How do I make the best preparation for scholarship assessments and interviews?

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Hi there!

If you are reading this article, it means one of three possibilities:

  1. You have been shortlisted for the next stage of scholarship application – assessment & interview stage
  2. You are genuinely curious what happens after you applied for scholarship
  3. You are reading for further information

Most scholarships have limited placement available for the year. To help the sponsors to decide, they have requirements and assessments to test you. With an average of about 400, 000 SPM students every year, how do you stand out from the crowd?

There are commonly 3 different types of scholar selection formats. Sponsors may choose to use one or more types of formats shared below.


  1. Written

You may be asked to sit for a short test to assess your problem solving skills. These tests may be further specialized into testing English, Mathematics and/or Science field. The written assessments can be tested in the form of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), short answer, or essay style. So, don’t forget about your SPM knowledge just yet!

  1. Presentation

It is increasingly common for sponsors to test you on your presentation skills. This will give an insight to them on your critical thinking and research skills which will be key in your university journey.

Background of topic


This is your time to shine and impress the interviewers. Keep your answers short and precise. Give examples for the interviewers to understand you better and faster. Use the recommended interview strategy – STAR.

Now that you know of the STAR technique, what are the different formats of interview sessions?

STAR Interview

  1. Phone

This is a popular form of selecting the first round of potential scholars. Common questions include introduce yourself, why do you choose the scholarship, and what do you know about the scholarship provider?

  1. Individual

Put on your best formal attire and portray a good positive impression. They say that first impression counts and it is true! You will want to leave the interviewer feeling good and keen to shortlist you for the scholarship. Manage your anxiety by imagining you are having a conversation, in a more formal setting.

  1. Group

In this format, you will be placed with a group of other candidates. Take this chance to shine among them. Answer the questions honestly and agree or disagree with the statements made by others. Tell the interviewer(s) of your opinion with useful research and statistics. Hence, do read up about the sponsors and their main business area.

  1. Panel

This could be the most intimidating interview format among all 4. You will be facing multiple people seated in a row that consists of executives of all levels (manager, director, and/or head of department). Make a good impression by practicing your answers with research and statistics. This stage tests primarily on your critical thinking and ability to think quickly and calmly.

iScholar_Types of assessment and interview


There are other less conventional assessments that scholarship providers use. Nevertheless, you never know what they will test you so it is always best to be overprepared for an important event.

  1. Essay

Writing an essay on a given or chosen topic is another way for sponsors to get an idea on your critical thinking and English proficiency skills. They want to see if you understand how to present yourself and your answer. As many would be writing an essay themselves, write your idea about a topic or an area that you are passionate about. What inspired you to study this field in university? What can you do with the degree you are going to study? Be original and make your essay a unique and unforgettable writing (in a good way!).

  1. Opinion-based questions

This is a tricky section to navigate – sponsors may ask you for your opinion on case studies or moral questions that puts you in a dilemma. What should you answer? The best advice is to answer the question with what you think is best in your opinion but explain why you decide to make that decision. Acknowledge the pros and cons of your answers. For example, if you choose to sacrifice one person to save a country, why or why not? The purpose of this question is to test your decision making skills, confidence, and critical thinking; so, don’t worry about getting the right or wrong answer because there is none.

We hope that this list helps you to make better preparations for your scholarship assessment. Below is the summary of this article’s tips and advice.

Assessment1. Written2. Presentation

If you have any questions about this article or on scholarships, drop us an email or through our social media channels – Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Keep up-to-date on these channels about the latest scholarships and easy-to-read articles. Stay tune for next week’s article!


Written by Melanie Mok

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