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

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

PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP)

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

How to Apply

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

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

3.       Select your intended major and country of study.

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

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

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

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

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

Interview process

First round

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

Second round

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

·         Discussion and presentation on a whiteboard as a group

·         Atmosphere

–          Relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         Introduce a mascot for branding

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

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

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

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

One piece of advice

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

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

Advice for the interview

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

1.       Research about Petronas beforehand

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

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

2.      Prepare questions to ask if possible

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

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

3.       Smile widely (Keep smiling!)

4.       Be kind but argumentative

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

5.       Give your most creative ideas

6.       Be specific and realistic

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

Other resources

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

Articles about Interview Process that I found insightful




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

Petronas Scholarship


Image Source

Overview of PESP

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

Stages involved in the scholarship application

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

Atmosphere at the interview

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


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

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