JPA National Scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship


Image Source

What’s NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship?

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

Cool! How do I apply?

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

So, what did you write about?

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

Ok! What’s after that?

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

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

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

Any last advice for future applicants?

Have faith in yourself and don’t stop believing!

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

Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Programme


Image Source

First stage

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

Second Stage

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

Third Stage

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

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

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

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

Fourth stage

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

Fifth stage

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

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

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


Belinda Lee

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


BNM Kijang Scholarship (January Intake)

Sasana Kijang

Image Source

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.


CollegeLAH’s Guide to Using Common App

Creating your CommonApp account

  • Go to and click on “Create An Account”
  • Fill in your email address and create a password. Note that the password must be between 8-16 characters, containing at least an upper case alphabetic letter, one numeric character, and a symbol (!@#$%^&*).

1 login page

2 keying in password

  • Fill in your details and click on I am a(n): “Applicant planning to enroll within the next 12 months”.
  • Tick both boxes and click on “Create” to create your brand new CommonApp account.

3 creating account

  • Once you are logged in, you are able to view your Dashboard and your full CommonApp Account.


Your CommonApp Account

4 dashboard

  • Your CommonApp Account is separated into four main functions: Dashboard, My Colleges, Common App, and College Search.
  • Dashboard: The Dashboard is the central monitor to your applications. Once you have added colleges to your applications, you will be able to view them on the dashboard, showing you the deadlines, requirements and your progress.
  • My Colleges: The My Colleges tab shows the colleges that you have added into your account. You will complete your work for each college here. Some colleges will require extra essays or questionnaires answered. As these might vary depending on the different faculties/schools within the college that you are applying to, they will appear only appear after you have completed the “Questions” section.
  • Common App: Your Common application. Here, you will fill up relevant details for your application, from your profile, educational background, SAT/TOEFL/ACT test results to your dreaded Common App Essay.
  • College Search: College Search allows you to search for colleges/universities by different criteria, i.e. by name, country, state, term, applicant type or deadline. You may also perform multiple searches by separating terms with a comma, i.e. Boston, New York, etc.

5 college search

6 adding college


The Common Application

7 personal info



This is the part where you fill in everything about yourself – name, address, contact details, demographics, geography, languages, citizenship, scholarship information, and common app fee waiver. It provides the most basic understanding of who you are to the admission officers. Most of this section is very straightforward but we will clarify the bits that might not be.

Scholarship information – This is a new feature that allows you to apply to scholarships that use the Scholar Snapp platform. Basically, it’s a “Common App” for scholarships. These can be scholarships offered by external organisations.

Read more about Scholar Snapp here:

Common App Fee Waiver – Nothing is this world is free. Likewise, applying via Common App costs money as well. However, if you think that you face sufficient financial difficulties such that you might be unable to afford the application fees, then you can apply for the fee waiver. Your counsellor will be contacted to provide evidence of financial difficulties so don’t try to cheat.



This is a relatively straightforward section, where you are required to fill in information about your family background. It is divided into 4 subsections: Household, Parent 1, Parent 2, and Sibling. You will need their basic information such as name, age, occupation, country of birth, education level etc.



This is where things get gradually less straightforward. You will provide your educational information here, from secondary school to your Pre-U studies. Here’s a clarification that will be useful for most readers here, especially if you’re from Malaysia. Even if you are enrolled in, for instance, Taylor’s College, KDU, Taylor’s University (ADTP), INTI University, you are indeed still in school. Likewise, the terms “college” and “university” are interchangeable in the USA i.e. Taylor’s College is not a college but a school while Bates College is a university and/or a college.

Current or Most Recent School: Unless you’re studying at a school in the USA or US Territories, your school might not be listed here. Search for your school’s name and if it does not appear, select “I don’t see my high school on this list”. Likewise, if you are homeschooled, select the “I am/was homeschooled” option. If you’re studying in an American-styled school, you should have a designated school counsellor. Otherwise, this can be any teacher or academic staff member who has good knowledge and understanding of the non-academic aspects of you. Therefore, it is entirely up to you whether you want a teacher from your secondary school or one from your pre-U school to be your counsellor. Common App references are significantly different from what usual Malaysian references would be, so be sure that your counsellor knows about the writing style.

Other School: If you are doing your Pre-University education in a different institution as compared to your secondary school, you will need to fill up this subsection. Just do exactly the same as the previous step for each High School you have attended. That said, please do not key in your primary school and kindergarten. Likewise, given that High School means the schools where you did SPM/IGCSE till IBDP/A-level/STPM/Matrikulasi/AP, please do not include your PMR school if it was different than the one you did your SPM/IGCSE at. Otherwise, please do.

Community-Based Organization: If any of these organisations helped you with your Common App application, then do declare them. These are generally non-profit organisations that are representative of particular civil societies e.g. Black communities, underprivileged suburban children.

Education Interruption: If you are finishing your Pre-University studies later than scheduled, please declare it in this subsection. Otherwise, tick “I have no interruption to report.”

College & Universities: If you have completed a university level course, be it online or through a physical college, fill up this subsection. For the occasional Singaporeans who might be reading this, declare your H3 Subjects here. Likewise, if you have completed an actual uni/college level course, declare here. Please keep in mind that your Pre-University education (A-level, IBDP, STPM, Matrikulasi, AP) does not count here.

Grades: There are 4 options under the class rank reporting, mainly

1) Exact: For instance, 53 out of 187 (187 will be filled in under “class size”)
2) Decile: Top 10%, 20%, 30% …  
3) Quintile: Top 20%, 40% .., 80%
4) Quartile: Top 25%, 50% … and so on.

If you are on a Pre-U programme that does not use GPA/CGPAs (A-level, IBDP), leave the relevant sections blank. Likewise, if you’re doing Matrikulasi or STPM, declare your CGPA as well as the GPA scale (‘4’ for STPM, Matrikulasi etc.) Whether or not your GPA is weighted depends on this question – do all contributing subjects/modules/aspects have the same individual contribution to your GPA? If your answer is no, then your GPA is probably weighted.

Current or Most Recent Year Courses: This is where you declare your Pre-University subjects as well as your Year 11 subjects (SPM, IGCSE etc). In other words, A-level History counts as one course, STPM Ekonomi counts as one course.

Honors: If you have won awards, competitions or scholarships, declare them here. Important point to note here is the grading system, Grade 9 refers to Form 4 and equivalent, Grade 10 being SPM/IGCSE while Grade 11 refers to your AS-level. Intuitively, Grade 12 is your A-level/IBDP/STPM. The exception here then is that if your pre-U course lasts only a year e.g. Australian year 12, SAM, Matrikulasi. In that case, Grade 12 refers to that and Grade 11 refers to IGCSE etc. Basically, it all depends on the number of academic years your Pre-U studies contribute to. PG generally applies to those who undertook gap years.

Future Plans: Write about your future career plans and highest degree you intend to earn here.



Test Taken: Check ‘yes’ to self-report your SAT, SAT II, IELTS, TOEFL, IB, A-levels scores. You should list all tests that you expect to take and have already taken.

If you have taken courses such as SPM, STPM, IGCSE, IB Middle or IBDP, elect ‘yes’ for the last column with the prompt: “Is promotion within your education system based upon standard leaving examinations by a state or national leaving examinations board?” Do note that if you took AP, you do not have to check this box.

Senior Secondary Leaving Examinations: If you check ‘yes’, a new section indicating “Senior Secondary Leaving Examinations” comes up. For each test chosen, another column will appear; this is where you should fill in the specifics of each test. This means that if you have already sat for your A-level, IBDP, STPM, then tick “yes” and fill up accordingly. For most, who are still studying for the actual examinations, tick “no”.



After indicating ‘yes’, you have a maximum of 10 columns for you to fill in all activities. You’re given a maximum of 50 characters to state the name of the activity, and another 150 characters to describe the activity. Once again, an important note on the grade level system, intuitively, Grade 12 refers to A-level/IBDP/STPM. If you are taking a gap year after your Pre-University studies, any activities done after graduation comes under “Post-Graduate”. For sports specifically, if you are in your school/state/national team, then you are involved in Varsity/JV sports. If you are not in the main team i.e. reserve, secondary or development team, then you are in JV.

For example:

Music Club – Founding President

Spearheaded 2 national music concerts; raised $10,000+ for the Malaysian Elderly Association. Honed leadership skills working with 60 members.  (142 characters)

Keep your description concise to minimize character count and convey your message clearly.

Do note that the activities included here are assumed to be the most important and relevant since Year 9. It is important to arrange the activities in order of relative importance to you and your application. Feel free to include any previous or current jobs.

You might want to consider carefully which activities to include as this section is vital in portraying who you are both as a student and as a person. It is highly recommended that you state activities that you are interested in continuing in university. You may include hobbies only if these are relevant and if you feel that you have gained a lot from these activities.



Personal Essay

You have a choice of 5 questions to choose from. Choose one from the list below:

8 essay prompts

Our advice would be to briefly write down the main outline of your response to each question. With this in mind, you can roughly compare the quality of your responses across all questions. Try not to overthink the process; choose the essay that gives you the right platform to best express yourself.

That being said, essays about everyday activities and/or volunteering work might be deemed mundane by the admission officers, unless you’re able to write creatively about the topic, or if you feel that your application will be incomplete without that particular story to reflect who you are. Ultimately, this is where you have the opportunity to showcase your unique identity and personality.

Here’s a link to another article on CollegeLAH about writing US essays.


Disciplinary History

Honesty is the best policy! Do not be afraid if you have a tainted disciplinary record. This does not mean that you will be rejected solely based on this.


Additional Information

It is not necessarily the case that your application would be in any way disadvantaged if this section is left unfilled. If there is nothing else to add, there is no need to include unnecessary details.

However, if you do wish to include additional information, here are examples of what could be added:

1) Description of the 11th extremely important activity (because you can only write about 10 activities in the previous section)

2) Clarification of extenuating circumstances –
“Took a gap year after Year 11 because …”
“SAT scores were unusually poor because…”
“Discontinued a music syllabus after Year 10 because…”

3) Information regarding yourself that you think the application will not be complete without

However, please do not continue your unfinished essay here.

Congratulations on completing this CommonApp section!


College Essays

Hurray! Don’t be too happy yet, this is not the end of your application to the States. Colleges/Universities have more questionnaires for you to answer. Most will also have extra essays, known as supplementary essays. That means more essays to write! Fret not, CollegeLAH essays editing services are here to help you!



9 recommender

In every tab for the colleges that you are applying to, there is a subsection called “Recommendations and FERPA”. This is where you invite your preferred teachers to be your counsellor and recommenders. A counsellor cannot be a recommender and vice versa. You can invite as many recommenders as you want. Ultimately, you will be the one deciding whose references to put in. Likewise, you can have non-academic referees e.g. sports coach, music tutor (more relevant for those applying for sports/music scholarships). Waiving your FERPA rights means that you agree legally not to have access to your references or transcripts and have your counsellor send them on your behalf. Please note that once your recommender is invited into your application for a particular university, his/her reference can also be used for other universities.

Written by: The CollegeLAH Team

Maxis Scholarship


Image Source

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

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

2. What happened during your scholarship assessment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.How did you prepare for the scholarship application?

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

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

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

Yayasan UEM Overseas Scholarship

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

Online application – 2000 applicants

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

First stage – 200 candidates

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

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

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

Here is a list of questions I was asked:

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

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

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

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

Second Stage – 50 candidates

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

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

Third stage – 50 candidates

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

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


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

Another Great Eastern Scholarship Application

95 Andrew Great Eastern Scholarship

Andrew and his scholarship mates at the Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship Award ceremony

For the uninformed, the Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship is one of the leading education sponsorship awards in the local insurance industry scene. The scholarship program is opened for both overseas & local undergraduate programs, offering a specified quantum that covers tuition fees & living costs. For overseas applicants, only candidates applying for Actuarial Science and Accounting & Finance are considered. Meanwhile for local applicants however, the field of studies that may be considered for sponsorship encompasses a larger scope. Since its inception in 1998, the award has successfully benefited 117 students, with a cumulative human capital investment of RM7.9 million. Further technical information can be found on their website.

This year, close to half a thousand students sent in their applications to be part of this prestigious program and the numbers are just going to increase every year. With competition being this tight, how are you able to differentiate yourself? Well, let’s find out.

First Stage – Application Submission

The application form is pretty straightforward like applying for any other sponsors. A short essay to explain why you should be awarded this scholarship is not too difficult to manage.  It is very tempting to write a self-glorifying piece or fabricate false promises at this stage. My advice; do not.  Write truthfully. Slot a few assertions of your leadership qualities. A dash of compassionate points but most importantly keep it short. If English is not your first language, get a friend or lecturer to proof read your essay.

Second Stage – Preliminary Essay Writing

With your application in place, it is time to give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve gone through one of the toughest stages in the entire process; taking the first step. Now, in the spirit of professionalism, please do not pester the assessment panel every single day asking if you’ve made it through. The screening panel also has other work priorities beside you, understand that.

About after 2-3 weeks past the closing date for application submission, you should regularly check your email. If you are successful, you will receive an email from the company on your next preliminary assessment. At the time of my application, the issue that was a major focus of the country was free tertiary education. For this assessment I was required to write an essay on this topic. I was asked to elaborate my stand on the issue & critically justify my reasoning. It was to be submitted in 2 days’ time & 500 words in length.

This task is hardly to be classified as difficult unless you do not read a whole lot. The time allotted is also extremely generous for you to do enough research to write a convincing article. The only way I can see anyone failing at this stage is that they had unfortunately forgotten to check their email.

Third Stage – Panel Interview

Continuously check your email at least once a day and more so after 2 weeks have passed. Beyond this point, it is more or less safe to assume you unfortunately did not meet their expectations. This next stage in my opinion is one of the most important & therefore, I will give a very comprehensive recollection of my experience. Now it’s time for a company visit!

Upon arrival & registration, you will be invited to have breakfast, mingle with your other candidates & the Human Capital (HR) team conducting the assessment. Make full use of this opportunity to expand your network & be proactive in interacting with the staff. Although it was never clarified, but judging from my experience, scholarship assessments also focus on the silent observations of the staff strategically placed there.

You will be invited to have a brief introduction to Great Eastern as a company and the journey of evolution into the entity it is today. Do take notes actively as if you are sitting for an orientation for your first day in college. After, there will be some icebreakers. At this point, my advice is to enjoy yourself & forget that you are in an assessment.

After a short tea break, you’ll be asked individually to each come up with an essay of about 500 words. You will be given 1 hour to write, and again, it is usually a relevant topic of current issues. After, there will be lunch & more networking opportunities with some invited alumni serving their bonds in the company.

After that, you will be invited to be the main agenda; the panel interview. There will be 2 sessions of interviews with 2 panel members each, depending on who is available that particular day. You will be attending each interview session in pairs as well. Let me reinforce the fact that at this point of time, you’ll find pretty much everyone in Great Eastern is super friendly & they really are. So, relax or it could hurt your chances. Standard questions will be asked about your family background mainly as to gauge what kind of socio-economic situation your family is in. You will also be asked to reaffirm some of your CV assertions like ECA participation, letter of recommendation & forecast/actual results. Enlighten them on your aspirations & career plan. Think about how you can contribute in return and link that to your personal brand. Most importantly, show the panel you understand the commitment you are signing up for as a scholar & that you have a sound understanding of the company & industry you are about to be tied down with. The thing about Great Eastern’s interview assessment was, I felt that there was not exactly one area of focus that got me through & that they were very much more interested in you as a person. One of the more memorable questions posed to me was to market why my partner deserved the scholarship more than I do. I believe why both me and my partner advanced through this section was because we personally knew each other beforehand & therefore, we were better able to promote each other without the needs to sabotage each other, which could have been disastrous.

Before adjourning, you will also have another tea break. This is what I love about Great Eastern’s scholarship assessment. Other than the fact there is just always food around you, you will also be reimbursed for your travelling expenses! For those of you who had to catch a flight or bus to attend the assessment, you will also receive reimbursement & accommodation if necessary. All this must be prearranged beforehand, mind you.

Fourth Stage – Assessment Workshop

Alright, we’re almost there! Believe me when I say the worst is over because this next & FINAL stage of the assessment will be one really fun day. The last of you remaining will be gathered in Great Eastern for one final workshop day. The main areas of assessment will be leadership qualities.

The first main agenda for me that day was to create a mind map to explain some unique tidbits about myself. Even if you lacked artistic qualities, impress both the panel & audience with how much you know about yourself & articulate the flow of information well. A leader is a person who knows himself/herself better than anyone else.

Next assessment would be an advantage for those of you who have a background in Toastmasters. I was asked to draw a table topic from a bowl & asked to speak on my feet. As a leader, giving a speech, be it informative or opinionated, should be a knee-jerk reaction by now. Not only does the quality of your matter is important, but the structure is also imperative. The same goes to say for your mannerism or your body language. I also remember taking Q&A’s from the audience on my topic with some coming from the Human Capital team.

Next, all of us were taken to an assessment centre where you will be required to complete a digital aptitude test on our mathematical abilities & work personality survey. I recall both had a specified time limit that you needed to complete in but it was not a very tight one. Take your time, gather your thoughts and relax. Do not feel pressured if someone else finishes faster than you because at the end of the day, it is the quality of your answers that matters, not your speed of your completing.

Following up after a delicious lunch break, all of us were divided into two groups for some group assessments. The more memorable one that was important was the case study & solution pitching session. I remember our topic of the day was regarding creating a product awareness of Takaful insurance products. We were then asked to critically evaluate & debate each other’s solutions in an impromptu manner. At this point, I was enjoying myself too much to be really focused on recollecting what happened that day & I figured that this was their intention. It was simply to conduct a session of bonding amongst ourselves. We found out later that every attendee of the final phase received a scholarship offer, except one person due to the unique circumstances of his undergraduate study offer.

Parting Words

Many people (particularly my batch) did not really know or paid serious attention at the prospect of attaining a scholarship with Great Eastern. In fact, I ALMOST skipped applying for it (which I did for many other scholarship opportunities) mainly because it was not as glamorous in comparison to likes of say, Khazanah or BNM. I was also discouraged at the thought of rejection due to my less than stellar forecast results. Besides, I had just been rejected for almost every other scholarship I had applied to that year. Nevertheless, it is never an excuse to not try. Even if you did not meet some requirements or your chosen field of study is not mentioned, you risk nothing applying!  Be proactive in shaping your future, because no one else will do it for you.


This is a recollection of an event that transpired almost 3 years ago. Chances are the assessment will not be exactly the same, even more so that the scholarship coordinator & team have changed since then.

imageedit_8_7814793404Andrew Chin Chee Loong is a recipient of the Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship & is currently reading Accounting & Finance in HELP University, under the University of London External Programme. He’s also part of the university’s student representative council & has recently joined a student organization known as the International Council of Malaysian Scholars & Associates (ICMS). When he’s able to find the time to settle down with a good book, he loves reading fiction, preferably dystopian & sci-fi.