Stage 1: The Application
This stage is fairly straightforward. The application process is done entirely online. You’ll have to fill in basic details such as your personal details, details of your family members and also the course that you are interested in. Once you’ve submitted your application, you can access and change it at any time before the deadline. After the deadline, you can only access your application to see it’s acceptance status. Once it’s accepted, you’ll receive an email as well as a text message informing you that you qualify for the second stage.
Stage 2: The Assessment
Alhamdulillah, you’ve passed the application stage. The assessment stage is pretty self-explanatory. You will be given an online test that you have to complete within a certain time. The assessment that I was tested on was the Logiks test from Cubiks. The assessment consists of 3 sections - verbal, numerical and abstract. A very important tip is this test is NOT the same as any test you’ve taken for SPM. If you did well in SPM, that is in no way a guarantee that you’ll do well on this test too; it only increases your chances of doing slightly better. The best way to gauge yourself is to practice the tests itself.
In the Cubiks website, there are some example questions that you can look at to get a feel for it, but those questions aren’t enough. The main problem that I faced during the practice tests was the strict time restraints. It really feels like there wasn’t enough time to answer all of the questions, especially if you’ve never tried the test before. There should be free practice tests available online that you can use to test how ready you are.
During the actual test, it's best to stay calm before and during the test. Panicking about how hard the questions will be or if there were questions that you didn’t know the answer would only make things worse. Try your best to stay level headed until you finish the test. It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re taking too long on a question, just skip it. It’s better to have one unanswered question than having one hard question answered, but multiple others unattempted.
All the questions are only worth one mark anyways, so there’s no reason to pop the veins in your head trying to answer one hard question. Also, it helps to have a giant timer placed somewhere that’s super obvious to see. Both during practices and the real thing. It’s much easier to know more or less if you have extra time or if you’re running behind so you can make the necessary adjustments. Once you’re done with the assessment, breathe easy, because that’s one difficult task already finished.
The Waiting Stage
This comes off from personal experience, but CHECK YOUR EMAILS CONSTANTLY! I almost missed the email that asks for confirmation whether or not I agree to be interviewed. It was a month of silence from YTM that made me think I didn’t pass to the interview stage. I was lucky a ray of hope rained down from the skies and inspired me to check my emails on the very last hour before the confirmation deadline. So always check your emails.
Stage 3: The Interview
Thank the heavens that you no longer have the anxiety of waiting for a reply from YTM. Now the anxiety of the interview comes knocking at your doorstep. After confirming your availability, you’ll receive another interview congratulating you for reaching the final stage, although there are some prerequisites before the stage even starts. In that email, you’ll be told that you have three days to do three things: Submit the required documents, prepare a resume video and write a personal statement. Only after these tasks, would you finally be able to attend the interview, which is the last thing you have to do for the selection process.
This part is pretty easy. The documents are all the common ones that you will need to provide for every scholarship. It would be a good idea for you to have prepared these documents beforehand, even if you don’t reach this stage, since most of it will be used for other scholarships also. This is especially true for your co-curricular certs, so start digging for them early. Plus, the less time you have to think about documents, the more time you have to prepare the video resume and personal statement, and three days is not a lot of time to do both.
For this task, you’ll be given around two minutes to talk about a certain topic about yourself that will be given to you. My tip is to prepare just a draft of the points that you’ll be talking about instead of writing the whole script. There are a few reasons for this. One, you’ll be a lot flexible about what you say when you don’t have what you want to specifically say. I had to stop and redo a lot of times, mostly because I kept trying to say the same thing everytime, so when I forgot about what specific word I used, I ended up pausing longer than if I just used another word on the spot.
So try not to restrict how you’re gonna say something. Two, if you’re not used to it, it becomes very obvious that you’re trying to deliver a prepared speech, especially when it comes to the interview later. If you speak perfectly during the video, but stumble around your words a lot during the interview, then it won’t bode well for you. Try to keep it consistent to how you actually speak, it makes the assessors feel like they can trust you more.
This is the part where you should truly write everything properly, unlike for the video resume. There’s a word limit of I think 200 or 250 words, and you’ll be given a topic to write about, but it would most probably be something about you as a person. A general tip for this section is: use this chance to tell your story. Tell them you’re upbringing, tell them what makes you, you.
Of course, you still need to keep it within the context of the given topic, but you can still use it as a platform to tell you what drives you and what motivates you to do what you’re doing now. Don’t just make up a story for the sake of it though, because surely during the interview, they’ll want to know more since 250 words is not enough to explain everything. So make sure you write about something that resonates within you, so you can confidently talk about it during your interview.
So you’ve submitted your documents, created your resume video and written the best personal statement you’ve ever written. Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back because doing all that was not easy, especially because of the timeframe. Now comes the time for that dreaded interview. Everything you’ve worked for comes down to this. You’ll receive the invite for the interview a few days after the deadline for the documents, video and personal statement.
Judging on the current situation, it’s most likely that your interview will be conducted online too, but only time will tell. The interview is done individually. That means it will be only you alone who will be interviewed by a panel of interviewers, which was two people for mine. The interview lasted around half an hour to me, but it depends on how much the interviewers wanted to know about you.
My tip for the interview is to always answer honestly. You don’t want the interviewer to catch you lying, or everything you said won’t be credible anymore. It’s also worth noting that the interview isn’t trying to find a fault in you. During my interview, they were really nice and they never asked any hard questions. All they asked were the common interview questions, and a big portion of the questions were ones about the things I wrote in my personal statement as well as things in my resume video.
That’s why I felt the questions weren’t hard, since it was basically just me sharing with them my experiences and showing them who I really am as a person. So just be yourself in the interview. Make sure that what you say during the interview reflects what you said in the video and personal statement. Also, it could help you during the interview if you did some research on YTM’s mission and vision, then relate them to the answers that you’ll give.
Not only does it help you with making convincing replies, but it also shows that you care about the organisation aims and not only your own. Last but not least, it’s okay to admit that you don’t understand what they’re asking or even if you don’t have an answer. It’s always better to ask the interviewers to clarify the question if you have difficulties figuring out what they want.
It’s better to ask them for clarification rather than giving them replies that don't answer their question. Whatever happens in the interview, just stay calm and keep a clear head. It would help tremendously when you’re not panicking when you try to answer. Hopefully, with all that, you can ace your interview with them.
After the interview, treat yourself to a nice cup of tea because you just finished the whole application process for the scholarship! The results of the interview won’t come in the next month or so, and hopefully when it does, you’ll be getting that scholarship offer letter. To me, the whole application process was an interesting experience and it was worth it worth going through with it. Insya Allah, with all that I’ve said here, it would help you in securing your own YTM scholarship. Amin.