby thereafter you can drop the more unrelated subject. For more similar choices such as PPE and Economics or Chemical Engineering and Physics, incorporating the needs of both subjects won’t be difficult e.g. English Lit/History, Economics, Maths and Further Maths fulfil the former while a standard Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths combination works for the latter.

Moving up the scale and we find ourselves in a situation where a student only managed to narrow down to one particular field. The key idea then is to take up traditional and facilitating subjects within that particular field. It is perfectly fine going cross-disciplinary e.g. a mixture of social science, humanities and sciences as long as the field that you wish to be in is reflected in your subject choices. Applicants who might be set on the social sciences but unsure of which particular course to further their studies in might be interested in taking a quantitatively analytical subject e.g. maths and economics, coupled with another more qualitative one e.g. geography to cater for the less quantitative-centric social science courses. On the contrary, while it is generally normal alright to apply for the more maths intensive science subjects e.g. Physics, Engineering with a full natural science with maths combination, that is hardly optimal. The best solution is to decide as soon as possible, preferably within a 3-month period.

Lastly, for the “I have absolute no idea what I want to further my studies in” students who will have a seriously difficult time figuring out which subject combination will be best. The issue with most standardised qualifications is that your options are generally restricted. As per mentioned earlier, you should be deciding as soon as possible before finalising your subject choices, optimally within a 3-month period of starting your course, so that you will be able to catch up with the work done by your possibly new classmates. Generally, in terms of subjects, the idea is to have a mixture of subjects from different fields. Although conventional wisdom is that taking a pure natural science plus maths combination opens up all doors, that isn’t necessarily the case. Most of the humanities and some social science courses will want to see indication of academic writing and reading capability, from which subjects like English Literature, History and the Languages can indicate. Given that, start off with a mixture and then narrow down your course choices and Pre-U subject choices as soon as possible.


So is this the holy book that I must follow?

No, this article is entirely advisory and based on the team’s research, experience and access to various sources of information.

Written by: The CollegeLAH Team

Law Personal Statement 3

Shaun Kua read Law (Jurisprudence) and graduated from the University of Oxford. This personal statement was part of his successful admission to the University of Oxford, University College London (UCL), King’s College London (KCL), and University of Exeter. He also claims that in hindsight, if he was given a chance to reapply for universities, he will not take the same unorthodox approach in writing his personal statement.

A disclaimer: I am not one of those whose legal ambitions coalesced in the early days of his childhood.

I confess, I only ever wanted to do Law, since the good fortune (or misfortune) of being elected President of the Students’ Council in my secondary school. If I had to describe my presidency, being the “bridge between the students and the School was like tiptoeing on a tightrope. Between two skyscrapers. During a hurricane. My rock was the students’ insistence on changes to school policy, my hard place – the persistence of the School Management with the lack thereof. Did I consider resignation? Of course. Did I resign? No. Why? Because I had the rare honour of reaching out to and sharing in the ideas of the foremost, most eminent ne’er-do-wells, rebels-without-cause and all-round no-good troublemakers of my alma mater. Undoubtedly, some of their opinions, more often than not, differed greatly from my own, much less the ideals held by the Management. But, when some of our initiatives ran into crippling opposition from the Management, their wholly unexpected enthusiasm reminded us to push on. It sparked the realization that championing this alternative perspective is where the Council had to make a difference, igniting my desire to continue giving such views a fair hearing as an adult.Yet to be fair, formulating school rules and regulations is never easy. School rules are the product of an explosively violent laboratory reaction between theory and practice. They essentially prescribe the School’s ideals, and yet paradoxically must take into account purely descriptive realities, say, practicalities of student life, so as to remain reasonable and thus valid. At this juncture, I must also give due credit to Mr. Hobbes, Mr. Locke, Mr. Kant and Mr. Bentham for influencing my views, individuals I became acquainted with over the course of three years in Lincoln-Douglas debate (though there were times when Kant was simply befuddling) They were of great assistance to me in Model United Nations (MUN), when I had to formulate practical solutions to complex real-world situations (they just had to assign me the United States, on Afghanistan and Iraq). Let’s hope the debaters and MUN delegates I coached in my school and college years felt the same way.

Returning to Law, I maintain that school policy and the law are similar, if not the same, in essence. They are the imposition of the ideals of a higher authority to human behaviour. Very interesting. Of course, I run the risk of presuming too much about the nature of the law. Perhaps for that reason, I am not too insane to spend three weeks of my glorious summer attaching at two reputable (read: exhausting) law firms in Kuala Lumpur. An example of a naive assumption of mine being shattered by the realities of the office would be that lawyers had shorter working hours than doctors (law firms are just better than hospitals at putting fine print into human resource advertising). Indeed, this profession is one of pure passion, a notion I try to drill into the malleable minds of my juniors in the Law Society of my college, slightly disappointing perhaps, but at least one unclouded by “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”. In conclusion, I find the study of law to be in a comfortable position of praxis, as compared to philosophy (too wishful) and political science (too apathetic). If I found such fascinating complexity in the omnipresence (not necessarily good) and omnipotence (assumed) of school policy, I believe I will find the same or even more in the law. Of course, similarly, I hope to gain the same emotional fulfilment of advocating for the silent in court or in the boardroom.

About the Author: He enjoys reading richly-written novels, devising contrived birthday present schemes, getting lost in Wikipedia and jogging, in his free time.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Law Personal Statement 2

This Personal Statement is part of this student’s successful admission to study Law in the University of Cambridge, University of Warwick and University of Manchester.

My interest to read Law was sparked by my involvement in debate competitions. I revel in the logical reasoning and critical thinking needed during the preparation. I realised that there are endless possibilities on how to examine an issue. Besides, I relish the moment when I have to respond instantly with a coherent argument to defend my standpoint. In fact, I was named as best debater several times and won the National Level Chinese Parliamentary Debate Competition in 2011. These enjoyable experiences, both during preparation and discourse, made me consider pursuing a Law degree.

Subsequently, I did some reading to discover more about Law. ‘Learning the Law’ and ‘What about Law? Studying Law at University’ were particularly enlightening. I ascertained that Law is constantly dealing with abstract issues, which requires students to think critically and logically. Law also fascinates me as I learned that its impact on society can be stupendous. My attention was caught by Public Law, which has far-reaching implications to society. Thus, besides the seven core subjects needed for legal practice, I would like to explore other Public Law related subjects in order to elucidate the relationship between Law and the development of society.

Aspiring to build a better foundation for the study of Law, I switched to an English-medium pre-university course and focused on social science subjects which I hardly came across previously. I wish to improve my English as well as explore the social sciences which are highly associated with Law. The transition was indeed a big challenge. However, I am glad that I made this decision because it prompted me to move beyond my limitations and expand my academic boundaries.

I also did an attachment in a law firm in pursuance of gaining practical experience in the legal world. On the first day, I was asked to draft a written submission. I was surprised at first as I had no prior legal knowledge. Nevertheless, I regarded this as an opportunity to perceive the reality of legal practice. I endeavoured to understand the overall picture of the case besides paying attention to details. I applied my analytical skills and logical thinking to distinguish the facts cautiously when researching for authorities to support my argument. Eventually, I was able to submit it and received favourable comments. I realised that I should never underestimate my potential or be deterred by the hurdles in front of me. Having vision and action will push me to the furthest that I can go.

As the President of Law Society at my college, I have initiated and organised a moot competition. This experience enabled me to embrace the legal domain from a different perspective. Preparing the moot problem and selecting cases for participants were a unique experience. Lots of research was needed beforehand in order to come up with an unbiased moot problem. During the preparation, I realised that Law is constantly changing and varies between countries. Furthermore, my position as the editor of the global section in my college newspaper requires me to be acquainted with current issues.

I envisage myself continuing to read Law after completing my degree. I would like to become an academic and contribute to the legal domain. It seems to me that being a legal practitioner is more about applying the Law, but being an academic will enable me to influence and shape the future development of Law, not only through research, but through educating the future generations as well.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Law at University Malaya


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Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you going, and are you under a sponsorship? What courses and which universities did you apply to?

Hello there! I am a National Scholar who’s going to read law at Universiti Malaya.

What was included in the application process to your university?

Basically, the application process is completed through the UPU portal. You just have to key in your info as required.

Link to the UPU portal:

Is there anything specific to your application (supplements, etc)? If yes, how were they?

No supplements involved.

What did you include your personal statement/essay(s)?

No personal statement for local university applications.

Did you have to take any tests?  If so, how did you find the test? How did you prepare for it? In your opinion, what are some of the tips & techniques to get a good score in the tests?

Yes, I had to take the MUET (Malaysian University English Test) and do self-revision with books available in the market. It is a good way to test your level of English as compared to the SPM because this is a totally different system which analyses your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. If your English is good in certain areas of the test but not all, you just have to work on them.

About the MUET:

MUET registration:

How was the interview session (if any)? What were the questions asked (if you still remember). Was it a group or individual interview? How was the atmosphere? Was it one-sided with the interviewer asking only or was it a discussion? Was it friendly, tense, awkward etc? How did you prepare for the interview?

Yes, there was an interview session. It would be absurd if I can still remember the interview questions at this point of time. It was an individual interview. The atmosphere depends on the interviewee him/herself. Not everyone will experience the same atmosphere, be it excitement, anxiety, suspense or whatever one might feel at that time. The interviewers for my batch were friendly people, that’s all I would say, as there were so many of us having different interviewers for different faculties. There is no particular recipe in preparing for an interview. You just have to keep calm, be yourself, and carry on with the interview – that’s how I felt.

What do you think contributed to the success of your application? What are some of the past experiences/ ECA/ work attachment/ academic achievements that you included in your personal statement/ essays/ interview/ test?

All I can say is that I thank the Senate for accepting me.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

My advice: Just do it. It is the same for a job or anything else that you want to do in the future.

Erique Phang Li-Onn

Erique Phang Li-Onn is a commerce student who is heading to Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur to read law under the National Scholarship by JPA. He is an insane otaku who attaches himself very closely to the spiritual world.