First things first, if you’re reading this, congratulations for your SPM results and also for getting shortlisted! Many of you might have come across the acronym of ‘PNB’, well it actually stands for Permodalan Nasional Berhad. For those who don’t know, PNB is one of the largest fund management companies in Malaysia. If y'all ever heard of ASNB, well that’s under PNB. PNB offers multiple types of scholarships that you can find/look through on the official website. As for me, I will be sharing with you my experience in applying for the PNB Global Scholarship Award 2020. Since it was during the COVID-19 pandemic, my experience would probably differ a bit from the seniors or you!
Before we walk down my so-called ‘memory lane’, I’m going to briefly tell you what the scholarship actually is. PNB Global Scholarship Award is a programme for students with outstanding achievements to pursue their tertiary education in top universities abroad (the UK and US). PNB scholars will be doing their preparatory studies (A-Levels) at the Kolej Yayasan UEM (KYUEM) in Lembah Beringin, Perak for two years and pursue their degree in the universities they opt to (within PNB’s choices only) abroad.
Also, there is a bond for the PNB scholars on their return. Every one year of sponsorship in Malaysia equals one year of bond, while every one year of sponsorship abroad will give you two years. Your bond may differ with your friends as it depends on how long your course will take.
Alright, moving on to the application! PNB’s application is quite unique and requires a lot of patience, especially for those who are used to applying scholarships through the sponsors’ portal :) For PNB, you will have to download the application form beforehand and fill it in using Microsoft Excel (kinda old school hahaha but fun). Fortunately, you don’t have to write an essay for PNB hehe but you will have to provide the documents they’ve asked for and email everything to firstname.lastname@example.org . As simple as that ;)
NOTE: do check your emails regularly like EVERY SINGLE DAY & EVERY SECOND because you will have to reply to their emails for confirmations!
Critical Reasoning Test Battery (CRTB) assessment
If you’ve met the requirements for the scholarship a.k.a shortlisted, you will receive an email by PNB to sit for a CTRB assessment (online for me). The assessment wasn't as hard as I expected. I found Yayasan Khazanah’s assessment wayy harder :’) It took around 1 hour and a half - 20 to 30 minutes for each section. The assessment consists of three aptitude tests.
- Verbal Reasoning - you will need to answer questions based on the passage given. It was quite tough, you have to really really understand it. It’s an MCQ kind of test.
- Numerical Reasoning - need to understand questions and calculate fast. Some questions are quite tricky so be careful! (use calculator) There are a lot of numerical datas! But don't worry, it's just a simple maths calculations (no add maths for this one)
- Diagrammatic (Non-verbal Reasoning) - Measures reasoning with diagrams and requires the recognition of logical rules governing sequences. Analyse the pattern carefully! It’s better if you take any free online practice tests beforehand because eventually, you’ll understand how it goes.
Honestly, it’s not that hard yet not so easy. I suggest you to do practices online in advance hehe! Goodluck!
STAGE 2 - Interview Session
After 2 weeks, I received another email invitation for the Online Interview session via Microsoft Teams. My interview was at 10 in the morning so I woke up very early that day to prepare! I also had around 3 days to prepare for the interview. I did some research about PNB and current issues! It’s really important to share your opinions in the interview even though sometimes you think it’s nonsense, dont worry and just be confident! Do prepare a self-introduction and do research about your course and know why you chose it. The interview was only for 30 minutes. It was sort of a group interview since there will be around 3-4 candidates with you but no worries because the interviewers will assess you individually.
During the interview, put a smile on your face and relax! Try your best to answer the questions asked without stuttering too much. The interviewers were very nice to me so I bet you guys don’t really have to worry much if the interviewers are fierce or so because they’re not!! It was more of a casual conversation rather than a formal interview. However, there was one critical thinking question for each candidate. I was asked regarding the government’s role in handling the Rohingya people. It was quite a tough one because I wasn't prepared for that :( It was quite disappointing but I did my best for it. That was all for me! Other questions were common interview questions such as how do you see yourself in five years, tell us about yourself and others.
STAGE 3 - Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) session
2 weeks later, I received another email invitation to the Final Stage which consists of the OPQ and group presentation. I’ll focus on the OPQ first! For this assessment, you don’t really have to prepare much since it’s just a personality test! It comprises of 3 main personality traits i.e. Relationship with People, Thinking Style & Feelings and Emotions. The report for this test will evaluate a candidate’s competencies, personality preferences and workplace behaviours. There were a lot of repetitive questions and you can’t go back to the previous questions to check your answers so be consistent and be careful! Just be yourself for this one :)
STAGE 4 - Group Presentation
For the group presentation, we actually had to debate on a given topic. We were given around 5 days to prepare so it wasn’t a rush for us. The group consists of 5 members and we had to contact each other individually through email first and then create a Whatsapp group to discuss! Since it was a debate, four of the members had to debate and one has to be the moderator. There were specific instructions for the debate which i will include below:
- Presentation content must be structured (1. Introduction, 2. Body, 3. Conclusion) and supported with graphics, facts and figures.
- Before the debate session, the group leader will introduce himself/ herself, briefly discuss the topic, introduce his or her members, as well as moderate the session until the end, and make the concluding remarks.
- The time allocated for debating is thirty (30) minutes with an approximate of 3 slides per candidate, while another fifteen (15) minutes is given for questions and answers (Q & A) session.
Our topic for the debate was “Food security in Malaysia, is Malaysia self-sustainable?”. It was quite hard as we had to do a lot of research before the presentation. Luckily, my teammates were very supportive and we helped each other a lot throughout the process! Shoutout to Aina, Amirul, Muadz and Asif! Overall, the presentation was smooth because we had a lot of time to prepare. The Q&A session was a bit tricky but it was okay since the questions asked are only based on the topic presented.
Lastly, the application for PNB Global Scholarship Award is a quite long process, just like other scholarships too but it is a great experience because you’ll gain a lot of things from it (friends, confident and knowledge)
I feel very honoured to be a part of the PNB family. They are very welcoming :) For those who intend to apply, I wish you all the best!